The rehabilitation of a small 1800s-era grocery store on Bowery Street in Iowa City will be recognized this week for the exceptional historic preservation efforts undertaken by its new owners. Preservation Iowa, a state-wide organization that supports preservation of historic structures, will award 518 Bowery a “Preservation at Its Best Award” in the commercial category during its annual summit, scheduled June 25-27 in Winterset. The organization will recognize projects in residential, public, sustainability, adaptive use, and rural preservation categories. 

City of Iowa City Senior Planner Robert Miklo submitted the award nomination on behalf of the Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission. The building, owned by Keith Barton and Steven Rosenberg of Berkeley, CA, now houses ZaZa’s Pasta Shop and Italian Market.

The Bowery Street grocery store was officially listed on an Iowa City directory around 1897 as a grocery store and meat market. For 80 years, it served as a neighborhood grocery, and was the first home for New Pioneer Co-op in the 1970s. Its history also includes use as a residential rental unit.

In 2013, the building was sold to Barton and Rosenberg, and the new owners put processes in motion to preserve the structure, while also gaining recognition of its historical significance. Throughout the rehabilitation process, steps were taken to preserve the building’s historic integrity. In 2014, 518 Bowery was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a local landmark for Iowa City.

The historic 740 sq. ft. grocery, according to the Iowa City Historic Preservation Commission, is representative of a small storefront built in 19th century Iowa, with balloon framing, a steeply pitched gable roof, false front, large display windows, and a metal roof. After a special exception by the City of Iowa City allowed the property to revert to commercial use, the building once again operates as a specialty grocery. The wooden shelves that line the store’s west wall held groceries in the 1800s and 1900s in the same way that locally made pastas, olive oil, marinara sauce, and other Italian foods are displayed today.

For more information, visit or contact City of Iowa City Historic Preservation Specialist Jessica Bristow at or 319-356-5243 or Robert Miklo at or 319-356-5240.


Date of publication

Thursday, June 25, 2015