Lansing’s Coffee on the River honored by Preservation Iowa for transformation of historic grain elevator into unique coffee shop

Award-winning partnership ... Coffee on the River co-owners Diana Wilson-Thompson and Wendi Eiden (left to right) were recently notified of the “Best Small Commercial Project” Award they received from Preservation Iowa. The two transformed the original Kerndt grain elevator and warehouse building into their new coffee shop that opened this past year in Lansing. Submitted photo.

Transformation garners award ... The original Kerndt grain elevator and warehouse building located along the riverfront in Lansing has been transformed this past year into Coffee on the River, a coffee shop co-owned by Diana Wilson-Thompson and Wendi Eiden. The success of that transformation and its focus on maintaining much of the original equipment and structure of the building (evident in the before and after photos above and below, respectively) was recognized by the Preservation Iowa organization with a “Best Small Commercial Project” Award distributed during the June 4 Preserve Iowa Summit held digitally this year. Submitted photos.

Coffee on the River, located along the Mississippi River in Lansing, has been honored with the “Best Small Commercial Project” award from Preservation Iowa. Coffee on the River was one of 14 projects recognized during the annual “Preservation at Its Best” awards ceremony held June 4. The ceremony, held during the Preserve Iowa Summit, was originally set to take place in Dubuque, but due to COVID-19 it was instead hosted digitally.

Bruce Perry, President of Preserve Iowa, verbally presented the award to Coffee on the River owners Diana Wilson-Thompson and Wendi Eiden. Perry stated that Coffee on the River was a remarkable project, using a modest business loan and 1,500 hours of their own time to transform an 1868 grain elevator into the only coffee shop in Lansing. Perry further highlighted their interior design that reflects both the period of construction and contemporary standards, utilizing reclaimed furniture and scrap lumber when possible.

The building currently housing Coffee on the River was built in 1868 by three Kerndt brothers as a grain elevator and warehouse. Today the elevator building still contains much of the machinery and equipment once used to move and bag grain. The building, under the title “G. Kerndt & Bros Elevator and Warehouses #11, 12, 13”, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. It is also contained within the Lansing Main Street Historic District, which was established on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. It remains one of the oldest commercial buildings in Lansing.

Coffee on the River offers customers a relaxed environment to enjoy all their culinary offerings; more than coffee, one can find breakfast and lunch options, fresh-made desserts, and a unique selection of alcohol from around the world. Seating options inside and outside, along with free wireless internet, encourage the community to view Coffee on the River as an ideal gathering place. The business is an example of renovation and transformation on a shoestring budget and is considered to be a positive and welcome addition that helps showcase Lansing’s history as well as its future.

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