349 South First Street

Home of Michelle and Glenn Marquette.
By Ruth Ann Montgomery - 1998

This year's Evansville House tour will feature some of the finest Victorian architecture in the community.  The
house at 349 South First Street, owned by Michelle and Glenn Marquette has been renovated inside and out
during the last ten years.  

Elpha A. Gillies and her husband, James, purchased the lot at the northwest corner of First and Highland for
$300 in October 1884.  This was a typical price for a lot in that section of the city.

The foundation for the house was started in the early winter of 1884.  "Mr. Gillies has his cellar wall nearly
completed.  Mr. Thomas Baker & Sons are the masons," the Evansville Enterprise newspaper noted.  

The following March, Gillies had a barn built on the property.  It was the earliest building projected started in
Evansville in 1885, according to the Evansville Enterprise. Their neighbor, Benjamin S. Hoxie was the architect
builder.  Hoxie's home was across the street at 409 South First Street and will also be on the tour.

Several of the workmen on the new house were listed in the local newspapers as the work progressed.  
Theodore F. Shurrum did the plastering of the interior walls.  It took more than a month to complete the painting
of the house.  M. E. Hanover and assistant started painting the house in July and were still at work in late
August.  When the house was completed, the Enterprise listed its building price as $2,700.  

James Gillies was born near Cooksville in 1848 and married Elpha Pond in 1875.  Unfortunately, she was not well
and in 1895, the Gillies’ decided to sell the house to Charles J. Pearsall and his wife, Hattie.  The sale was
completed in January 1895 for $2,400.  

The Gillies' continued to hold a mortgage on the house for $1,000.  James and his wife moved to Boulder,
Colorado to try and relieve Elpha's suffering, but she died two years later.  

Charles J. Pearsall, the new owner of the home, was manager of the D. E. Wood Butter Company in Evansville.  
C. J. and his wife, Harriet, had four children, Robert, Clifford, Barbara and Phillip.  

Charles had grown up in Flycreek, Otsego county, New York where his father was a farmer.  The family moved to
Illinois in 1876 and Charles' father started a creamery business.  At the age of sixteen, C. J. began working in his
father's factory and for the rest of his life was in the butter making business.  C. J. Pearsall's uncle, D. E. Wood,
was also in the butter making business and he gave Charles a job in his factory.

Harriet, more often called Hattie, and Charles were married in Huntley, Illinois on November 9, 1887.  Their
honeymoon trip was to Fairfield, Nebraska, where C. J. had a job managing four butter factories in the Clay
County area.

In 1890, Charles came to Evansville as a partner with his uncle, D. E. Wood, and manager of the new creamery
that Wood had opened.  Charles also managed creameries in Albany, Magnolia, Cooksville, Story, Gratiot, Town
Line and Shullsburg for the D. E. Wood Butter Company.

Area dairy farmers were well acquainted with Charles Pearsall and his fast team of high-stepping horses.  
Charles traveled from town to town to deliver payrolls to the creameries and visit with farmers who brought milk to
the factories.  His buggies were always the latest style with high pneumatic tires and he also kept high narrow
cutters to travel through the winter snow.

A popular Sunday pastime for Pearsall and his friends and fellow horse-lovers, George Pullen and Joe Shiveley,
was to race their horses down Church Street.  The race began at the west end of Church Street, near the
Seminary, and ended at the Baker Manufacturing plant near the railroad tracks. Then they reversed their course
and raced from the tracks back to the beginning, past the houses and churches.

In February 1898, the Pearsall's traded their house on First Street to Emma J. Ahara, and took in exchange the
house at 227 West Church.   Emma Biglow had married to Edwin Ahara in 1897.  He was superintendent of the
experimental department of the Deering Harvester Co.  After the wedding ceremony the young couple moved to
Ravenswood, Illinois.

The Ahara's probably used the house as a rental property, as it was announced that Mrs. Axtell, who had been a
tenant of Ahara's at the house on Church Street, would occupy the Pearsall residence.  After owning the house
for five years, in February 1902, Emma Ahara sold the house to Mary Shaw.  

In 1905, Mary Shaw sold the house to Lavinia Stewart who died in 1910 in Brodhead.  Her heirs sold the house
to Ida Smith for $3,100.

Ida Smith continued as owner of the house until September 1933.  The house went to one of her heirs, L. A.
Smith, who continued to own the house until 1941.

In 1941, the L. A. Smith estate sold the house to William L. Bone and his wife, Jennie.  The Bone's operated the
Leota School, a private girls’ school at 443 South First Street.  They used the house purchased from Smith as a
dormitory for some of the girls who attended the school.  

The present owners believe that several additions and changes were made to the home during the time the
Bone's used it as a dormitory.  The present kitchen area may have been added at that time, and some
remodeling to the bathrooms was probably also necessary to accommodate the girls’ living quarters.

In 1952, Jennie Bone sold the house to Archie F. Beighley and wife Ruth.  They mortgaged the house for $3,500
and borrowed the money from Mae Phillips and her sister and brother-in-law, Wilva and Wilton Vaughn.

The Beighley's owned the house for four years, selling to Albert A. Asmus and his wife, Dolores.  The Asmus'
immediately sold the house to Orville and Clara Devlin.  The Devlin's also took out a mortgage with Mae Phillips
and the Vaughns.  The Devlin's owned a number of rental properties in Evansville and Orville was a real estate
agent.

Joseph and Dorothy May purchased the house from the Devlins in September 1957.  In 1971, the house was
sold to Rita J. Seiler.  Rita sold it to Beverly Haas in 1976.  Haas sold it in 1979 to Sandra Schuh and Jeanette
Davis, two real estate agents.  Schuh and Davis used it as a rental property..  In 1984, the house was owned by
Sandra and her husband, Robert Schuh.

Glenn Marquette purchased the property in April 1988.  For the last ten years, Glenn Marquette has been
restoring the house.  When he moved into the house, it had wood paneling on the walls, and a drop ceiling.  
Although the house had many major changes, Glenn stripped the interior down to the basic frame and recreated
the original splendor of this Victorian house.  

A talented woodworker, Marquette has reproduced woodwork throughout the house using a planer and shaper.  
Glenn prefers to work with oak in creating the new woodwork.   All of the floors on the first story have been
rebuilt.  Narrow oak boards were laid for floors in the main rooms of the house and ceramic tile in bathroom and
utility rooms.

Walls and stairways have been changed.  In the entry, a wall into the ladies' parlor will hold a pocket door that is
still under construction.  There will be another pocket door going into the gentlemen's smoking room.  The walls
are covered with paper and borders from England.  They are embossed and have been painted in rich dark
colors.

A men's parlor adjacent to the ladies' parlor has an antique fireplace.  Many homes built in this era had a
smoking room with a fireplace for gentlemen to gather after a meal where they could discuss business and
politics.

Glenn, who operates Marquette Construction, specializes in restorations.  He added a tower to the house that
closely resembles many of the residential pattern book towers of the 19th century.  On the first story and second
story of the tower area are bathrooms.  On the third story, it is an office area and on the fourth story is an attic
with a skylight at the top of the tower.

A conservatory with fireplace has been added to the northwest corner of the house.  It has wonderful natural
light through windows on three sides of the room.  Again, the owners have used rich dark colors on the walls.  
The woodwork in this room is painted white.  

A gourmet cook's dream kitchen has been created by the Marquettes.  Built in ovens, cupboards, and wine rack,
and ample counter space make this an ideal setting for preparing meals.  Custom designed tiles have been used
throughout the kitchen and a row of windows above the cabinets gives additional natural light in the room.  The
roof above the kitchen is a mansard style, typical of a roof style used in two other houses designed by Benjamin
Hoxie in Evansville.

Through the kitchen windows the new garage with a mansard roof can been seen on the west side of the yard.  
A decorative fence encloses the area offering privacy as well as a beautiful background for the landscaping.

There is a large utility room with laundry facilities, sinks and built in cupboards for storage and several porches
on the first story of the house.

The second story is also being restored.  Glenn has duplicated the design of the original woodwork to replace
missing pieces.  

Throughout the house, windows were replaced, the roof was rebuilt and exterior doors have been replaced.  The
new entry doors with leaded glass windows are a beautiful addition to this 19th century house.

Michelle and Glenn have been married just one year.  Glenn has been  collecting antiques for 15 years and the
home is filled with  many interesting pieces.  Of special interest is a beautiful English table from the early 1800s.  
It is very ornate, with a lion’s head at each corner, carved legs, and a leather top.