Mention Black’s and people throughout Northeast Iowa have a mental image of the building along with fond memories. As a department store, Black’s had enjoyed nearly a century of success in downtown Waterloo. As an office building, Black’s continues to be an anchor at the city’s center; a place for professionals to work and now live, entrepreneurs to develop businesses and where some of the city’s most important services are offered.
Black’s Department store was recognized as one of the finest department stores in the Midwest. It still has memories for thousands of people in Northeast Iowa and even though it has been closed for over 25 years. Past employees formed a group called the Easy Club that still meets monthly. Whenever there is an open house, 100’s of people attend. Donna Nelson worked in the Tea Room in 1950 while in high school as a waitress on the 8th floor.
The Black’s Building lies alongside the entire block of Sycamore, between E. 4th and E. Park Streets and is actually three different buildings, constructed at three different times and joined together perfectly so that you cannot distinguish when you are going from one building to the next.
The Building’s Architecture
The Building’s architecture is renaissance with Gothic emphasis, standing 132 ft. tall plus a 50 ft. flag pole on the roof and sets on a 1.3 acre site. The Black’s Building in downtown Waterloo has been described as the most historic and iconic building in Black Hawk County. It was built in 1913 and actually set the standard for design of the neighborhood.
Just completed is a $4 million dollar renovation which included adding a restaurant and apartments. New memories are being created daily for the people who work there and for generations to come with weddings, celebrations, events, etc.