The building will house Linn County Public Health and Child & Youth Development Services
The Linn County Board of Supervisors today voted unanimously to honor the late community icons Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris by naming the new Linn County Public Health and Child & Youth Development Services Building after them in recognition of their lifetime of dedication and service to health and education in Linn County.
Linn County and OPN Architects are nearing completion for the design of the approximately 55,000 square foot building that will be built on county-owned land near the Medical District, NewBo, and Oakhill Jackson neighborhoods and will be called the Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris building.
“This is a big win for the community,” said Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker. “Dr. Harris and his wife Lileah were not only trailblazers for the causes of civil and human rights, but they were model citizens, and taught us all so much about our shared humanity.”
“The story of my family couldn’t be written without a few chapters devoted to Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris,” said Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers. “The Harris’ have been friends to three generations of my family. Dr. Harris was my father’s doctor and delivered both my brother and me. The Harris’ commitment to health and education is a perfect representation of how this building will serve the community through public health and child education.”
The Harris family shared the following statement:
“We are pleased that the Linn County Supervisors have proposed naming the Public Health and Child & Youth Development Services Building in honor of our parents. They were both advocates for the entire community - and this combination of health and education is especially fitting. Naming this building after them is not only a tribute to their legacy, but also something which we appreciate.”
Dr. Percy Harris and his wife Lileah were respected community leaders, advocates for the arts and education, and champions of civil rights. The couple moved to Cedar Rapids in 1957 after Dr. Harris accepted an internship at St. Luke’s Hospital. Dr. Harris was the first African American physician in Cedar Rapids where he built his medical practice. Dr. Harris also served as Linn County Medical Examiner for nearly 40 years. Some of his other community roles included serving as president of the Cedar Rapids chapter of the NAACP, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Jane Boyd Community House, serving on the St. Luke’s Hospital Board of Directors and an appointment to the Iowa Board of Regents. He was also the recipient of numerous awards.
Lileah was a pianist, active church member, and an advocate for lifelong learning and education. Lileah earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian from the University of Iowa at the age of 62. Some of Lileah’s community roles included serving on the board of the NAACP, membership on the Cedar Rapids Human Rights Commission and serving on the Board of Directors of the Cedar Rapids Symphony Guild. Dr. Percy Harris died in January 2017. Lileah died in 2014. They were married for 63 years and raised 12 children.
Background on the Building
Linn County employees and community members, including the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association, provided significant input for the design of the Linn County Public Health and Child & Youth Development Services Building and associated uses of the site.
The location for the approximately 55,000 sq. ft. building is Linn County-owned property, formerly home to Options of Linn County, roughly two blocks south of Mercy Hospital bordered by 10th and 11th Avenues SE.
The building includes a playground and gymnasium integral to the programming of Child & Youth Development Services and a community meeting room for use by all departments in the building. These features serve as both essential building elements and as community amenities open to the public after business hours and on weekends.
Linn County is committed to energy efficiency and sustainable design, construction, operation and maintenance standards. This building will attain LEED certification and includes features such as a cistern for the collection and re-use of rainwater.
The estimated schedule is to begin construction this year with a completion date in 2018.