Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
This home was modest when it was built in 1867
Mt. Pleasant Beautiful
With the cooperation of the Southeast Iowa Union/Mt. Pleasant News, the Mt. Pleasant Historic Preservation Commission will be publishing, every week or two peeks at some of the featured homes in the 1909 book, Mt. Pleasant Beautiful.
In the series, the 1909 picture will be contrasted with one of recent vintage. The Commission has been collecting information for the eventual issuance of a new book updating the information on the still standing homes from the 1909 publication.
You can test your knowledge of historic Mt. Pleasant with this column. The identity of the featured home will be published with the next featured home. The last featured home was the Whitney House, 307 West Warren Street.
This week’s featured home is a large brick structure, originally constructed with somewhat more modest lines about 1867 by Ernestus and Sarah Putman.
Putman was a farmer turned grocer/produce dealer and was responsible for the major changes in the house. It carried a much higher selling price when sold in 1871 to Ernestus’ brother James for $5,500.
Just seeing the cold facts makes one wonder about “the rest of the story.”
James had a $700 mortgage on which he defaulted in 1879 and the property was sold at sheriff’s sale. Why would you give up a house you had purchased for more than $5,000 for an overdue $700 note?
The buyer was Rev. David Tappan. He had been the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church since 1871.
In 1872, the church had built a parsonage. More questions: wasn’t it good enough for Tappan? The answer to that probably lies in the fact that Rev. Tappan and his wife had eight children — they must have outgrown the church’s “manse.”
It might be noted that shortly after Tappan left in 1890, another house was purchased for use by the pastor, so perhaps the original manse did leave something to be desired as a pastor’s home.
Tappan is touted as being quite successful as a pastor. At the conclusion of 19 years’ service, a large party was held for him and one of the speakers indicated a desire for another 19 years but alas he was gone within the year.
During his time in the pulpit membership increased by 342 and an organ was added to the sanctuary among other things.
Tappan returned to his home state of Ohio where he served several churches and even had a short term as president of Miami University, from which he had graduated in 1864, the head of his class.
On Tappan’s departure, the home was purchased by Robert and Sophia Whiting Gillis, both from important Mt. Pleasant families.
The owner at the time of the 1909 Mt. Pleasant Beautiful publication was the now widowed Sarah Gillis.