C.B. Jacquemin was a familiar name to Council Bluffs residents during the latter part of the 19th century. He was a reputable jeweler and respected civic leader whose name appeared across the top of nearly every page of some early city directories. He served on the school board for six years, was a member of the Young Men’s Library Association and was mayor in 1875.
Charles B. Jacquemin was born in Luxembourg, Germany, in 1839 and came to the United States in 1864 or 1865, several years after the arrival of his older sister, Clara. He went to several parts of the west before coming to Council Bluffs in May of 1865 where he established a jewelry business.
George Gerner was born in Baden, Germany, in 1831 and resided there for the first 19 years of his life, according to his obituary. In 1850, he came to America and settled in Weston, Missouri. During the Civil War, he served in the Missouri State Militia in the warfare waged against the guerilla bands that were numerous there.
In 1861, while in Weston, he married Clara Jacquemin. In 1865, the Gerner family moved to Council Bluffs.
In 1869, George Gerner went into business with his brother-in-law and the name became C.B. Jacquemin & Co. It is not clear whether they were partners, as one source stated; another source believed he was the “silent” partner.
Early city directories, while good sources of information, are not always complete, and sometimes present more questions than answers. The 1869 city directory lists “J.C. Jacquemin, Clocks and Watches” and “George Gerner, Jeweler”. (Dealers in clocks and watches were often called “jewelers”, and jewelers also offered clocks and watches; did each bring to the business a particular specialty?)
The city directory listed Gerner’s residence as “res w s Glen Dale avenue eighth west pierce” (west side of Glen Avenue , eighth house up from West Pierce) and Jacquemin’s as “res eighth w pierce” (eighth house from West Pierce). At that time, both would be consistent with the address of the new home at 170 Glen Ave.
In 1868, Jacquemin purchased the property and built the house shortly thereafter, sharing it with his sister’s family. Jacquemin never married. The 1870 federal census lists the following as members of the household: George Gerner (39), Clara Gerner (33), C.B. Jacquemin (31), the Gerner children: Angie (9), Kate (7), Nettie (4), and Sophia (1) – plus Catherine Emer (20). George Gerner, Jr. was born in 1875.
In 1878, Gerner purchased the home from Jacquemin, who established a branch house of the business in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, and made his home there.
Gerner sold his part of the jewelry business to Jacquemin in 1903. He and Clara remained in the house until 1905, when they moved to Helena, Montana, where Clara died a year later.
George Gerner, Jr. attended Council Bluffs public schools and graduated from Notre Dame University in 1892. He returned to Council Bluffs and became manager of the jewelry store. He married Frances Bowman, and they lived at 171 Glen Ave. – across the street from his former home.
The Gerners retained ownership of 170 Glen Ave. until 1907. C.B. Jacquemin had returned to Council Bluffs and was living with his nephew at 171 Glen Ave. at the time of his death in 1909.
The Italianate house, originally brick, exhibits Italianate stylistic design in the low-pitched hipped roof form, the two-story rounded bay window on the façade, bracketed eaves and wide frieze boards, and the tall, narrow rectangular windows with prominent hoodmolds. The present entry replaced a full-width front porch (visible on the 1928 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map) which was removed in an early 20th century update, and a wood-shake sided hipped dormer was added on the front roof slope.
During the years of the depression, the property was conveyed to an insurance company, with H.G. McGee, a local real estate dealer, acquiring the title in 1940. He may have been responsible for the initial conversion of the house to six apartments because, following his purchase, they were known as the “McGee Apartments”.
An interior remodeling in the 1960s reduced the six apartments to four larger apartments. This remodeling included application of the stucco over the deteriorating bricks, according to the nomination of the Park/Glen Avenues district to the National Register of Historic Places.
(Another possibility, given the differences in the more ornate window hoods on the left side with the simpler design of the hoods on the right, the original porch could have been smaller, extending from the bay window to the north edge of the house. A logical update, when the Queen Anne style with larger porches became popular, would be to replace the front porch).
The two families who shared this still-lovely home, apparently long-time friends as well as business associates, are buried in adjoining lots in St. Joseph Cemetery.