The historic home of Arthur Wright

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, August 13, 2011

Last week I shared the story of Arthur W. Wright, one of Austin’s prominent citizens of the early 1900s. Wright’s former residence, which is across the street to the west of the Hormel Historic Home, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1988, the National Park Service and the Minnesota Historic Preservation Office published a booklet about the sites in Mower County on the National Register and it provided information for this article.

The property at 300 4th Ave. (then Water Street) was transferred from Dr. John Wheat and his wife, Julia Cook Wheat, to her brother, John F. Cook in 1868. (Julia and John were the children of John Cook, who built what is now the Hormel Historic Home in 1871.)

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The house was built sometime between 1868 and 1874. During those same years, the property was owned by the Wheats, the Cooks, W. L. and Mary Austin and Converse Chase. At the HHH, our tour guides have passed down the story that John Cook built the house for his daughter but no records were found to prove who owned the home at the time it was built.

Arthur Wright owned the home from about 1885 to his death in 1927. His son, Winfield Wright, sold it to Herald Williams in the early 1930s. Currently, the Shaffer family owns the home.

The National Register booklet describes the architecture of the house: “This house is Mower County’s earliest and most intact example of the Italianate style… The house has typically low-pitched roofs, narrow gables, large paired scroll saw brackets at the eaves, both rounded and arched, very narrow and tall windows, heavily corniced window and door moldings, and shallow rectangular bays, all representative of the Italianate style.

The detailing of the house is unusual. Clapboard facing is 3’’ wide with cornerboards. The arched windows have wooden keystones with 2-over-2 lights. The house has a heavily molded cornice and a dentilled course above the wide wooden frieze composed of four flush boards. Paired brackets at the eaves are worked with a scroll saw.

The shallow bays on the east side of the house have flat roofs, paired with windows with rounded corners, wooden rosettes, dentil under the window sills, and panelled bases.”

Monday: Board of Directors at 8:30 a.m.

Tuesday: Board of Trustees at the Town Center Building Conference Room (basement) at 4 p.m.

Coming Soon

Laura Helle, Executive Director of the HHH, will appear at the Mower County Historical Society’s Lunchbox History series on Thursday, Aug. 25 at 12 p.m. She will present “How Cy Thomson Embezzled $1.19 Million from George A. Hormel & Co.” The presentation is free and open the public, a service of the Mower County Historical Society to the community. No registration is required.

Guests should park by the Ag Building, where the presentation will take place and are encouraged to bring their own lunch if they wish. A new book about the Cy Thomson scandal has been written by LeRoy author Eileen Evans. Copies of “Cy Thomson—The Generous Embezzler” will be available for $19.95.