Davenport Campus

2012: The 100th anniversary of the B.J. and Mabel Palmer residence

The B.J. and Mabel Palmer Residence.
B.J. and Mabel Palmer sitting

A century has passed since Drs. B.J. and Mabel and young Dave Palmer took up residence at 808 Brady Street in Davenport. When the Palmers purchased it in 1912 for $25,000, it became the third building on the Palmer School of Chiropractic campus.

Over the years the home has become a museum filled with souvenirs the Palmer family brought home from their travels abroad in the 1920s—ranging from priceless Asian art to eclectic knickknacks. Tours of the residence are offered each week on Friday mornings or by appointment throughout the week. Several times a year, large groups of tourists brought to the area by the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau stop by for tours.

Senior Director for Palmer History Alana Callender, Ed.D., Curator Roger Hynes, D.C., and Museum Coordinator Julie Knaak serve as caretakers for the residence and conduct tours. They are assisted by the Campus Guides, who lead tours during Homecoming and other events, as well as a number of faithful volunteers, many of them alumni, who help with maintenance and cleaning projects during volunteer work days held at least annually.

The Residence was selected to be on the National Register of Historic Places because of its unique porch, which was added during the 1921-22 campus expansion. It was used by the Palmers for meetings of faculty, the Universal Chiropractic Association and Palmer Broadcasting. Dr. Dave Palmer said in his memoir, “Every meal was a meeting.”

Though Little Bit O’ Heaven, an exotic garden adjacent to the Residence, was closed down in the 1960s and eventually demolished to make room for campus expansion, its Courtyard remained. The surroundings for the giant bronze “Wishing Buddha” and smaller “Healing Buddha” deteriorated. Since 1997, Dr. Callender and her staff have worked to make it a haven again for Palmer students, employees and visitors with more seating areas and flowers.

This summer the Courtyard underwent a major renovation, including replacing the old pavement with a friendlier surface and increasing the amount of green space, as well as adding a butterfly garden. The newly renovated space was dedicated with a ribboncutting during Homecoming, but the work continues and the next improvement to the Courtyard will be a fountain for which a fundraising campaign is underway. If you’re interested in contributing, contact Ms. Knaak at julie.knaak@palmer.edu.

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