200 Block, Main St. : The Syndicate Block
In the late 1800s, it was common for investors in growing communities in the Upper Midwest to pool their resources to erect large, consolidated retail structures. The Syndicate Block is on such project, which was undertaken by the collective La Porte City Improvement Company in 1891, creating four adjoining commercial spaces. Another investor, J.M. Hileman, added a fifth section on the south end in 1894, which housed his furniture store for nearly 20 years.
The connecting buildings are an excellent example of Late Victorian architecture, particularly the brick pilasters surmounted with pinnacles that divide each of the buildings, and the arched windows across the entire second floor. A common entrance to the upstairs is found between 210 and 212 Main Street. The upper level originally featured a large dance hall and banquet area. For many years, various spaces in the block area were occupied by social and fraternal groups, including the Masonic Trowel Lodge, International Order of Odd Fellows, and Rebekahs.
Many commercial entities also have been based in the Syndicate Block — general stores, grocery stores, taverns, restaurants and even churches. The north building once was home to the Pastime Theatre. It was a popular social destination that featured an orchestra pit and wooden seats for guests, and brought the excitement of the silver screen to La Porte City residents for several decades in the early 1900s.