Gaetjer House (Christian & Julia [Stoltenberg] Gaetjer)

1226 21st AvenueGaetjer House


Rock Island's 100 Most Significant Unprotected Structures, 2009

Significance Statement

Foursquare with magnificent Arts and Crafts detailed porch and dormer, occupied by Rock Island's first parks superintendent.

Architectural Style


Construction Date

ca. 1908

Architect / Builder


Tour Publications


Arts & Crafts Meets Foursquare

This house is an odd blend of plain-Jane Foursquare and high-style Arts and Crafts details. The house form is typically Foursquare, with the boxy exterior, standard room arrangement and roof dormers. The prominent fascia board, clapboard walls, three over one or four over one windows, and full facade porch are also expected details. Where this house becomes uncommon, though, is in the highly stylized porch treatment. The Craftsman details are evident in the ogee arches, which are repeated on the porch canopy, porch pediment and the dormer gable. The porch also features heavily turned balustrades and a straight porch skirt, along with more curves on the sides of the porch roof. The front door is original and typical of Craftsman detailing with the simple rectangular divided lights.

Rural Records

South Rock Island Township records indicate the house was constructed in 1908, but no residency can be tracked until 1917, when house numbers were established in this area.

Gaetjer Biography

Christian Gaetjer was born in Germany in 1851, where he studied horticulture before immigrating to America. He married Julia Stoltenberg in 1883, and they had two daughters and a son. For 26 years, Chris worked as a salesman for Carse & Ohlweiler, who were soft drink bottlers. In 1902, he was appointed superintendent of city parks for Rock Island. Working without a salary, his first job was to develop Long View Park. With an annual park fund of $1,500, Gaetjer began the task of removing dead timber and taking down the fence that surrounded the park so people would not use it for a pasture for their cattle. Gaetjer's job was to implement the vision of famed landscape designer O.C. Simonds. With donations totaling $12,500, Gaetjer was able to supervise the building of two lagoons that sat on different levels and had a brook, waterfall, and series of dams connecting them. The opening ceremony of the park in 1908 was attended by 15,000 people. Under Gaetjer's supervision, further additions were made to Long View Park, including a Swiss chalet. He also went on to develop Denkmann Park and Lincoln Park before resigning his post in 1925. A year later, he died of pneumonia at the age of 74.

Cora Gaetjer, Chris and Julia's daughter, inherited the property. She lived here until 1951.


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