The Upper Iowa University President’s Home is once again a place for alumni, current students, and the entire UIU community to gather and celebrate Peacock pride. Time had taken its toll on the house over the past century, but more than $160,000 in private donations and two years of construction have given the UIU treasure new life. President Bill Duffy and his wife, Sharon, officially reopened the President’s Home to the Peacock family during the 2016 Blue Pride Worldwide Homecoming celebration.
Located across from campus at 308 Washington Street, a peacock-blue door leads into the fully renovated house. Every room received a facelift — from fresh coats of paint and new furnishings to restored original hardwood floors and the addition of historical items from past UIU presidents.
“We wanted to maintain the integrity of the house, but also bring it up to date and make it functional,” said Sharon, who managed the design of the project. “Our goal was to create a mix of old and new. The paint and furniture are all basic and neutral colors, but I also made sure every room had a peacock accent to represent university pride.”
A large foyer leads into the music room, President Duffy’s office, and the dining room. In the dining room and within view of the front door is a fantastic wooden china cabinet that displays crystal and china of the wives of past UIU presidents. This bright and welcoming space has already played host to many dinner parties with UIU alumni.
“I wanted the dining room to be a place that would make our guests feel special and at home when visiting us,” Sharon said. “The dining room is one of my favorites because you can feel the history and tradition right when you walk into the house,” President Duffy said.
The main floor also features the parlor, family room, kitchen, and sunroom. The parlor highlights Peacock memorabilia and historic books, as well as a photo of the President’s Home taken in the winter of 1956 that Sharon found in the basement and framed.
The kitchen and sunroom, Sharon’s two favorite rooms, both underwent major renovations. She says she looks forward to cooking for them and guests in the new kitchen, and to be able to relax and read a book in the sunroom while enjoying the view of the grounds.
The finished basement is a place the Duffys hope students will be able to utilize to host meetings, movie nights and study groups. The Duffys also look forward to spending time in the space with their children and grandchildren when they come to visit.
The second floor serves as the Duffys’ private living area, complete with a living room, master bedroom and bathroom, two guest rooms, Sharon’s office, laundry area, kitchenette and two guest bathrooms. They moved into the house in February and lived upstairs while construction was underway on the main floor.
“Going through construction is never easy, especially with dust, busy schedules and needing certain items to be done on time in order for work to begin on the next project,” Sharon said. “I really have to commend Classic Home Remodeling out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on the quality and unbelievable work they did. They used local help and resources, and we are so grateful for their hard work.”
Both guest bedrooms have personalized themes to the Duffys. The first has a Hawaiian theme and showcases President Duffy’s shell collection. The other, which was the first UIU president’s master bedroom, has been restored to its original luster with a bed-and-breakfast theme to make guests feel like they are at home when visiting.
The Duffys repeatedly expressed how thankful they are to all the private donors who made the renovation possible.
“Seeing the project completed and all the ideas actually happen was so rewarding,” Sharon said. “I am so pleased to have maintained the integrity of the home, while giving it a much needed facelift. I can’t wait to continue sharing the house with alumni, students, and the whole UIU community. It’s the University’s home, and we feel so blessed to live here.”
To view more photos of the President’s Home renovation in its entirety, visit uiu.edu/presidentshome.