When Bob and Jennie Tichota of Blair were looking for a larger home to move their family to in the 1970s, they found one on a large lot at 17th and Colfax streets.
They had three growing daughters and they liked the house’s large bedrooms and other large rooms. They were able to take out a wall and create a 20-foot-long living room. The kitchen is also 20 feet long and they were able to make a pantry in a hallway that went off from the kitchen.
The Tichotas planted a garden and parked their camping trailer on their 90-foot lot.
The home’s interesting gingerbread on its gables appealed to Jennie, too.
The house’s history has been even more interesting for Jennie, who likes genealogy. She eventually learned a lumberman in Blair built the home in 1890 for Rev. G.W. Wainwright, a doctor of divinity. He was a minister for a few years at the Congregational Church near his home.
“I found out he was a chaplain in the Illinois regiment in the Civil War,” Jennie said. “I think he was born in England.”
Wainwright died in 1896 and he and his wife, Alta, are buried in the Blair Cemetery. Jennie said the chaplain’s grave features a Civil War marker.
If you look closely enough on a block of cement, which is a step in front of the house, you can see the Wainwright name carved in stone, Bob said.
Friends have given them a drawing of the original house. The drawing shows two chimneys, which were quite ornate, and the gingerbread on the front gables and over the porch, Jennie said.
Over the years, one of the chimneys was removed. The gingerbread over the porch was damaged in a storm years ago and not able to be easily replicated, Jennie said. The shape of the posts out front were changed as well when they were replaced.
The property didn’t have a carriage house, but instead, a schoolhouse to the south behind the house. Jennie said they think the schoolhouse was built and then eventually used as a garage.
“A Model T would fit in it,” Bob said. The Tichotas took out part of an inside wall so they could fit their car in it.
The schoolhouse had water access and Jennie thinks laundry was done in the anteroom.
She said a main-floor bedroom in the house was rented out to a boarder many years ago.
The Tichotas no longer garden. But they have fond memories of their daughters getting married from the house: Brenda Jenny and Deborah Nelson, both of Blair, and Marian Porter of Minnesota.
Their daughters still think of their rooms in the house as their bedrooms, Jennie said.