What does a fireplace in a circa 1888 Victorian in Estherville have to do with the first queen of the 1905 Rose Bowl parade?
Well, everything, actually.
Hallie Emily Wood, whose girlish visage is depicted in a fireplace tile in the home owned by Gary Haney, later moved to California with her family and a few years later was chosen queen of the first Rose Bowl parade in 1905. The girl shown in the other fireplace tile on the right is Hazel Bromfield Wood, her sister, who was also a member of that same Rose Bowl court.
Hallie Emily Wood, center, was queen of the first Rose Bowl court in 1905, joined by her sister, Hazel Bromfield Wood, far right.
Haney recently listed the home on 1.7 acres on West First St. North for sale since he's bought another in Texas.
According to Haney, Edward Wood, the girls' father who built the Queen Anne Victorian, was a banker in Estherville. The land the house sits on came from Robert and Esther Ridley, Estherville's founders.
A forested ravine backs the home to the west and the sprawling east lawn unfolds to a view of the rapids of the west fork of the Des Moines River.
Wood died in 1890, not long not after the home was finished, and Mrs. Wood remarried and moved with her daughters to Pasadena, Calif.
The Allen family bought the home from Mrs. Wood, and five generations of Allens lived there over the next 80 years. The home next went to Tom Davies who sold it to Norman Blass. The Blasses lived in it for about 35 years before the Haneys bought it in 2003.
The Haneys quite virtually stumbled into the house by accident. Gary fondly recalls his grandparents' home in the town of Homer in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. It was while the Haneys were at Laura's parents' home in Spirit Lake in 1997, looking at Victorians there, when they came back through Estherville and saw the house for the first time. "It reminded me of my childhood down there," Haney said of the house. It would be another six years before they bought it.
After studying the home for the nine months, Haney spent 10 years meticulously restoring it, right down to the original shakes and spindles on the peaks. It cost $8,000 alone to replace a bay parlor window.
Haney is quick to dispel any notions that the house is haunted - though he did find a hidden treasure while tearing out a built-in bookcase. When he ripped out a board, an antique gurkha knife fell to the floor, along with $2,600 in tens, twenties and fifties.
Haney built from scratch a garage connected to the home and true to the its architecture, with room for two cars plus an alcove for motorcycles. He also built a second garage with complete kitchen and a covered area with an outdoor pizza oven.
Strangely, Haney didn't even know about the fireplace with the two little girls memorialized in the tiles. He only learned about that through a magazine article stapled into the abstract book.
Haney is holding a garage sale this weekend and again next weekend to clear out some unneeded items. Beyond that, though, he's looking for a buyer who appreciates the home's history.
"I'm looking for somebody like myself who has a vision," he said.