OwnerIsadore and Sylvia (Isenberg) Meyer
Address318 Pershing Ave Decorah, IA 52101
Architectural StyleMinimal Traditional
Tour TypeSouth Decorah Tour
Most homes classified by Virginia Savage McAlester (A Field Guide to American Houses, 2020) as “minimal traditional” are wood, or sometimes stucco. This brick version of the style is therefore somewhat unusual. Unlike many Altfillisch houses, the brickwork here is completely non-decorative. The house’s most distinctive visual feature is the rather broad central chimney, which led to a living room fireplace. Decorah historian Elizabeth Lorentzen, who knew the Meyers well, says that the home’s restrained styling inside and out perfectly matched the Meyers’ conservative, frugal lifestyle.
The property has a detached garage set far back on the lot, constructed in a style similar to the house and of a comparable–although slightly lighter–brick. The Winneshiek County Assessor’s site gives a build date of 1955. Altfillisch’s Complete Projects List does not include a garage for Meyer in the 1950s, but Altfillisch clearly did some small projects for friends without including them on the List.
Isadore Meyer, born in Decorah in 1915, was the son of Lithuanian Jews who had emigrated to the U.S. and ended up in Decorah. Isadore’s father and uncle had a junkyard just north of the current Vesterheim Museum; one of Isadore’s brothers was a junk dealer in Prairie du Chien, and another taught at Morton Community College outside of Chicago (Lorentzen email). Isadore graduated from Decorah High School, the University of Iowa (B.A., 1939), and the University of Iowa Law School (J.D., 1940). He served as an officer in the U.S. Army during World War II in Iran, and returned to Decorah to practice law after the war. He was active in many community organizations and served as Winneshiek County, Decorah, and Calmar attorneys. He was known as a sociable, gentle man, and since he walked to work and home for lunch, he was a visible Decorah resident. He died in Los Angeles in 1998 (DPO, July 21, 1998).
Sylvia (Isenberg) Meyer, was born in 1918 in Davenport, Iowa, and graduated from the University of Iowa with a major in commerce. At the time of the Meyers’ marriage in 1945, she was employed in the U.S. Engineer’s office in Rock Island, Illinois. The Meyers were married when Isadore was on military leave. They were “united in marriage March 18 in a ceremony performed before the fireplace in the Isenberg home. Rabbi S. B. Bozman officiated in the presence of the immediate families” (DPO, April 4, 1945). While in Decorah, the Meyers worshipped at a Synagogue in Rochester, Minnesota. The Meyers had two sons.