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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Steele home featured as Grand Old Home

Friday, June 16, 2006

(Photo)
Bonnie Varce, Joanne Steele (homeowner) and Bonnie Lewis are proud to feature the Steele mansion as the final featured Grand Old Home for the Sesquicentennial Celebration.
(Photo by Nancy Nelson)
The Steele Mansion, as it is popularly referred to in Cherokee, is the final installment of the Grand Old Home series featured in the Chronicle Times as part of the Sesquicentennial Celebration, which is just a couple of weeks away. This home is the true meaning of Grand Old Home and is as rich in history as it is in architectural detail and design.

The house that stands at 801 West Main Street was built by W.K. Herrick, a lawyer in Cherokee. He purchased the land in 1887 from the railroad, and construction started in 1891 and was completed in 1894. W.K. Herrick and his wife lived there until 1944 when it was sold to Lydia and Harrison Steele who resided there until 1960 when it was sold to Gordon and Joan Steele.

Upon completion, Mr. Herrick had a picture taken of the house and sent it to a photographer in Chicago. The picture was reduced and engraved into the bowls of 12 spoons. At that time, he named the house Elmdene because of the many elm trees planted on the property.

The foundation and first story are constructed from of stone from Sioux Falls granite which was brought in by train. The house has some very interesting features.

On the east side of the house there is a Port Cochere which was built to cover the carriages when people arrived. There is a very high step on the porch so the travelers could get out to the carriage directly onto the porch. Once inside, there is a lavatory near the front door so guests could wash off the dust from the journey.

The house has four fireplaces. The fireplace in the living room has tiles from Italy depicting the Goddesses of Twilight and Dawn and the God Apollo.

The dining room walls are covered with eleven layers of leather carved with the English and Roman feasting scenes. This room also has a drinking faucet mounted on granite which has its own refrigeration unit.

The house also has eight tower (turret) rooms and features 14 pocket doors all original to the house.

The garage was the former carriage house. The horses were kept in the basement with access to the alley, and the carriages were stored on the first floor. This was later converted to accommodate the Elmdene School of Cooking which was owned by Joan and Gordon Steele.


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Hi, I enjoyed your article on the Steele home. There is, however, one error worth noting which is that the home was built by Ernest C. Herrick, father to W.K. Herrick. W.K. Herrick later inherited the home from his father and lived there until his death. It is a beautiful and handsomely maintained home which is a proud Cherokee landmark. Thanks for sharing this information on this home with others.

-- Posted by okobojis on Sat, Jan 24, 2009, at 8:32 PM

Joan, I've had you on my mind, and started doing some looking around on the Internet ... that's when I saw that Gordon passed away in 2005. I found your house in the newspaper. Oh! I remember visiting it so many times. Eric and I loved to come visit you there with Mom and Dad, Shirley and Olie. How is Martha? Please contact me.

-- Posted by Olsenkid on Tue, Jan 26, 2010, at 9:13 AM


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