A look at the past of others

Published 5:29 pm Saturday, August 24, 2013

By Holly Johnson

Hormel Historic Home

My co-workers, Luke and Amanda, and I took some time last week to do field research.  We went to LaCrosse, Wis., to visit another historic home to see how other old beauties are preserved and supported.

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What a treat that was. At the corner of Seventh and Badger Streets in downtown LaCrosse surrounded by parking lots and government buildings stands the Hixon House.

The home is described this way on their website www.lchsweb.org/hixon-house, “The Hixon House is a beautiful look back in time at an authentic Victorian home. Started in 1859 by lumber baron Gideon Hixon, this Italianate house features beautiful woodwork and lavish interior decoration. His wife, Ellen, decorated the Hixon House in the aesthetic fashion, and it has been preserved much as it was after its last remodeling and redecoration around 1900.

The Hixon House has approximately 90 percent of its original furnishings, making it unusual among historic houses. It is a National Historic Landmark.”

The house was donated to the LaCrosse County Historical Society in 1962 by Alice Green Hixon, a daughter-in-law of Gideon and Ellen.

The elaborately decorated home was so valued by the family that, with the donation, Alice included the stipulation that “if ever the historical society decided to relinquish the house, it must be torn down.”

Walking through the home, I could not help but compare it to the Hormel Historic Home.  Both facilities went through extensive remodeling in the early 1900s.

Both rented rooms to women of the community (the Hixon House served as a women’s dormitory during the late 1940s).  And, both homes have unique features that reflect the owner’s individual tastes.  The dining room in the HHH is adorned with beautiful woodwork influenced by George’s German heritage. The sitting room in the Hixon Home displays Mrs. Hixon’s extensive collection of Oriental treasures.

The only downside to the Hixon House is that it is only open for tours from Memorial Day to Labor Day. It is obvious the people of LaCrosse care enough to see that this wonderful historic site is maintained in the middle of a busy part of the city, but it is expensive to preserve such a site.

I am grateful that the Hormel Historic Home can be open year-round and is supported by so many caring and interested people.  We provide a unique historic opportunity that is not easy to find or to balance.  I recommend a trip to LaCrosse to visit the Hixon House, and I encourage readers who have not visited the HHH in a while to do so and to recognize that we have something special to share with visitors to our area.

 Social Concerns

Tuesday, Sept. 10

Jason Richards from Austin Acupuncture will present on the many benefits of the ancient science of Acupunture.

The program is free, and treats will be provided.  Please register by calling 507-433-4243.

 21st Italian Murder Mystery Dinner

Saturday, Sept. 6 p.m.

Tickets are $30 per person or $200 for a table of 8.

Order online at www.hormelhistorichome.org or by calling the HHH, 507-433-4243.