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The Miller Homestead

  Located in Norwalk, WarrenCo, IA, this home was built by my greatgrandfather, Abram Timmerman Miller, circa 1870. This building still stands today, although through the years much of its magnificent detail has been lost through misguided remodeling and neglect. The City of Norwalk recently purchased this property with the hope that a purchaser could be found willing to move it. The open farm land around it had been purchased by a developer with the intent of building a commercial/industrial park. If not purchased and moved, this historically significant home would be razed.  



  Update as of January 4, 1999! A young couple, Jon and Melanie Hanke, have purchased this beautiful home and will be moving it 1/2 mile from its current location. I wish I could be there to watch this very complex and emotional operation.  


  Update as of June 15, 1999! The move has taken place!
  Excerpts from The Record-Herald and Indianola Tribune, June 2, 1999, by Geoff S Fein:

Melanie Hanke, 30, found her dream home; a 100-year-old two-story house sitting high atop a hill at 414 Hwy 28 in Norwalk.

Norwalk took ownership of the home in August 1998 and put it out to bid.

When the home went on the auction block, her husband, Jon, bid and eventually bought the house.

Now the only problem remaining for the Hanke's was how to get the home, home.

The house was sitting atop a piece of land in the middle of Norfolk's planned 80-acre industrial park. If no one bid on the 126-year-old home, it may have to be destroyed.

This 126-year-old house proved to be more than a wide load. At 85 tons for both house and truck, it was a heavy load, too.

On Thursday morning, Fifer House Moving of Mount Ayr slowly hauled the house from its Highway 28 address to its new resting spot on Main Street. It took 30 minutes to get within five houses of the lot. Then everything came to a halt.

The house was too wide for the street so crews from Mid American energy had to turn off the power to the neighborhood. Power lines were moved, poles turned and traffic halted. Like a lumbering brontosaurus, the truck and house slowly made their way down Main St.

Fifer said it was one of the biggest homes his company had ever moved.

"It's the tallest one for sure," he said. "It's got 11 foot ceilings on both floors and a monster attic."

Jerrie Kleymann was one of those who came out to watch the house moved to its new foundation. Her family had lived in the house for more than 50 years. The Kleymanns were the third family to occupy the house since it was built on June 6, 1875.

(Note from Nel: This home was built before 1875. I am in possession of a photo of Abram T Miller and his family sitting on the front porch of this home. The youngest child, bn February 1875, my grandmother Grace Miller, has not been born yet. Based on the guestimated ages of the children in the picture, the home was completely finished c1872. As further proof that this home was built before 1875, Abram T Miller died May 1875.)


The Memories
  Dear Nel,

I want to contribute my recollections of the farmhouse at Norwalk. Clara Anne Miller Holtry took me and my brother Bill to visit her sister Mae at Norwalk in 1928 when I was twelve years old and my brother was ten.  My father William Melville Holtry, Aunt Grace, and cousins Merrill and Benny were there also.  We toured the house and had dinner there.  Benny and Merrill were making Bill and me laugh, and my dad nudged me to quit laughing. 

Bill and I were fascinated by the chandelier which my aunt would lower from the ceiling in order to add more coal oil to the lamp, which made a nice, soft light.

I remember the sitting room with its delicate chairs with red velvet seats, where they entertained company; the living room with its pump organ was comfortably furnished. Bill and I took turns pumping the organ, holding on to the keyboard to keep from falling over backward off the bench.

On the occasions where we stayed overnight we stayed in one of the five or six bedrooms. My dad's cousin Lillian took Bill and me to the two-story barn and showed us where to find eggs on cross beams along the sides. 

No chickens were in the house.

We went there several times when Lillian would pick us up to come see Aunt Mae and Uncle Ed. It was always a real treat when we got to go out there because it was such a beautiful home--the mansion on the hill.

Your cousin,
Erma Holtry Cox


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Last updated February 11, 2001