Operation Save the Captain’s Table / Smouse House

The mission of the Washington Chamber of Commerce is to create a progressive business climate and to promote a high quality of life in the Washington Community. With this mission front of mind, the Washington Chamber of Commerce & Partners see a unique opportunity in the “Smouse House.” Restoring this historic building will enable our community to offer an inviting welcome to newcomers and visitors to our highly trafficked area, enable non-profit tax designations to bring grant money to our community and preserve a key historic structure reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright.

About the Project:

Here is the abbreviated and honest update on Operation Save the Captain’s Table / Smouse House.

The pandemic was not kind to the project and it has faced some pretty big financial hurdles in 2020. Here are the biggest 2:

1. The largest (hopeful) funding source was a grant with the Washington County Riverboat Foundation, which got cancelled last spring due to COVID. We were asking for $750,000, which would have been an amount large enough for the Chamber Board of Directors to move forward with purchasing the building and giving the project a green light.
2. The second largest funding source was the CDBG Downtown Revitalization Grant through a new opportunity they created for iconic buildings (typically this grant will cover 6-8 buildings in a downtown to fix their facades). We were hoping for $500,000 but after reviewing all of our historic information and photos, it was decided that The Smouse House did not meet their definition of iconic (which was frustrating since no parameters were given other than ‘we’ll know it when we see it’. )
Current Financial Status
The total project to renovate the Captain’s Table is estimated between $1.5 – $2 million. With increased costs in construction and materials we are using the $2 million estimate and might still have to proceed with renovations in phases, depending on what is found when contractors open up the foundation, attic, and side walls. The financial contibutions from the community are $100,000 committed from the Chamber and the City of Washington is committing $500,000 over the next 5 years.
Surprisingly we had some great conversations over Christmas with Washington’s Santa Claus. Dave Stoufer and Rachel Nicola were really excited about the prospect of saving the Captain’s Table and had many fond memories of getting engaged there and then they would re-propose to each other every year after that.
They recently reached out and offered to donate $100,000 to see if we can get the ball rolling again! Since then, we have received $30,000 committment from the Washington Iowa Betterment Foundation, $10,000 from Joe & Marde McConnell, $2,500 from Dick & Barb Horak, and $1,000 from Gary & Virginia McCurdy.
AS OF JUNE 3, 2021, WE HAVE RAISED $743,500!
With the committments listed above, the Chamber will be resubmitting our our grant request to the Washington County Riverboat Foundation for a compelling request of $750,000.
Now I have to ask the difficult question….would financially contributing to the renovation project be something you’d be interested in?
The community needs key stakeholders in Washington to financially commit so that we can show there is enough interest to continue the pursuit of saving the building.
This will be the Chamber’s last attempt to save the building. If we are unsuccessful in reaching our financial goals, the ongoing deterioration and neglect will most likely lead to the demolishment of this beloved building which is such a vital representation of our great history. The building is in rough shape. But, the Chamber believes that honoring our history is important for our future.
Our Financial Goal: 
Obtain financial committments in the amount of $256,500 so that we have raised $1 million by end of summer.
Here are ways you could help us Save the Captain’s Table
  • If you would be interested in financially helping us reach raising $1 million, we would be so honored!
  • If you know anyone else that might be interested and would be willing to reach out to them, I’d be happy to follow up and give them more information.
  • If you have other ideas on ways we can continue the project, we are interested in more partners.
Thank you for reading our update and considering our request!
If you have additional questions or concerns, please read the following Q&A sections. For more information, please reach out to Michelle Redlinger, Executive Director of the Washington Chamber of Commerce.
Phone: 1-319-653-3272

Do you have a story to tell?

Maybe it’s an old family dinner tradition or a late night at the Cove with friends, whatever it may be, we want to hear about it.

Current State

Renovation Proposal

Take a Virtual Tour

So, what do you think?

As a member of our community, we value your opinion.

Do we have you intrigued? Get the low-down on the history of the Smouse Family Home.