What is the oldest residence in the Quad Cities?
Across the river and just downstream on Arsenal Island, the Colonel Davenport House is visible overlooking the main channel. The two-story yellow building was built in 1833 in the federal style and is the oldest permanent residence in the Quad Cities.
Col. George Davenport was born in England and came to America in 1804 where he joined the U.S. Army. In 1816, he came west to Fort Armstrong, one of a series of new forts established along the Mississippi to defend the American West following the War of 1812.
Davenport was a contractor for the Army providing food and provisions for the infantry regiment quartered at the fort. He also operated an extensive fur-trading business becoming an agent for the American Fur Company. The original house had several wings with as many as 13 buildings for storehouses and other uses surrounding it.
Davenport was a colorful figure in local business and politics. His good friend, Antoine LeClaire, saw to it that the new town of Davenport, Iowa was named for him in 1836. Davenport continued to be an active investor in railroading, river commerce and land speculating.
On July 4, 1845 at the age of 62, Col. Davenport was murdered by marauding bandits at his home. The house was eventually abandoned, falling into disrepair over the next 40 years.
The Davenport House has undergone three major restorations. The first in 1907 was headed by Col. Davenport’s granddaughters and others. The second came in the early 1960's. Ongoing restoration and archaeological work was begun in 1986 and continues today.