Living Memory History: The Levee Inn

At the foot of Main Street and the Mississippi River in Davenport is a little boarded-up building that stands next to the old ferry landing. This building has been known by many names since it was built 93 years ago. The Municipal Inn, the Levee Confectionary, the Levee Inn, and Archie’s to name a few.

If you were part of its heyday, this building might bring back memories of sweet treats on warm summer nights or quick lunches along the river during a busy work week. Those who missed those moments, they might know the building as the local flood marker. Standing on the edge of the Mississippi River, it has seen its fair share of floods and a previous owner recorded these historic flood crests on its sides up to 1993.

The land the building sits on belongs to the City of Davenport and the Davenport Levee Improvement Commission. In 1927, Raymond (or Ray) D. Ackley was given a 10-year lease on the property and allowed to build a snack shop. On January 12, 1928, The Daily Times ran a notice that Ray D. Ackley had secured a building permit for a new refreshment stand with an estimated cost of $2,500.

The Daily Times, January 12, 1928. Pg. 5

Ackley hired local architects Claussen, Kruse & Klein to design the small Art Moderne structure that stands today. He named it the Municipal Inn.

Blueprint of the Municipal Inn dated October 28, 1927. City Map Collection, Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Department.

The building featured orange and blue tiles, an urn on each corner of the roof, and a large sign proclaiming Municipal Inn running across the top and held in place by flag poles on each end of the sign.

Enlarged section of Municipal Inn blueprint featuring the banner. Dated October 28, 1927. City Map Collection, Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Department.

We find the business operating by the summer of 1928. On June 8, 1928, there was a small advertisement under Business Opportunities in The Daily Times. Raymond Ackley was selling his popcorn stand at the corner of 3rd and Main Streets in Davenport. To inquire about purchasing, please ask at the Municipal Inn.

The Daily Times, June 8, 1928. Pg. 36

Ackley had a booming business originally. Located at the foot of the ferry boat landing and near the Natatorium pool and LeClaire Park, he sold soda pops, sandwiches, gum, candy, peanuts, and cigars. Downtown Davenport at the time was bustling with residents who lived nearby in apartments, those coming to visit for entertainment, and workers from the small businesses that filled the nearby streets.

Prosperous times took a turn quickly though. By 1933, the Great Depression was in full force. Raymond Ackley wrote to the Levee Commission warning them that he was struggling to make the monthly payments on his lease. Customers could no longer afford candy and soda pop and he was overwhelmed by his ailing wife’s medical bills.

The Daily Times, May 12, 1933. Pg. 28

On May 12, 1933, Raymond Ackley lost the lease to the Municipal Inn when all his assets were placed up for sale by the Sheriff of Scott County, Iowa. Former Davenport Alderman John M. Strelow purchased the property at the Sheriff’s Sale and sold the building to the City of Davenport for $1.00.

The Daily Times, June 21, 1933. Pg. 10

The Levee Commission rented the property off and on in the 1930s and early 1940s with no long-term leaseholders – the Great Depression and rationing during the war years making the concession stand business hard to survive on.

It wasn’t until the post-World War II era that the Municipal Inn, now called the Levee Concession Stand, boomed once again with business. Run by Roy C. and Ruth Young from 1948 – 1964. Then by Lee Roy and Arlene Hennings as the Levee Confectionary from 1965 – 1975.

Copy of lease signed by Lee Roy and Arlene Hennings to operate the concession stand. Collection 1998-18 Davenport Levee Improvement Commission Records, Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.

Charlotte Ebbing ran the stand for one year in 1975. Modern upgrades were needed and the building was closed until Paul Martinez took over the lease in 1980. He ran the stand until 1984. Jeff Weindruch took over the stand in 1985 and renamed it Archie’s, after his father.

Quad-City Times, June 27, 1985. Pg. 57. Featuring Leslie Weaver, Mitch Newman, and Brian Newman.

Archie’s closed in September 1990, when the lease went to the Connelly Group with the opening of the President Riverboat Casino in 1991. It was renamed the Iowa Pork Stop. In 1994 and 1995, Shonnie Holmes operated the stand as the Levee Inn.

Quad-City Times, September 3, 1994. Pg. 26

In, 1999 the President Casino briefly operated the building again before closing the stand and the boat in March 2001.

In 2002, there was talk briefly about moving the structure to higher ground away from the river and the floods. The building has not operated since then.

The Municipal/Levee Inn. Image taken May 19, 2022. Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.

The last recorded flood on the building is the flood of 1993 which crested at an all-time record of 22.63 feet. Since then, floods in 2001, 2008, 2011, 2014, and three in 2019 have all moved into the top ten record floods at Lock and Dam 15 in Rock Island, with the May 2, 2019 flood beating the record of the July 9, 1993 flood by .07 inches.

The Municipal/Levee Inn. Image taken May 3, 2019, from the Davenport Skybridge. Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.
The Municipal/Levee Inn on the left side. Davenport Skybridge in right background. Image taken May 19, 2022. Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center.

Standing along the shoreline next to the building today, one can imagine a couple sharing a bag of peanuts just purchased from the concession stand as they walk along the levee catching the evening breeze. Or children excitedly dancing in line next to their parents while waiting for a sweet treat as teenagers stand nearby pooling their money to split a pack of gum or a soda pop on their way home from the Natatorium next door.

So many memories over the past 93 years lingering in and around this small structure.

(posted by Amy D.)

This entry was posted in Local History and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Living Memory History: The Levee Inn

  1. Rose says:

    I am so pleased to see that the Levee Inn still exists upon my return to Iowa. I have recently moved back after almost 40 years in CO. I am excited to show it to my granddaughter when she visits this June. It is an institution.

  2. Nancy Gooch Hultgren says:

    1959 was a recession year and it was difficult for a teenager to find a summer job. But a friend informed me that another worker was needed at the Concession Stand on the Levee. At age 16 I was hired by the managers, a couple, Ray C. and Ruth Young, at 75 cents per hour. They always paid in cash! Many of the customers were folks that hung around the adjoining park all day. There was a little radio on the shelf playing all the songs popular at the time — rock ‘n roll and pop songs of the late 1950s. I’m glad to learn this little concession stand is still an important landmark!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *