How about that staircase? If you've got $174,000 or so floating around, it can be yours. And that's not a bad price. But I don't have it --- and I'm not in the mood to move to Ottumwa right now. Even though I like the town and it has the biggest collection of smack-em-in-the-eye, let's show off late 19th and early 20th century houses in southern Iowa.
This one, on the market through Coldwell Banker, is located at 128 E. 5th St. in the Fifth Street Bluff Historic District, which rises to the northeast above downtown. It's just across the street northwest of Trinity Episcopal Church, one of my favorite buildings in the whole wide world. I'd like that. Out one front door and into another on Sunday mornings. Besides, I'd never have to feel cramped again.
You'd also have to be committed to an ongoing restoration project, however. The exterior looks a little rough right now --- although that appears to be mostly cosmetic. The house obviously has been fairly well maintained and little altered since it was built somewhere in the neighborhood of 1900. This is the house view uphill along East 5th Street.
And this is the view to the northwest from the intersection of East Fifth and North Market. Below is a view of the house from the back. These are Realtor photos, by the way --- not mine.
It's hard to put a name to the home's style. I've seen it called Queen Anne, shingle and just plain old Victorian. After spotting a Dutch colonial gable on one side, I decided to call it eclectic --- although shingle may come closest.
Here's the Realtor description of the house: "This gorgeous home, known as the Taylor Mansion, was built by Charles Taylor from 1898-1900. He traveled the country to hand select the 8 different kinds of hardwood woodwork found throughout the home, including inlaid hardwood floors and pocket doors. The 6 fireplaces, all uniquely carved and tiled, and an impressive entryway and parlor will wow your guests as you entertain! Plenty of room for family and guests. Would make a lovely Bed & Breakfast! The 3rd floor walk-up attic/ballroom could be finished for even more living space with great views of the river and downtown! The current owner has meticulously restored the home and it is a work in progress. On three large lots in the Fifth Street Historic District! Don't miss out on this one!! Call, text or e-mail Melissa Palen at 641-777-1329 or melissa.palen@coldwellbanker to schedule your private viewing!"
I left the contact information in, just in case you're interested.
A Web site devoted to Ottumwa's historic districts describes the house as "... a two and one-half story Shingle style house that was designed by Omaha architects Fisher & Lowrie. This fine example of the somewhat rare style was built between 1892-1897. It retains an unusually high level of integrity, with all original detailing in place. The rounded shingled corners of the second and third floors are especially nice elements. This remains in the family of the original owner."
This information probably is a bit outdated, since I'd guess the house has passed from the family of the original owner and is now for sale again.
Those old guys knew how to waste space in a grand manner. Here are four more views of the entrance hall, which incorporates the sort-of tower at the home's northwest corner. The first looks down the stairs, the second up the stairs, the third at the fireplace beside the staircase and the fourth, directly at the door leading into the vestibule off the front, or northeast, porch.
If you walked straight ahead through the entrance hall, you'd land in the dining room directly behind it. Here's a view from the dining room door to the front door --- and look at that floor in this photo and others of the dining room that follow it.
If you walked back into the entrance hall from the dining room and turned right thorough double pocket doors, you'd bee in what originally was the front parlor, in the southeast corner of the house.
Looking southwest in the front parlor, you can see the two double pocket doors that provide access to it, the one at right leading to the entrance hall and the one at left leading into the back parlor.
Here's a detail of the hadware on the pocket doors leading into the back parlor.
The back parlor connects the front parlor and the dining room in an L-shaped arrangement. Its windows face to the southeast, looking out at Trinity Episcopal. The view here, however, is to the northwest. The open door on the left leads into the dining room and the door on the right, into the entrance hall.
Here's a view of the northeast wall of the back parlor showing doors into the entrance hall, the front parlor and, to the right, into a vestibule that leads to an exterior door that opens onto the front porch, which wraps around the southeast corner of the building.
A door to the left of the back parlor fireplace leads into this long and narrow room, still undergoing restoration, in the southwest corner of the house --- perhaps originally a study or a downstairs bedroom in times when one was needed.
The kitchen, in the northwest corner of the house is pleasant, but relatively simple. Kitchens in those days were intended to be practical, but not necessarily extravagant.
There reportedly are five bedrooms on the second floor with simpler woodwork and lower ceilings, but pleasant none-the-less. This appears to have been the master bedroom, located at the head of the front stairs with double doors leading into what may have been a sitting or dressing room that would include the second level of the tower.
And finally, at the top of the house (but there's attic above it), this vast open space that probably once served as a recreation room. It's described as a ballroom, as these top-of-the-house spaces in many vast old houses often are.
If you're interested in more detailed information about this grand old Ottumwa house, here's a link to the "Zillow" listing.