This Old House by Mariann Martens

This Old House

By WGS Historian/Archivist Mariann Martens

The house located on the northwest corner of the intersection of 400 Atlantic and Summit streets was constructed by Andrew Backus and his son, Charles, for Winter and Ida Madsen and family.

Before the construction began the old house was moved across the street to the east at 407 Atlantic Street where the Terry Green family now live.

The Madsen house as it appeared in 1918

We have been told that the cost of the house construction was $5,000. Oscar Petersen, who was manger of the lumber yard at that time, told us that nothing but the very best of material was used.

The Madsen’s youngest daughter, Lois Madsen Leenan, told us they moved into the new house 21 June 1918 on her 18th birthday. The exterior of this four bedroom Victorian house was covered with stucco. From what we found, as we worked on the house, we believe the original paint was a cream color with the wood trim painted a wine color.

This well built house has beautiful oak woodwork downstairs and upstairs. There is a large open front porch across the east side of the house and partway around the south side.

The downstairs has a large living room, 14′ by 20′, with colonnades on the north and west sides of the room. The colonnades on the west between the living room and dining room have built in bookcases with glass doors. There is a built in love seat in the northwest corner. The four windows in the living room are 4 over 1, 4 long panels on the upper portion and 1 panel on the bottom. All the rest of the windows are 3 over 1.

There are 3 sets of French doors. One opens off the living room into the sunroom, one off the dining room into the sunroom, and the third set opens off the sunroom onto the front porch.

There is a nice sized formal dining room with a swinging door into the kitchen.

The kitchen still had the original cupboards in it when we lived there.

The back porch just had screen on the windows, no glass. Bob put on combination windows and a storm door.

There is a beautiful open stairway to the upstairs with a small stained glass window.

There are four bedrooms upstairs, a sleeping porch, and the bathroom. The master bedroom is a spacious 14′ by 15′ with 4 windows and a closet. The other three bedrooms are smaller and the sleeping porch was narrow.

There is a full walk-up attic and a full basement.

Looking back on the deed to the property, its legal description is “Lots 7 and 8 in Block 5 of the town of Walnut.” Some of the legal transactions were:

4 Oct 1873 – Benjamin F. Allen sold to Christ Voss.

22 Oct 1874 – Christ Voss to Martin O. McLimas.

1 Mar 1900 – Joseph Boiler Estate heirs to Gustav Wolff – $800.

5 Jul 1917 – Gustav Wolff and Kate Wolff to W.J. Madsen – $3,200.

1 May 1925 – W.J. Madsen and wife Ida Madsen to Louisa M. Johnson mortgages – $6,000.

Sept 1932 – Foreclosed in court in Avoca, IA. Madsen Bankruptcy proceedings Mrs. Louisa Johnson VS Ida Madsen.

31 Oct 1932 – Judgment for $6,094.66 plus other costs. Execution issued 3 Nov 1932. Satisfied in full by sale of real estate. Sheriffs deed $6,260.04.

13 Dec 1933 – Sheriffs of Pott. Co. to Mrs. Louisa M. Johnson.

Louisa M. Johnson, widow to W.J. Nilan – $2,600.

4 Jan 1962 – W.J. Nilan, single, to J.W. Davis $5,250.

10 Jun 1963 – J.W. Davis and Olga Davis to Emma Thoms – $5,250.

16 Feb 1968 – Emma Thoms and August Thoms to Robert W. Martens and Mariann Martens – $10,000.

Aug 1987 – Robert W. Martens and Mariann A. Martens to Ardelle K. Eiben and Janice E. Eiben – $40,000.

1995 – Ardelle K. and Janice Eiben to Carlyle and Denise Andersen – $82,500.

The Andersens sold to the present owners.

The house as it appears today

While we were living there Bob tore the dormer off the west side of the roof. It was in bad shape and he was getting ready to have a new roof. Carl Martin and crew put on the new roof.

Eventually Bob and Mariann knocked all the stucco off and had insulation blown in. We put pre-painted masonite siding on. We painted it white with dark brown trim. Bob put on 52 aluminum combination storm windows. In 1978 we had permanent brown siding put on the high gables where we had left the stucco before.

The Eiben’s had the kitchen remodeled and made the back porch into a laundry room and half bath. They has the attic finished and had the house air conditioned. They hooked up to city water as the well on the property had always been used before.