Did you realize the big red brick house on the Borreson farm was built in 1912, 99 years ago? How many of our memories are connected with this house in some way! How many more for Odell and Nan’s family who also lived there many years! Other family members are much more qualified to write about this special place, but here goes.
In the heading for this blog, you’ll see a fuzzy view of the house from the thirties, when it was 20-plus years ago. I thank cousin Ann (Gertrude) for sending me several current photos of the house, taken in 2009 when she was back for a Borreson Cousins reunion. Here’s one of them; you’ll notice changes from the 1930s photo. I’ll add another photo further on in this post.
According to Aunt Clare in Homestead , the family was in need of a large house. By 1912, the children numbered six – and in 1913, the year after the house was completed, twins were born to Emil and Gina. Didn’t that accent the need for larger quarters?! The house is described as an “eight room, red brick” (16) with “full basement, attic and a parlor finished in oak” (35). I seem to remember it as having high ceilings, perhaps nine-foot.
“Gina hauled the red bricks from A. J. Webb’s Lumber Yard in Whitehall by wagon and the team of horses. She made many trips” (16). I can imagine that farming consumed the labor of the rest of the family, but I do wonder if Emil did some of the labor himself. Clara writes elsewhere of his woodworking and cement work. But Gina’s work wasn’t done when the bricks were unloaded.
“A new home with many windows needed to have curtains and she started to crochet lace curtains with insertions and edgings in white and ecru with material to match the lace. She made all the curtains, crocheting by kerosene light late into the evening. Every room had a beautiful curtain” (16).
I wish I remembered more details about the house. To a youngster like me, it always felt spacious – and I recall the dark or medium-dark stained woodwork. But I don’t recall much of the floor plan. In David’s recent letter, he describes sleeping in a room upstairs across from the bathroom. Were there four bedrooms upstairs like many houses of this type? Was there a bathroom downstairs too? I wonder how many changes or remodelings that house may have received in the Borreson years.
How about lighting, for example? Clara writes that Union Carbide Gas Lights were used on the farm for a couple years: for both barn and house? And then a Delco Electric System was purchased with its own generator (35). In 1938 Wisconsin Power Cooperative came with electric power for farmers in the area (38). I expect these changes were reflected in the red brick house too.
I remember open porches where enclosed rooms now form part of the 2009 exterior. In the early years after the house was built, I could imagine those porches filled with rockers and old chairs used well by a family on Sundays or evenings after a long day of work.