The residents of Mauston lost a little piece of history this week.
An old red-brick house, located at the corner of County Road G and Highway 82 near Mauston High School, was demolished on Wednesday and Thursday, taking with it nearly 150 years of memories.
The home, owned by Bob Bala and Paulette Jochumsen, was built sometime after the Civil War. The house, once the homestead of the Allaby Farm, survived a cyclone that ripped through Mauston in October of 1913. Ultimately, it could not survive Father Time. On Wednesday, a crew from Hamm Bros. Excavating started the process of tearing down the 150-year-old structure.
Jochumsen said most of the material from the old house will either be recycled or donated to the Juneau County Historical Society. Dan Jurkowski has already taken materials from the house for a special project he’s working on at the historical society.
“I thought the process of tearing it down would be pretty quick, but it’s not,” Jochumsen said. “It’s going to be picked and carefully separated, piled and then hauled. Some of the materials will go all the way to Appleton.”
Jochumsen and Bala plan to build a new home on the property, built by Andy Crowley & Sons. Of course the new home will also be red, paying tribute to the old brick house. While Jochumsen is looking forward to a new home with modern amenities, she will miss the old home and its charm.
“It’s been a good house and a good place to live in, but it’s been a hard house to keep. There’s a price tag to live in a house like that,” Jochumsen said.
Bala, who operated the Harley-Davidson dealership in Mauston from 1972-2010, has lived there since 1982, while Jochumsen has called it home since 1992. Bala persuaded Jochumsen, a Tampa, Florida native, to brave the long, cold winters of Wisconsin in a house that was more than a century old.
“We burn wood, primarily. We just put in a gas furnace around 2000, but by then the habits of burning wood were so established that he never turned on the heater,” Jochumsen said, laughing. “(Bob) likes getting wood and stacking wood, but he’s 70 now and physically he’s not going to sustain that type of lifestyle and I’m only a few years younger than him. Maintaining a house that’s that old is tough.”
Jochumsen has heard from several longtime Mauston residents who have expressed sadness that the old house, a staple in the community for generations, will no longer be standing. But, Bala and Jochumsen believe they’re giving the home a proper sendoff.
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“Keeping a house going at that age is hard and expensive,” Jochumsen said. “Everything has a lifespan and that house has reached its lifespan.”
When the house was built in the 1860s, Jochumsen believes the same architect was used to design several other federal style houses in the Mauston area.
“Just up Highway G, about one mile from us, you will see the exact same design,” Jochumsen said.
While the structure will be lost to history, Jochumsen is pleased to see some materials go to the historical society.
“I know Dan and he’s a fabulous man with great ideas and he does make things happen,” Jochumsen said.
Juneau County Historical Society President Rose Clark isn’t sure what year the house was built, but is fairly certain the property was purchased by the Allaby family around 1900. In a 1914 county plat book, the Allaby farm consumed about 420 acres.
In 1913, a fierce cyclone, similar to a tornado, tore through parts of Juneau County, damaging a portion of the Allaby home, along with several others.
“There was also a bad cyclone that went through in 1908, but the 1913 cyclone was worse in Mauston,” Clark said.
After the Allabys owned the home, several other families lived there, including the Franks and the Lewandowskis.
After living in a nearly 150-year-old house, it will take some time for Bala and Jochumsen to get acclimated to their new home, but they will certainly have many fond memories of the old brick house.
“It’s just saying goodbye to an old lady,” Jochumsen said. “It’s a loss of something that’s always been here and people have always seen it.”