Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The HasBrouck House

You might wonder about the house on the corner of 12th Avenue South and 14th Street in Nampa. Years ago, the most I knew about it was that a friend was a server in the restaurant. Sadly, I never had the chance to dine there before that eatery closed. Beyond that, I knew nothing.

Around the year 2000, my friend Susan mentioned wanting to own what was called the HasBrouck House someday; I thought she was just daydreaming. How surprised I was to learn one day several months ago, nearly a decade later, that Susan and her husband Ray were now the owners of that historic home. I’d never thought she was serious.

Four-thousand, five-hundred and sixty-seven square feet of memories that began in the early 1900s. The house’s roots, like mine, began in New York. Poughkeepsie, in fact, where Abraham HasBrouck was running a hotel. Abraham was the descendent of a family that was said to have been a ruling presence in the Ville d’Hazebrouck near Flanders, France. The HasBroucks came from French Huguenots on the language border between French and Flemish. (They apparently spoke both.) The name itself is Flemish, and, roughly translated, means hare (as in a long-eared rabbit) by the brook or stream.

Abraham’s son, John Jay HasBrouck, (J.J.) didn’t stick around long enough to take over the family business. Feeling the pull to go West, he landed in Idaho in 1899. Within a short time, the industrious man bought himself the Captain Bernard Homestead, a tract of land south of town that was eighty acres worth of possibilities.

J.J. was a farmer and a dairyman, purported to have had one of the best dairies and the finest Guernsey herds in the state. He became a prominent citizen in the community and was influential when it came to the growth of the area. He began to build a home on that eighty-acre farm, located on what was considered the outskirts of Nampa. What a home it was; at a cost of around $12,000, the Georgian revival-style mansion was called Nampa’s finest, and was the only home in Nampa to have electricity. With its solid oak fireplace mantles and winding staircase in the center of the home that made its way up to the second floor, outdoor terrace off the attic, and full basement sporting twenty-two inch thick laval rock walls, it was quite the place.

Fortunate friends of the HasBrouck family frequented the home for dances and parties. After J.J.’s death, his widow Mattie lived in the house until the late 1940s, then sold the house and farm, relocating to her youngest son Ralph’s home, who also lived in Nampa. The home then was used for many things over the years. It’s been a music store, drug and rehabilitation center, restaurant, antique and gift shop, real estate office, and a salon to name just a few.

The HasBrouck House has had several owners. In 1981, it underwent a remodel and had an addition added to accommodate a restaurant. This construction was done carefully; brick and stone had to be duplicated in such a way that it would not be a glaring add-on. Great pains were taken to imitate the stone so that it would conform with original masonry. Impressions were made, then molds were constructed and filled with concrete for veneers that would be sure to blend with the building. The house’s red brick was matched up by a company out of Denver that researched the history from samples they were given, found twin bricks from a demolished building, then shipped them to Nampa. A whole lot of work went into that 18’ x 53’ addition. In the year 1981, restoration had become fairly personal for those working on the project, with the individual contractors taking a great deal of pride in being able to say they’d worked on the well-known HasBrouck House.

Meanwhile, the HasBrouck family, now large and spread out all over the United States, started the HasBrouck Family Association to keep in touch, and to band together on certain causes. In 1995, their HasBrouck Family Association’s journal displayed a picture of a mystery sign; one that said ‘HasBrouck House’. One of the family members had taken it from a magazine, but did not know the location and was asking for help. It was a huge surprise for the family to trace a HasBrouck house back to Nampa, Idaho; the only two historic HasBrouck Houses that they were aware of were in New Paltz and Newburg in New York state. This one was a significantly long ways away from its sibling structures. Not many knew that there had been a HasBrouck era in Idaho.

In September of 1997, Zola Harrop from Walla, Walla, Washington wrote the HFA, telling them that she knew the builder of the Nampa HasBrouck House; John Jay HasBrouck was her grandfather. She told them that she’d been born in that very house in 1916.

Recently, members of the HasBrouck Family Association, who hadn’t heard anything further about the house since Zola Harrop’s communication in 1997, were very excited to see Susan Montierth’s posting on Facebook regarding the Nampa dwelling. They will continue to compile any articles written or pictures of the newly restored HasBrouck House, and include them in their family newsletter, says association President Robert W. HasBrouck, Jr.

Owners Ray and Susan Montierth are currently updating the old house, which is undergoing yet another interior and exterior facelift, all the while maintaining the integrity of its elegant style and grace, and respecting its roots. Susan says that she thinks Ray and J.J. would have been able to relate to each other, having been both farmers and entrepreneurs.

They plan to have professional offices, a café or restaurant, a salon, and other services such as art and music lessons offered at the HasBrouck location.

I stopped in one day to look around. While some of the rooms were in the process of a remodel, others waited for a curious person like me to inhabit them, if only for a moment. This house was a house that was used to being filled with people, conversation, good food, and culture. I made my way up the winding staircase to the second floor, and found my favorite room. Huge windows on each wall, unusually high ceiling, cheerful yellow paint tones, and one of those famous fireplaces. Something about that room really spoke to me. I found myself wanting to do a twirl on the ornate flooring. Susan approached and entered the room, clearly seeing my bliss.
“This was his daughter’s room,” she told me, “Her name was Edith.”

I just smiled. It was the name of my own mother.

The HasBrouck House has stood in Nampa for 103 years. It is a landmark for anyone who’s ever driven up and down Twelfth Avenue South, one of the key buildings in Nampa history. It’s terrific to see it getting revived once more with music, the arts, and for sure a tasty bite to eat.

The HasBrouck Home, as it has traditionally done for over a hundred years, welcomes you in.

Robert Wilson Hasbrouck:
The Abraham and Jean Hasbrouck Houses on Huguenot Street in New Paltz are owned by the Huguenot Historical Society along with other stone houses on the street, which comprise a National Historic District. The 1814 Josiah Hasbrouck House outside New Paltz was owned by HHS from 1958 to 2010, when it was passed to Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie, with which it previously shared a common ownership. HFA still helps to support it, as well as the Abraham and Jean Houses. Jonathan Hasbrouck's house in Newburgh is NY's first State Historic Site, still operated by the Parks Dept.


Anonymous said...

Hi Amy, Lovely write up about the HasBrouck. I especially like the part where you wanted to do a twirl in Edith's room. I bought some old records the other day and played them in the house and I could'nt help kicking my shoes off and dancing barefoot on the thick tapestry rug. The house is a joyful place that makes you want to dance! Susan

Anonymous said...

I have always loved this house. ALWAYS! I have has such a fascination with it since I had moved to Idaho in 95, which was right around the corner of the Hasbrouck House. I have been in it so many times daydreaming of one day making the house my own home. Susan, you are one lucky lady to own it being so beautiful and rich in history. Such a great read on the house.

Robert W. Hasbrouck said...

Some interesting historical background that I wasn't aware of!

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