It’s 1892. Reportedly, the “American frontier” no longer exists, the so-called Gilded Age is waning, and Queen Victoria’s reign is near its end. The robber barons – American capitalism personified – are asserting power and prestige throughout the U.S. as the Morgans, Rockefellers, and Carnegie’s accumulate wealth and capital. How better to show off their wealth but to build a home with all the trappings – high ceilings, running water, quaint parlors, and even electricity.
There on the edge of the Big Woods in Minnesota, the town of Faribault has already tapped into the abundance of lumber and farmland that keeps its mills turning out a seemingly endless stream of lumber and flour. As in the East, the power and wealth of Faribault has settled with a relatively few influential business men – the town’s “Captains of Industry” as dubbed later by the Faribault Journal in 1903. One man in particular, John Hutchinson, Jr., a Civil War veteran and partner in both the Faribault Furniture Company and the Faribault Roller Mills, has the “strong business sense and untiring industry” to leave his father’s farm near Dundas, MN. Like his peers throughout the U.S., his financial success and acumen provide the means to have a grand Queen Anne Victorian home built for his growing family on the corner of 2nd and Maple, a mere three blocks west of bustling downtown Faribault.
And what a home! Situated on a high lot among many of Faribault’s oldest and most prestigious homes, the three-story octagonal turret is impossible to miss as guests approach. The day’s news or perhaps a little gossip is exchanged between friends and neighbors on the huge wrap-around front porch. Or, in the parlor and living room, with the wood-burning fireplace and ornate trim work, visitors enjoy the Victorian furnishings and displays. Are those the “Captains” in the spacious dining room sipping brandy and debating politics?
The Honorable John Hutchinson Jr. lost his second wife, Eunice, to Bright ’s disease a few years after moving into their Faribault “dream home”. Fortunately, there was plenty of room for Thomas (Eunice’s only surviving child) and Mr. Hutchinson’s two surviving daughters, MayBelle and Luella, from his first marriage with Lucy who passed away in 1876. Even for the well-to-do in Faribault, life was precious and living was difficult. In 1902, at age 62, John married his third wife, Anna, and his sixth child, Henry, was brought into this world.
It is said that all good things must come to an end. In 1915, in declining health, Master Hutchinson, Anna, and their young son moved to California leaving their majestic home behind. Apparently, Faribault was more than a home for the 75 year-old, for he passed away on November 10, 1915.
On the other hand, the life of the fabulous Queen Anne was just beginning. In October 1915, twenty-three short years after its construction, a local doctor and inventor, Dr. Stephen B. Haessly, and his wife, Effie, purchased the home from John Hutchinson. They raised their two boys, Stuart and Burdett, before re-configuring the floor plan of the old Victorian to generate some extra cash in the 30’s and the Depression years.
Doc, as he was known around town, was a partner with Doctors Trager and Hanson in a medical clinic on the north end of Central Avenue in downtown Faribault. It is reported that the trio broke up the partnership in 1917 to go “over there” and fight in World War I. After the “boys” finished the job in Europe, Drs. Haessly, Trager, and Hanson picked up where they left off and returned to their medical practice as partners. Sadly, Doc Haessly passed away in 1942 and did not live to see his son, Burt, serve in the military as an aide to Presidents Truman and Eisenhower. Effie, however, remained in that big old Queen Anne (with a couple of renters) until 1969. If you do the math, she lived in the big ‘ole Victorian for fifty-four years before selling to Winston and Rosemary Johnson.
The Johnsons clearly appreciated the treasure they had acquired. Throughout the 1970’s, they painstakingly scrutinized every aspect of the main floor restoration. Working off old photos, the mantel in the living room and fretwork in the doorways were recreated to their original Victorian styling. It is said that Winn and Rosemary were true Faribault socialites and enjoyed hosting glorious parties in the Old Lady.
Marilyn Coughlin, just the fourth owner, was the first to share the trappings of the “Doll House” (as some locals refer to it) as a Bed & Breakfast. In 1987, Marilyn and her daughter, Christine, greeted their first guests and the Inn stayed open for about three years before the Malone family obtained the house as a single-family home. In 1999, Steven Usdansky and Janet Smith, the sixth owners, acquired the house and gave it the Painted Lady look (Periwinkle blue with pink trim) as it is seen today.
The Victorians, of course, were not especially known for their practicality but this “Queen” is an exception. Upstairs, guests relax in five spacious guestrooms – one room even has its own sitting porch from which “bustling” Faribault can be observed below. Master Hutchinson could never imagine that his pride n’ joy would eventually boast eight bathrooms and a TV in every guestroom. Changing with the times, the whole house even has wireless internet for those “techies” that can’t quite let go.
Tami and Doug invite you to stop by and enjoy this treasure of Faribault – the Historic Hutchinson House B&B. There’s more history to be told and many memories to be created.
January 1 Ellis Island opened as a reception center for new immigrants
March 12 The “Challenge Cup” was conceived by Lord Stanley
May 22 Dr. Washington W. Sheffield invented the toothpaste tube
June 7 Republican convention began in Minneapolis MN
August 4 Sunday school teacher, Lizzie Borden, was arrested in MA
September 26 John Philip Sousa’s band made its first public appearance
October 12 Pledge of Allegiance was first recited in public schools
October 21 World’s Columbian Expo (Chicago World’s Fair) dedicated
November 8 Grover Cleveland elected 24th President of the United States
December 15 Business mogul J. Paul Getty was born in Minneapolis, MN
December 18 Peter Tchaikovsky’s ballet, “Nutcracker Suite” premiered in St. Petersberg, Russia
Historic Hutchinson House
305 Second Street NW
Faribault, MN 55021