Stewartville was founded in 1857 as a small prairie village. There were three streets off of Main Street – Lake, Center, and Church. Lot 2 of the original plat of the “Village of Stewartville” was at the corner of Lake and Main. Nicholas Kaskagan was the original owner of the plat and sold the plat to Charles Stewart in 1857. The lot was home to John Herrick’s Tin Shop starting in the 1860’s. Truman and Luella Horton owned the property from 1887 until William S. Davis and his wife Harriet purchased the property 1895.
During this period the cornerstone of Stewartville was the mill built on the banks of the river. When the railroad come through town, Stewartville grew as a regional farming and industrial center. Lake Street became the premier residential address. “Silk Stocking Row” was the home of doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs.
William Davis was a successful businessman whose primary residence was in Walworth, Wisconsin – a small town between Chicago and Milwaukee. According to the 1910 census, he sold “crockery” while maintaining a grocery business in Wisconsin. He began building his Stewartville home in 1898. Three years later, he moved into his Victorian-styled home with his wife Harriett and a 60 year-old widowed housemaid, Mary Brumbaugh. Over the next ten years, William and Harriett had five children - Madeline, Allen, Rollin, Isabel, and Jasmine – who were all were born in Wisconsin. It is presumed William used his Stewartville home as a remote “office” for his extended sales operations and his Stewartville-based general store. In the late 1900’s, Van’s great-grandfather, John, was building his barn on the Beach farm. The nails and other metalwork were provided by W.S. Davis, as evidenced by a plaque attached to the interior of the building.
In 1910, a well-documented fire struck the Davis’s general store. With his business decimated, he cut ties with Stewartville. William and Harriett sold the home to Tobias Hogenson, at the time, a clerk at First National Bank. Tobias and his wife Thora moved in with their 5 children, Selma, Alma, Palmer, Helen, and Esther. Tobias and Thora were immigrants from Norway who had made their home in Stewartville. Over the next ten years, Tobias and Thora would raise their children at the Lake Street home. By 1920, Selma and Alma had moved back to their childhood home and were teachers at the Stewartville school. Tobias was now a banker at First National Bank. Helen would also become a teacher at the Stewartville school. By 1930, Tobias was President of the First National Bank. He died in 1932.
In 1920, Tobias and Thora sold the home to Bruno Poppen. Bruno lived in the home for 5 years until he could no longer make the payments and home was foreclosed in 1925. The next two years were a legal struggle as the mortgage holder, Albert Jahns, had passed away in 1920 and the mortgage was now held by Albert’s estate. After several transactions and ownership passing from executors, to trusts (the Jahn’s heiress was a minor), to banks - P. H. Laivell and his wife Nona took possession of the home in May of 1927 before selling to Joseph and Mary Mayou in July of 1927. Ruth Ringey provided the mortgage of $2500 to finance the purchase.
So in 1927, Joseph and Mary Mayou and their three children, Isaac (23), Genevieve (15), Edna (10), and Marcella (9) moved to Silk Stocking Row. Just two short years after moving into the home, Joseph Mayou passed away in 1929 at the age of 64. In the midst of the Great Depression, times were not easy. Isaac worked as a farm laborer while his younger sisters attended school. The Mayou’s opened their home to boarders to supplement income. During the years of Prohibition, they had a still in the attic and used the home’s dumbwaiter to sneak alcohol to the boarders.
Down the street, the Tews Hotel was celebrating nearly 20 years in business. Jackson Cussons, owner of the Flour Mill lived a few doors away. Across the road, Merritt Tubb’s daughters, Avis and Alice were now 25 and 21. Alice would marry Robert Beach, a local farmer. Alice and Robert are Van’s grandparents.
Mary Mayou lived in the home until Mary passed away in 1953. Isaac oversaw the sale of his family’s home to Alexander and Dorothy Winkels for $9,050 in 1954. The Winkels raised a large family in the home and Dorothy’s large fern in the north window became a signature sight for passers-by. They often opened their home to friends and family. During one reunion of extended family, Elmer and Alverna Miller, visited Al and Dorothy at 309 North Main street. Elmer and Alverna are Lori’s grandparents.
Jane and Joe Himmer purchased the home in 2002 with Dorothy’s blessing. They opened the home to the community as the local business “Home Sweet Home.” The Himmers took meticulous care of the house while inviting thousands of patrons to shop their unique collection of arts, crafts, and home decorations. Patrons also enjoyed the opportunity to finally see the incredible detail and elegance of the home. The house became a community treasure.
In 2010, Van and Lori Beach purchased the home and re-opened as the Stewartville Heritage House. Lori and Van are humbled by the opportunity to be the latest stewards of the home. Laurie Wildeman has embraced her role as the House Hostess and looks forward to every opportunity to introduce the home to new guests and patrons.