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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Gray Matter : Beautiful Victorian home needs a buyer

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A "For Sale" sign appeared on the spacious lawn; a Home of the Week ad featured the stately old

place in the weekly paper. So it must be true.  A piece of local history is now on the market in

our town. 

The beautiful house at 400 E. Spruce St., in Marcus, is owned by retired postmaster, George

Engebretson and wife, Karyn.  It was built in 1898 by Marcus pioneer, E.J.

Edmonds, at the height of the Victorian Revival period of American architecture.  He came to

town from rural Rock Township in 1885, having purchased  interests in the Louis Gund

elevator from a Mr. Edson.  Edmonds became sole owner of the business the following year

and soon added a coal and lumberyard. 

His access to house plans and materials of the highest order are evident in this well-maintained home. 

It has endured a number of transformations but is once again a lovely family dwelling.

It is my understanding that E.J. Edmonds, who passed away in 1908, was survived by

his wife, Frances, who lived there until her death in 1935.  After that, the commodious place

was purchased by Lowell and Ruth Nelson and became both their residence and the Nelson

Funeral Home for some 20 years.  

When I recently inquired if those years might have supplied the embellishment of a "resident ghost,"

the Engebretsons' answer was a bit ambivalent, leaving me to suspect they feel that such a possibility

might just add to the charm.

When the  Nelsons moved to another location, the house was sold to Ed and Florence

Evans who lived in a portion of it and converted the remainder into apartments.  About 40

years ago Lucy Yoshioka, beloved vocal instructor, was one of the first to live in one of

them.  She and a number of her former students are still able to regale us with great stories of

that time.  Since then a good many local residents, most of them as newlyweds, have lived in

those facilities. 

      Through all of its incarnations, the fine old place has maintained its authentic charm.  It has been

beautifully restored and is in excellent condition.  There have to be some history buffs in our area who

could purchase it and enjoy living in this stunning piece of our past.  Or perhaps there are former

Iowans out there somewhere, aging baby boomers nearing retirement, who are weary of the urban

rat-race and ready to return to peaceful, small-town living.  This might be just the opportunity they

are looking for. 

No, I've not been offered a "cut" or anything like that.  I'm just a bit carried away with the hope that 

this local landmark will continue in caring hands for at least another century.