Iowa City’s Rose Hill – Irish’s Woods.

In an earlier post, we introduced you to Frederick Macy (F. M.) Irish and his wife, Elizabeth. The Irish’s were one of Iowa City’s earliest, and certainly one of the most influential families in our city’s history. Click here to read their story.

Soon after F.M. Irish arrived here in 1838/1839, he purchased land north and east of the city (see pic above). Here, Irish built his first log cabin in 1839, and then in 1840/1841 enlarged the home, adding 30 additional acres (yellow) to the property. In 1849, F.M. built the house called Rose Hill – also known as the Irish-Goetz House. Many believe the home was part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War era, since the Irish family sided with the many anti-slavery abolitionists living in Iowa City at the time.

J. H. Millar’s 1854 map of Iowa City (below) shows Captain F.M. Irish’s Rose Hill, named for all the wild roses on the original 30 acres.

When Irish built Rose Hill, he chose the Greek Revival style – which might reflect his relationship with John F. Rague, who designed Old Capitol. It also reflects the housing styles of his native New York, and is very similar to the “farmhouse elevation” found in Minard Lafever’s work, Young Builder’s General Instructor.

Back in the day, the forested prairie surrounding Rose Hill was simply called Irish’s Woods.

Irish’s descendants owned the property until 1964, when the city bought 17.5 acres, making it into a section of today’s Hickory Hill Park.

On a beautiful August day in 2021, Sandy & I took a nice long walk in Irish’s Woods – now called Hickory Hill Park – located less than three miles from our home in southeast Iowa City. I took a bunch of photos along the way so that you can journey along with us…

This is how Rose Hill, located at 1415 Davenport Street, just outside Hickory Hill Park, appears today.

F.M. Irish’s descendants owned Rose Hill and much of the surrounding property until 1964, when the city bought 17.5 acres, making it into the first section of today’s Hickory Hill Park.

The remainder of the Irish property was developed into new housing, but fortunately the original Rose Hill home (see above) was saved from the wrecking ball, being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

In today’s southern-most section of Hickory Hill, there are several markers pointing out some of the rich history of this part of the city.

The city has done a great job in taking this historical site and turning it into a beautiful green space where today’s Iowa Citians can enjoy its natural beauty.

This historical marker helps us remember the significance of this land in Iowa City history.

Thanks to The City of Iowa City website – take this short virtual tour of Hickory Hill Park.

Hickory Hill Park – or shall I say, Irish’s Woods? What a beautiful park – year round. Come to Iowa City and we’ll tour it with you!


Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.

Rose Hill, Iowa City, Iowa, Wikipedia

Hickory Hill Park, City of Iowa City


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