The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Breaking News

Herrity

September 10, 2013

Women’s Club was once Curtis Family Mansion

The Women’s Club, at 420-5th Avenue So., was built in the early 1880’s for the George Curtis family. It is an ornate Queen Ann Style brick mansion, with beautiful gables and jutting dormers, and has been an eye-catching mainstay for many decades on what used to be called Clinton’s “Avenue of the Elms.”

 

George Curtis was the founder of Curtis Brothers woodworking industry, which flourished in Clinton for exactly one century, (1866 to 1966). He was “the business brains” of the outfit, and he brought his brother Charles and their Uncle George to town to help him, as they possessed the necessary physical skills. Brother Charles eventually would live in another Fifth Avenue mansion, at 417 (now apartments), and their uncle at nearby 402-6th Avenue So.

 

George Curtis was Clinton’s second U.S. Congressman, (1892 to 1896); Judge Aylett Cotton was the first; Bernhardt and William Jacobsen were 3rd and 4th, respectively. His massive congressional chair is still located in the foyer of the home. He desired to have his elegant home built with the finest materials and craftsmanship available. Each room features exquisitely carved woodwork, the lumber for which is said to have come from different forests around the world. The millionaire patriarch, who designed much of the house himself, brought skilled artisans from Europe to do the woodwork. Many family furnishings remain. There is a black teakwood settee in the hallway that was made in Japan. Above it hangs the Curtis family heraldry, complete with ancient armor, sword, lance, javelin, and battle-ax.

 

After the home was completed, Curtis had Josiah Rice, a noted local architect, design a coordinating coach house. Both were sold to the Clinton Women’s Club in 1925, for the nominal price of $25,000. This group endeavors to preserve and maintain the property as best their limited financial resources allow. To provide income at the outset, they made several rooms out of the former ballroom, where carefully screened “maiden ladies” used to live, but that is now rare. Over time, the upper floors have been painstakingly redecorated, many with period pieces, and only recently opened for public viewing. Tours and special events are hoped to eventually replace lost rental income.

Text Only
Herrity
  • Rastrelli's Rastrelli's restaurant a cornerstone in Lyons District Pete Rastrelli (1900-1966) came here to work for Marcucci’s as a candy maker in 1926 after learning the trade at businesses like Curtis Candy Co. in Chicago.In Clinton, he met and married a nursing student named Ida Baldacci. Ida was an orphan from C

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 6-11-14 McEleney photo A closer look at the McEleneys' history Leo and Emmett McEleney started their business in 1914. Now, 100 years of service to the community has been accomplished. They started with Jeffery automobiles, and it was their mechanical prowess (Emmett) and business sense (Leo) which really helped

    June 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • St. Irenaeus Church marks 150 years Lyons was founded in 1835 by Elijah Buell. Just 13 years later, the Catholic parish of St. Irenaeus was organized by Father Cyril Jean, a French priest sent to Lyons by Bishop Matthew Loras who also presided at the first Mass in 1837. The first wood

    May 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Herrity history Picture showcases tower's fall You may have heard that "a picture is worth a thousand words." Well, this picture certainly is. History-lovers can often go on talking about some old photographs for a half-hour or more, and this is a fine example. Let's start with Sunday, July 27,

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-14-14 Longman service Clinton hero laid to rest

    ROCK ISLAND, Ill.-- After 70 years, Lt. Louis L. Longman, of Clinton, finally has been laid to rest with full military honors in the Rock Island Arsenal National Cemetery. First Lt. Chaplin Jacob Grenier, of Muscatine, performed Catholic burial rite

    April 12, 2014 4 Photos

  • Drive-in theatre dominant Clinton's own drive-in theater Spring brings many thoughts, but taking the family out to see a big-screen movie at the Clinton Drive-In Theatre on Iowa 136 and North 16th Street is sadly no longer an option. Large families were thirsting for family activities after World War II.

    April 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • Longmann 70 years in the making: WWII soldier to be honored Imagine three boys, orphaned in the midst of the Great Depression, moving from Minnesota to an adjacent state to live with extended family. How hard it would be to lose both parents and, then, have to move away and take up a new life in a strange tow

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dale Gardner astronaut collage Let's celebrate our successful people There are many famous and successful people who have called Clinton home. We need to celebrate their lives as well as all of their contributions. Recently, former astronaut Dale Gardner, 65, died. He and two other astronauts have connections with Cli

    March 14, 2014 3 Photos

  • Lyons photo for Herrity column HERRITY: Residents have pride in neighborhood

    To this day, thousands of Clintonians say, "I was born and raised in Lyons." Founder Elijah Buell first set foot on the banks of what would become Lyons, Iowa in 1835. He built a cabin, laid out a town, platted the community, raised a family, sold

    December 6, 2013 1 Photo

  • Dem Convention.jpg Famous Clinton Lawyers

    Clinton lawyers in our history are a group of hugely contributing citizens.

    September 27, 2013 1 Photo