The Banta House head-on from the north, what passers-by on Highway 34 see.
Hadn’t intended to get stuck on big old houses, but noticed Saturday that Osceola’s Banta House has been on the market since spring. If you don't know the territory, Osceola is the first county seat (Clarke County) west of Chariton.
This arguably is south central Iowa’s most widely recognized big old house in part because of its extravagant porches and painted-lady exterior but also because of its location --- smack dab on U.S. Highway 34 just west of its intersection with Highway 65 in the heart of town.
These are not my photos, by the way --- but plucked from the Realtor site. The home's exterior is so distinctive that the photos look like watercolors --- as if the structure had been imagined by an artist rather than actually built.
If you crave attention and have $300,000, this is just the house for you --- you’re bound to be noticed, all the time. The building sits on about an acre of ground and a free-standing garage with what seems to be a nice apartment upstairs is just to its southeast.
It seems to me that the house has been used for offices, but I could easily be mistaken about that. It looks somewhat unoccupied, and that could be a reason.
The interiors are not as extravagant as the exterior --- but I like that. I’m a fan of plain light walls that allow woodwork to be appreciated, and don’t especially care for stereotypical pseudo-Victorian interiors that look like a peacock ate a fabric store, then an antique shop --- and finally threw up all over the place.
I can see contemporary art in this house and fine furniture --- not necessarily Victorian. If you had the $300,000 needed to buy it, you could also afford the art and furniture, presumably.
The exception in this house is the front parlor (above), with fright wallpaper, a replacement front window with small panes and a chunk of stained glass jammed into the west window. I'd have that wallpaper off in no time at all.and all the furniture, rugs and curtains chucked out.
The stair hall is more like it --- grand, and I like the stair, but you’ve got to wonder about these big old houses where a drafty "greeting room" is the biggest in the house --- did the builders really throw enough parties to justify its existence?
I actually like the way the back parlor looks --- sorry about that. Let's get some art in here, perhaps not an inexpensive radio as the principal accessory.
The dining room is cool, too --- especially the fretwork in the window bay. Envision dank reproduction wallpaper or horrid dark paint in this room and you can practically see the fretwork recede.
The bedrooms upstairs appear to be pleasant. There reportedly are four bedrooms and four bathrooms in the house.
Here's a view of one of the bathrooms, upstairs I would guess.
And I even like the basement family room, unusual in a house of this age where the underpinnings tend to look more like a dungeon than some place you’d want to spend quality time.
Anyhow, life on Highway 34 doesn’t appeal to me, but if you’re interested, here’s the listing at Zillow.