Hormel Historic Home: Keeping that authentic feel

Published 12:01 pm Sunday, September 20, 2015

As I have written before George and Lillian Hormel left their home fully furnished when they donated it to the YWCA in 1927. The items they left were cherished, well cared for and used during the next 60 years of the YWCA’s presence in the home.

A welcoming seat.  Photo provided

A welcoming seat.
Photo provided

Therefore, many items wore out and were replaced with other functional items. When the restoration of the home began in the early 1990s an emphasis was placed on furnishing the rooms with items from the period of time when the Hormels resided here.

Period décor was researched and committee members shopped antique stores and sales. Wall coverings were selected based on what would have been popular in the early 1900s, with many of the patterns based on designs by famous tapestry designer William Morris.

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Many of the furnishings were donated and loaned to the organization by people who had a connection to the facility or to someone who was active here. As I walk through the rooms and notice recognition plaques on benches, clocks and silver platters, I wonder about the donor and the person they are honoring with their donation.

For instance, a grandfather clock hangs in the historic living room that is labeled as a donation in memory of Ted Sandell, made by friends and family in 1990. Mr. Sandell’s wife, Bea, is noted as being involved with the YWCA for 64 years so this memento in honor of her husband has special meaning on our wall.

The white bench that welcomes visitors to the front porch of the HHH was given in memory of Harry Jensen, a longtime employee of the Hormel Company. Harry’s wife, Maye, called the YWCA/HHH her home for many seasons following her husband’s death in 1981 as an annual renter of the apartment above the Carriage House.

A more recent donation on loan is a pottery bowl and plate painted by Lizzie Hormel, sister of George A. Hormel. The dishes originally belonged to Irene Bassler who, along with her husband William, lived at 609 Kenwood (now Fourth Street Northwest). Their home eventually became the home of Ben F. Hormel, George’s youngest brother. Cindy Heimer, granddaughter of Mrs. Bassler, felt the HHH would be a wonderful place to display her grandmother’s possession because of its relevance to the Hormel family history.

Other items have been given in the names of Kiemele, Graves, Haustein and Brabbit to mention a few.

I would love to know the story behind all of these donations so we can honor the ones who have been remembered among the furnishings of the Hormel Historic Home. If you know the history associated with any of the names mentioned above or with any other donation made to the HHH please contact me at holly@hormelhistorichome.org.

 Hearth & Home Series

10 a.m., Tuesday, October 6, free

Buggy Rides and Parlor Visits, A History of Courting presented by Jaimie Timm of the Mower County Historical Society. Tying into the new exhibit at the MCHS, Jaimie will describe the common day rituals and traditions of dating in the early 1900s. This enjoyable topic will surely stir up memories and conversations.