The old cliche that “the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree” is certainly true for Lloyd Menard, the owner of the Wickham House at 616 S. Seventh St.
The Queen Anne-style home built in 1882 is one of five historic homes and Holy Family Church that will be on display from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 8 as part of Preserve Council Bluffs’ Historic Homes for the Holidays tour.
Other homes on the tour, which costs $15 per person include: the Bebbington House, 200 Park Ave., owned by Sharon Babbitt; the Bregant House, 517 S. Fourth St., owned by Preserve Council Bluffs; the Cutler House, 524 Clark St., owned by Kyle McGinn; the Hazelton House, 408 Oakland Ave., owned by Craig and Sue Griffis; and Holy Family Church, 2217 Ave. B. Tickets for the tour will be available at the homes on the day of the event.
Those purchasing tickets for the tour should ask for a coupon offering half-price admission to the Historic Dodge House on Dec 8 to those taking part in the Historic Homes for the Holidays tour.
Born and raised in Omaha, Menard, who purchased the Wickham House nearly a decade ago, attended both the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an art major. He taught art at a Dubuque high school for a number of years before attending the University of Illinois where he earned a graduate degree in art.
Menard then moved to Vermillion, South Dakota, where he initiated the program and taught print making for 35 years prior to retiring about 15 years ago.
A long-time collector of Victorian furnishings he remained in Beresford, South Dakota, for eight years before deciding to return to the Omaha area to be closer to his family. Although he considered purchase of a number of properties, he purchased the Wickham property nearly a decade ago and began an extensive remodeling project — the results of which will be on display during the home tour.
Furnished almost entirely with Victorian-era antiques and collectibles, nearly every room in the home was decorated for the Christmas season by designer Carol Markham, owner of Carol’s Christmas Designs. Almost every room features a specially designed and decorated Christmas tree.
Mary Lou McGinn, author of “The History We Live In,” commented that no singel family contributed more to the building of Council Bluffs than the family of Patrick and Cecelia Wickham. From commercial buildings to houses to streets to roads and railroads, all were built with bricks manufactured at their brickyards on North Eighth Street, now Sternhill Park.
The couple had 10 children, six of whom survived to adulthood. Two sons, James and Owen, and daughter Mary’s husband, Martin Hughes, produced bricks, at one time producing as many as 35,000 bricks daily.
Owen Wickham built the house at 616 S. Seventh St., in 1882. Other Wickham family homes are still standing in Council Bluffs, many of which are on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as local landmarks.
The remaining homes on this year’s tour include:
Bregant House, 517 Fourth St.
Jean Bregant was 46 inches tall, Inez Lewis was 42 inches. Both were perfectly proportioned. They met while performing in a vaudeville show at Coney Island, New York, and were married in Council Bluffs on Christmas Eve in 1905.
After their marriage, they continued to perform, eventually returning to Council Bluffs where Inez’s parents operated a grocery store.
On a visit to the Woodward Candy Co., they were hired by John Woodward to be the company spokespersons. Their images were seen on the company products and they toured a 20-state territory.
After retirement, they returned to Council Bluffs and were active members of the community. Their 1912 Craftsman Bungalow was built to accommodate their average-sized friends, with a dining room hutch, bathroom fixtures and kitchen appliances scaled to fit the stature of Jean and Inez. In 2012, the house was purchased and restored by Preserve Council Bluffs. It is designated a local landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cutler House, 524 Clark Ave.
Located in the Willow/Bluff/Third Street Historic District is the home built by Dr. William A. Cutler in 1914. At age 15, he came to Council Bluffs from La Porte, Indiana, with his parents, Lewis and Carrie Cutler, and his three brothers. In 1901, Lewis and his son, L. Henry, established Cutler Funeral Home.
His son, William A. Cutler, Jr., was born in this house on March 5, 1924, and purchased it from his parents before his father died in 1951. He continued to live here until his death in 2010.
The house styles include Queen Anne and Craftsman features. The house has wood shingles with a hip roof and cross-gabled ells and a porte-cochere with a sleeping porch on the second floor. On the interior, the house remains the same with the exception of a new kitchen and bathroom. The open front porch has been enclosed. The windows have been replaced in the same style as the original windows.
Bebbington House, 200 Park Ave.
George Bebbington, a lumber dealer and real estate investor, owned several parcels of adjacent land in the area. He and his wife, Luzerba, had three children. Only Clara, born in 1866, lived to adulthood. The Bebbington family lived next door at 164 Park Ave.
In 1889, Clara married Ernest Hart, a real estate dealer and banker. They had three children and lived in the house until 1905, when the family moved to a larger house at 525 Third Street.
George Bebbington died in 1890. In 1897, Luzerba joined two smaller parcels of land next door to build this house at 200 Park Avenue.
This Front-Gabled Cottage, with Classical and Queen Anne influences, has a two-story rounded bay window with lattice trim above it. The lattice trim was continued on the front of the house at the roof line. On the north side is a one-story three-sided bay with a stained glass window. The fish scale trim is not original. The Queen Anne pediment over the front porch and the transom window above the door are original. The original porch posts and spindles are gone and have been replaced — the posts with salvaged 1870s Victorian posts.
In 1912, Clara Hart had the Bebbington properties platted and named the area “Bebbington Place.”
Hazelton House, 408 Oakland Ave.
This impressive Queen Anne house was built c.1902 for Emma and Arthur Hazelton. Before coming to Council Bluffs in 1884, Hazelton studied at Boston University and Columbia Law School. He was admitted to the bar in 1886 and became a partner in the firm of Mayne & Hazelton. He served as city solicitor for six years, state senator for four years, and was appointed postmaster in the early 1900s. Emma was a member of social and literary clubs, the local chapter of the D.A.R., and an active member of the Women’s Auxiliary during WWI 1914-1918.
The Queen Anne features of the two-story house include the hipped roof, cross-gabled ells, dormers, three types of decorative shingles on the second floor and gabled ends, woodwork details and rounded bay windows on both sides (Nomination of the Lincoln/Fairview District to the National Register of Historic Places). The original porch, since replaced, wrapped around the front and south sides.
Holy Family Catholic Church, 23rd Street & Avenue B
In the late 18th Century, two Catholic parishes located in the downtown area — St. Peter’s and St. Francis Xavier — served the growing population of Council Bluffs. St. Francis Xavier parish encompassed the entire western part of the city.
The decision was made to divide St. Francis parish, which had become too large, and create a new parish to serve the west end. The Rev. John O’Neill was appointed to oversee the project and became its first pastor. The three Council Bluffs parishes joined together to hold fundraising events, including a four-day festival, to support the new parish.
Construction by Wickham Bros. began in the fall of 1908 at the corner of 23rd Street and Avenue B and was completed in 1909. The formal dedication was held on October 17, 1909. Built of red pressed brick with stone and terra cotta trim in the Tudor-Gothic architectural style, its notable features include — among many — a 98-foot tower, a massive vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows. (Daily Nonpareil archives, April-October 1909).