Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Kay's Garden (Part 2): Roses, &tc.

This is the second installment of photos taken during May and June in gardens surrounding the fine old house in northeast Chariton that is the home of my friends, Kay Brown and Rex Johnson.

Kay is the principal gardener here, as she is on the Lucas County Historical Society campus --- and the variety of plants is amazing; today, roses old-fashioned and otherwise, a couple of varieties of late-blooming iris and Canterbury bells.

I mentioned in Part I that Dr. D.W. and Martha Waynick and their family settled on this corner during the mid-1850s when, of course, it wasn't a corner at all --- just along a road in the country northeast of Chariton leading out into the Little White Breast hills east of town. D.W. Waynick died in 1880 and Martha continued to live in the old home here until 1897.

Here's how the block where the house is located looked in 1896 --- divided into three large lots with Martha's to the east. The biggest lot, to the west, still was the site of a big brick house, considered a mansion in its time, built by D.W. Waynick's brother, David D., the principal entrepreneur in this pioneer Lucas County family. In 1896, the house was occupied by David's son, Fred M. Waynick.

Charles R. Kirk, who operated a drug store and also dealt in fine horses, occupied what became during 1897 the home of Dr. Theodore P. Stanton and his family on former Waynick land in the middle of the block. The house here is the oldest still standing in the neighborhood. 

Martha's more modest home was located at the east end of the block, the entire area bordered to the north and east by O.A. Bartholomew's Orchard Addition to the city of Chariton, so-called because much of it had been David D. Waynick's orchard and many of the lots still contained his fruit trees when the acreage was subdivided.

During the late summer of 1897, Martha Waynick sold the old family homestead to Harry O. Penick, rising young Chariton banker and real estate entrepreneur, and moved into a small rented house just to the west, in the 700 block of Auburn Avenue. Martha continued to live in Chariton until 1899, when she moved to Gold Bar, Washington, to live with her son, William H. She died there on Nov. 29, 1903, at the age of 74.

I've written about Harry before, primarily in his role as builder of Slab Castle --- his "rustic retreat" along the Chariton River in Benton Township, southeast of Chariton.

In the fall of 1897, he was preparing to marry a belle of Burlington, Mabel Wadleigh, and so during October moved the old Waynick home to a new location on the lot so that construction of what was described as a "fine mansion" for his bride could begin.

Harry and Mabel were married at Christ Church in Burlington on Jan. 17, 1898, and returned to Chariton to live during late spring after a long honeymoon. The couple moved into to their new home during May and, during June, Martha Waynick's old home was moved off the lot to a new location elsewhere in the neighborhood.

The Penicks enjoyed their new home for four years --- entertaining grandly. Their daughter, Mildred, was born here.

Then, on May 16, 1902, Mabel Penick died here after a brief illness and little Mildred was placed in the care of her maternal grandparents in Burlington.

Harry Penick had extraordinarily bad luck with his houses --- he built three especially grand ones that burned during transitional periods in his life, two in Chariton and one in the Pacific Northwest. His Auburn Avenue house was the first.

Harry reportedly had visited Mildred in Burlington, then headed for Des Moines on business, when neighbors noticed that his home was on fire just after daylight on Aug. 5, 1902.

Chariton firefighters had just returned to Chariton  after helping to fight a massive blaze that destroyed much of the business district in Lucas when Dr. Theodore P. Stanton and others sounded the alarm. Firefighters hauled Old Betsy to the pond then occupying much of what now is Yocom Park, then pumped water from the pond up Sixth Street to fight the blaze.

Neighbors were able to save many of the home's contents, but the roof and second floor were heavily damaged. Only the front porch and a few first-floor rooms were intact, although extensively damaged by smoke and water.

A cause for the blaze never was determined, although it was reported that a fire had been started during the afternoon of the previous day in the kitchen stove --- and the fire first was noticed in rooms on the second floor of the kitchen wing.

Whatever the case, when Harry disembarked at the depot later in the day he found his fine mansion a smoking ruin.

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