The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 10, 2013

The Koons’ Mansion

In 1856, William Koons came to Clinton and helped build the first railroad bridge for the Northwestern to Little Rock Island -- where a small village existed for ten years, until a permanent span could be constructed across the river. He was a master carpenter who had immigrated from Perry City or Germantown, PA via Lockport, NY. It is said he walked the 350 miles to New York.


In Iowa, William would dabble in both building and real estate. The Koons Block can be seen on old plats of downtown Clinton, near where the first Clinton National Bank was, on 2nd Street. He is also credited with building The Clinton Hotel, which used to be on the corner of 7th Avenue So. and 2nd Street. He is believed to have completed his mansion in Chancy in the early 1860’s.


William Koons married Phillipa Jane Retallick, an Englishwoman, in 1853. Together, they raised five children in the home, a daughter and two sons born to them, and William’s young George and Sarah, from a prior marriage out east. Phillipa survived her husband’s 1889 death, and carried on the Koons family business until her death in 1919; all the while living with her elder son, Charles, in that elegant spacious home of nine rooms on the corner of Camanche Avenue and Harrison (now 22nd Place).


William and Phillipa (pronounced Fil'-ih-pah) had settled in the addition south of town then called Riverside, but which would later become known as Chancy.…likely because Chancy Lamb once had influence there.… probably before he built his mansion on Seventh Avenue, along DeWitt Park’s south side, circa 1875.


At one time, the Koons family owned that whole section along Camanche Avenue -- all the way up to the Country Club! During her lifetime, Mrs. Koons subdivided sections of the parcel. Her children would later sell the homestead and its surrounding land to the city for five dollars, with the stipulation that it be used as a park. Because of its name, Chancy Park is sometimes mistakenly identified as a donation by the well-known lumber baron. It was not, and might more fittingly have been named “Koons Park.”

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