Moline Memories - MHS 66 Friends

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Moline woman restores 1901 home

Ball-Rosborough House

Moline woman restores 1901 home:

In the late 1800s, a stretch of Moline's 11th Avenue between 7th and 13th streets was dubbed Millionaire's Row, a reference to the magnificent homes that had been built on the bluff by well-to-do business and civic leaders, most of them associated with the John Deere family.

Several of the homes have been lost through the years, but a majority remain under the stewardship of thoughtful owners.

Among them is the 1901 Ball-Rosborough House, named for John Deere's nephew and the nephew's son, located on the corner of 11th Avenue and 13th Street. [C. R. Rosborough - grandfather of Jane Rosborough, MHS 66]

Current owner Jolene Keeney is no relation to the Deeres, but she is honored to live in the old home and intends to restore the turreted, Queen Anne-style brick home to showplace status.

"They (the builders) showed so much strength, love and commitment when they built these old houses, and it is an honor to carry on the traditions that were started here," she said one recent day while giving a tour of her home.

"It really is a family home. It feels so comfortable when my (grown) family and I sit down to dinner in the dining room," she said. "And the house just seems to sigh a relaxing sigh when my little granddaughter is playing with her toys on the huge front porch."

Keeney bought the property in 2008 when she was looking for a "new challenge." She already had re-done three homes, including properties in the Village of East Davenport as well as in Delmar and Bellevue, Iowa.

She wanted a place with "big trees, brick streets and a front porch." When she drove by the house at 11th and 13th, she said to herself, "there has to be something really, really wrong for me not to buy that house."

She was not disappointed. The house is structurally sound, and the slate roof, brick exterior and curved glass windows are in good shape. Inside, the rooms have never been altered for apartments, and the fine red oak woodwork has never been painted.

Although homeless people broke in during a couple of years when the home was vacant, they did no damage. A striking stained-glass window at the second-floor staircase landing remains intact, as do beveled glass doors and windows, two fireplaces with mirrors in the mantels and four sets of working pocket doors.

Among Keeney's first tasks were "a massive tree-removal project" in which she took down the lot's overgrown weed trees, leaving oaks, hickories and other desirables, and fixing a water main that burst 32 days after she moved in.

Still on the list: continuing to repair the wood porch, making storm windows, refinishing the wood floors, and removing old wallpaper and paint.

Being interested in history, Keeney has had great fun researching the life of the home's various owners, finding boxes of original building receipts in the attic and locating Bobby Jo Irish, a former owner and great-granddaughter of the original owner, who has shared stories and pictures of what the home looked like when she and her ancestors lived there.

The home was designated a Moline Historic Landmark in 1993. Keeney is working to have it listed on the National Register of Historic Places because its first two owners were important people in the history and development of Moline.

A downside, as is the case in many old homes, is the kitchen.

Years ago, kitchens were not the showy gathering place they are today; rather, they were where the help cooked meals, so there was no attempt to make them look attractive.

And this home's kitchen has the disadvantage of being split between the butler's pantry with the sink and another room with the stove and refrigerator. Although Keeney finds the arrangement "kind of awkward," she is going to leave it as is except for redecorating.

Other downstairs rooms include a 32-foot-long parlor, a dining room, a half-bath and a library.
The upstairs contains five bedrooms, a bath and a built-in closet.

And with all that, you might think there'd be no need for the attic, but you'd be wrong. The attic was finished to provide living space for the husband-wife housekeeping team that originally lived in the home.

There also are north-facing - that is, Mississippi River-facing - windows where Keeney often sits to enjoy the view (or fireworks), and a library in the turret with bookshelves curved to fit the room.
Does she ever get discouraged with all the restoration work she has to do?

"Oh no!" she said. "This is what I love. This is my fourth home and I'm not discouraged yet."

'via Blog this'

Historic homes of Moline lists the home here.

Zillow links the home here.