Counties with the oldest homes in Iowa

Written by:
September 12, 2021
Jason McLaren // Wikimedia Commons

Counties with the oldest homes in Iowa

There's an undeniable charm that comes with pre-World War II American architecture, characterized by high ceilings, crown molding, hardwood floors, and ornate details. In fact, 12.8% of all housing units in America were built in 1939 or before, showing the popularity of the preservation of these units. Owning a piece of history can sometimes come with a cost: Many old homes come with asbestos, lead piping, knob-and-tube wiring, and other outdated building styles that can rack up a hefty price tag to modernize. However, with more and more modernized pre-war homes on the market, generally located just outside bustling downtown metros, investing in property that has withstood the test of time is an attractive prospect.

Stacker compiled a list of the counties in Iowa with the oldest homes using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by median year the structure was built, with ties broken by the most homes before 1939.

The country’s domestic architecture is perhaps best characterized by a rugged individualism as opposed to the hybridization of disparate architectural elements. As Maya Angelou once perceptively observed, "the ache for home lives in all of us," a phrase that has meant very different things to different people.

Modest or palatial, there is no shortage of noteworthy homes in the U.S. Log cabins constructed by industrious pioneers have dotted the landscape alongside traditional Native American dwellings ever since immigrant Swedes introduced them to the New World in 1638. The unprecedented personal fortunes amassed by the so-called "Robber Barons" at the close of the 19th century gave way to the construction of a staggering number of Gilded Age estates.

The ravages of time spared neither the sumptuous nor the humble. Stately mansions, often prohibitively costly to maintain in the modern era, were frequently neglected; simple structures were forgotten, discarded by their owners, and damaged by natural elements. However, the tireless efforts of architectural preservationists and local historical societies have saved many of these homes from demolition, leading to their inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and thereby safeguarding them for future generations.

Keep reading to learn more about which counties in Iowa have the oldest homes.

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Ann Sullivan-Larson // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Hamilton County

- Median year homes built: 1956
--- #180 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 35.9%
--- #184 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 7,195
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Lolwhynot3498 // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Grundy County

- Median year homes built: 1956
--- #175 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 36.9%
--- #159 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 5,584
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Robert Thall // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Lee County

- Median year homes built: 1956
--- #171 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 39.5%
--- #98 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 16,224
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Coasterlover1994 // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Osceola County

- Median year homes built: 1955
--- #154 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 35.1%
--- #207 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 2,956
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Ian Poellet // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Des Moines County

- Median year homes built: 1955
--- #142 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 38.7%
--- #117 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 18,603
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Jim Roberts // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Shelby County

- Median year homes built: 1955
--- #140 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 39.4%
--- #101 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 5,580
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Jim Roberts // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Page County

- Median year homes built: 1954
--- #128 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 37.2%
--- #150 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 7,190
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Ann Sullivan-Larson // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Wright County

- Median year homes built: 1954
--- #121 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 39.2%
--- #105 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 6,514
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Jared Winkler // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Taylor County

- Median year homes built: 1954
--- #120 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 39.3%
--- #103 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 3,105
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Phinn // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Emmet County

- Median year homes built: 1953
--- #111 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 34.5%
--- #221 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 4,809
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en:User:Cburnett // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Wapello County

- Median year homes built: 1953
--- #107 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 36.8%
--- #161 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 16,070
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Jon Roanhaus // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Franklin County

- Median year homes built: 1953
--- #101 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 38.6%
--- #120 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 4,856
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Ann Sullivan-Larson // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Hardin County

- Median year homes built: 1953
--- #98 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 39.8%
--- #91 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 8,176
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Jason McLaren // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Greene County

- Median year homes built: 1953
--- #97 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 39.8%
--- #89 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 4,544
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Scott Romine // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Harrison County

- Median year homes built: 1953
--- #93 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 42.1%
--- #55 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 6,821
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Woodard // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Fayette County

- Median year homes built: 1952
--- #75 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 41.7%
--- #63 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 9,597
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Bill Whittaker // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Tama County

- Median year homes built: 1952
--- #74 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 42.0%
--- #58 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 7,794
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Skye Marthaler // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Cherokee County

- Median year homes built: 1951
--- #65 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 40.1%
--- #88 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 5,770
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User:Magicpiano // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Sac County

- Median year homes built: 1951
--- #64 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 40.4%
--- #82 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 5,395
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Smallbones // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Cass County

- Median year homes built: 1951
--- #60 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 41.8%
--- #59 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 6,577
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Scott Romine // Wikimedia Commons

#10. Ida County

- Median year homes built: 1951
--- #58 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 42.5%
--- #49 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 3,446
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Pettingills // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Pocahontas County

- Median year homes built: 1950
--- #53 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 37.9%
--- #139 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 3,727
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Nst101 // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Audubon County

- Median year homes built: 1950
--- #48 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 40.9%
--- #73 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 3,001
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Billwhittaker // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Butler County

- Median year homes built: 1950
--- #46 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 41.7%
--- #61 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 6,784
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Jatakuck // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Howard County

- Median year homes built: 1950
--- #45 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 42.4%
--- #51 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 4,364
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Jonathunder // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Worth County

- Median year homes built: 1949
--- #37 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 42.1%
--- #57 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 3,524
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Judd Furlong // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Montgomery County

- Median year homes built: 1949
--- #36 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 43.1%
--- #38 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 5,233
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JERRYE AND ROY KLOTZ MD // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Monona County

- Median year homes built: 1947
--- #25 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 46.0%
--- #19 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 4,722
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Jason McLaren // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Adams County

- Median year homes built: 1944
--- #16 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 46.3%
--- #16 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 2,006
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en:User:Cburnett // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Keokuk County

- Median year homes built: 1944
--- #14 oldest among all counties nationwide
- Homes built 1939 or earlier: 47.8%
--- #12 most among all counties nationwide
- Number of homes: 4,883

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