The Lee County Bank building and Cattermole Memorial Library are important buildings of the Fort Madison Downtown Commercial Historic District. Their rehabilitation and renovation have inspired similar investment in the area. The living units in both buildings are fully occupied and popular with young and old alike.
Built in 1893, the Lee County Bank Building remains the tallest building in downtown Fort Madison. Having housed the post office and numerous professional offices and businesses, the building has always been at the heart of the commercial activity. Over the years, the building ended up vacant and in disrepair. The renovation of the building included new energy efficient windows on the upper floors, matching the historic character of the original windows. Some elements were retained, such as the original storefront and decorative stained-glass transom windows, much of the interior woodwork, and wood stairs.
The two upper floors of the three-story building were converted into 14 living units, with the existing corridor and wainscot intact on the second and third floors to preserve the historic character in the public areas. The original doors and glass transoms remain along the corridor and many are reused as apartment entry doors. An elevator was also added to make the entire building accessible for all. The lower floor was also left mostly unchanged, complete with the original bank vaults and tile floor.
The Cattermole Library was built in 1894 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This building also ended up vacant and in need of repair and attention to make it an important part of the downtown once again.
The grand stairway to the left of the entry and three wood-trimmed arches were retained and restored. The upper floor was converted into four living units. The lower floor was converted into office space, using the original library circulation desk as the reception desk.