About Old Brick

Historic event venue in the heart of Iowa City, Iowa.

A Community Gathering Place

Located in the heart of Iowa City, Old Brick was built in 1856 and was originally used as North Presbyterian Church. It is one of the few surviving local structures dating from the Civil War or earlier. In 1973 Old Brick was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Old Brick has been fully remodeled and is the perfect venue to host your wedding, private party, or community event. With a full kitchen, dressing rooms for weddings, Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, handicap accessibility, and an updated sound system in our main ballroom Old Brick has all of the amenities needed to host a modern event in a venue with historical charm.

A Mission to Serve

Old Brick is owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. It represents ministry, fellowship, and community and provides a venue for the exchange of ideas, artistic expression, educational activities, the promotion of social justice, and the collaboration of entities in the pursuit of service to the poor and others with special needs.

With these values at the forefront, Old Brick is committed to offering subsidized rental rates to non-profit organizations through our non-profit incubator.

Dressing Rooms

Dressing rooms and/or staging space are available in our lower level.

Modern Technology

Speakers, wireless projectors, screens and WiFi are all available at Old Brick.

Wheelchair Accessible

Old Brick is equipped with an inclined platform lift and handicap-accessible restrooms.

Kitchen Space

A newly renovated, commercially licensed professional kitchen with daily or hourly rental rates available.

Fully Renovated

Old Brick has all of the amenities needed to host a modern event in a venue with historical charm.

Office Space

Office space at Old Brick is available for rent to non-profit organizations.

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Old Brick Venue

Old Brick Begins - 1856

In 1856 First Presbyterian Church began building the present Old Brick. Construction was delayed during a national financial panic that was particularly difficult for the new business enterprises in Iowa City. They were also adversely affected by the decision to move the Iowa state capital from Iowa City to Des Moines in 1857. It was not until after the Civil War that Old Brick was completed and finally dedicated on August 20, 1865.

The building was designed in a Romanesque revival style. It was built of soft red brick, that is 3 inches thick at the foundation and tapers to 1.5 inches thick at the rafters. This brick was locally manufactured before the Civil War. The rafters in the nave are 1.5 square feet and made of hand-hewn walnut.

Old Brick Venue

Old Brick Through The Years

The brick belfry section of Old Brick's tower was destroyed when the spire was blown off in 1877. When the decision was made not to replace the spire, the belfry was redesigned into a battlement tower, which still stands 125 years later.

A north wing addition to the building was completed in 1914. It was added to accommodate the congregation's ministry to Presbyterian students and to provide offices "with heat and light, for the university pastor."

In 1953 the west wing was added to provide space for the congregation's growing work with university students. This wing presently is used as offices for several social service agencies that continue to serve the community

More recently Old Brick has undergone a complete renovation that has provided a remodeled kitchen; a refinished entryway, stairs, and upper hallway and new windows in the office wing; a new hardwood floor and new entry doors into a repainted Hall; a dressing room for weddings; new tables and chairs for renters; new exterior landscaping; new flooring in the front entryway; and additional air­conditioning in the Main Hall.

With grants from the State Historical Society of Iowa Old Brick has installed new gutters, soffits, and downspouts; repaired and repainted exterior window trim; installed a chairlift for accessibility to the Main Hall; rebuilt a restroom for handicapped accessibility; and installed a new speaker system in the Hall.

A major repointing project was completed in 2006 that involved cleaning the building's brick exterior, replacing mortar and damaged bricks, and rebuilding the chimney.

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Old Brick Venue

A Change of Ownership & Mission

Beginning in 1971, the First Presbyterian congregation considered relocating. In January 1974 the building was purchased by the University of Iowa, to be razed to create green space. However, a few months earlier it had been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, qualifying it for matching federal funds for use in its preservation.

Many people in Iowa City were in turmoil at the prospect of the church's demolition. Citizens organized, and the Board of Regents was lobbied. A court injunction failed. In the Old Brick tower, a hunger striker carried out a sit-in. National news media covered the events. The old church's survival was insured, however, only with its purchase in 1977 by the limited partnership "Old Brick Associates". One of their partners, "Friends of Old Brick", a non-profit corporation composed of volunteers, dedicated themselves to restoring the nave as a public auditorium.

In 1987 The Episcopal Chaplaincy and Lutheran Campus Ministry purchased Old Brick as a home for their ministries and to provide a space for outreach to the community. They have remodeled the building for ministry to campus and community.

Old Brick Venue

Statement of Values

Old Brick is a historic landmark owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa. It represents ministry, fellowship, and community. It provides a venue for the exchange of ideas, artistic expression, educational activities, the promotion of social justice, and the collaboration of entities in the pursuit of service to the poor and others with special needs. Upholding these values are the following commitments:

  • To treat all people fairly, with dignity and respect;
  • To be honest, ethical, and uphold the highest standards of behavior in all our dealings;
  • To be responsible stewards of the property, and to be sensitive to the well-being of the environment;
  • To promote the gathering of people from diverse backgrounds to promote reconciliation, conflict resolution, and peacemaking;
  • To encourage positive social interaction between and among all communities we serve; and to the extent possible, provide a space for non-profit organizations & related initiatives.
Old Brick Venue

Our Mission

Old Brick's mission is to enrich the community as a historic landmark, to serve the community as a gathering place, and to support the community as a home for Episcopal and benevolent non-profit groups.