The house was built in 1947 by Edward L. "Ned" Ashton as a private residence. Ashton, who has been called "the most distinguished bridge engineer in the history of Iowa," was a professor of civil engineering at the University of Iowa from 1943 to 1957. He designed several bridges over the Mississippi River, as well as smaller bridges such as the Benton Street Bridge, and was a pioneer in the design of welded plate girder bridges.
The single-story ranch house, built from stone and concrete, shows Prairie School influence in the way it was incorporated into its location alongside the Iowa River. Both the main and lower levels of the house provided excellent views of the river.
Following the 2008 flood, Iowa City began buying up flooded properties. As of Oct. 25, 2011, the city had purchased the Ashton House. By the end of the buy-out program in mid-2012, the city had purchased all but one neighboring house, with demolition slated for completion before 2013. The city plans to preserve the Ned Ashton House, renting it out as a venue for such events as receptions and meetings.