Thursday, June 20, 2013

Historical Home: Up in Flames

June 6/7, 2013 Fire:  All that is left of a once stately home...
[Photo Credit:  Jamie Rustad Meagher]

All that is left now is a pile of bricks, supplied to the home's original builder by the Pembina Brick Company.  Made from Red River Valley clay, the bricks were a distinctive yellow, part of what made this once stately home so striking and special.

Charles & Isabella Cavileer sold the land the house was built on to James & Barbara Webb in May 1880.  The Webbs built the house, but the date it was completed is unknown.  It became the home to many families down through the years - Judge Edward Conmy & his family among them.

Another early image of the J.G. Webb home
[Photo Credit:  State Historical Society of North Dakota]

The photograph above was taken in the late 1800s. It shows the house's west side, facing Cavileer Street.  Not too far to the east (back) is the tree line and bank down to the Pembina River.

Pembina Cycling Club pose in front of James G. Webb Home, 
This photo shows the house from the north side.  In the mid 1890s, a bicycle craze swept the nation.  Around 1895/96, Pembina formed a cycling club1, whose members pose in this photo in front of the home.  The small building in the right rear of the house is likely a carriage house where a buggy was kept along with the horse that pulled it. A carriage house was the garage of the 19th century for those that could afford such things.

The only references I could find thus far, to James G. Webb - the likely original owner of the home - was one where he was once up for Postmaster in Pembina, but in less than a month, the position was rescinded.2 The Cavileer family continued in that role instead. The other reference was from a few years earlier in the 1880 U.S. Census, which listed him and his family living at the Winchester Hotel as 'boarders' at the time, and his profession as 'Merchant'. They bought the land that same year. By the time the house was built, the Webb family were evidently prosperous enough to not only build their own home, but to build one that made quite a statement.  It continued to be a point of pride in the town, to the day it burned down...

[Images Courtesy of Jamie Rustad Meagher]


1 - Cycling clubs sprang up in valley communities including St. Thomas, Forest River, Jamestown, Fargo, Elbow Lake (where women organized a “Bloomers Cycling Club”), Drayton, Larimore, Minto, Towner, Hillsboro, Pembina, Dickinson, Church’s Ferry, Park River, Grafton, Gilby, Epworth, Neche, Lakota, and Buffalo, North Dakota, as well as Crookston, Moorhead, and East Grand Forks, Minnesota, where members also ordered uniforms. [From The 1890s Bicycling Craze in the Red River Valley, by Dr. Ron Spreng, Minnesota Historical Society Minnesota History Quarterly, Summer 1995]

2 - See
James G. Webb's appointment as U.S. Postmaster @ Pembina,
as well as the rescinding of that appointment a month later...

[Click to enlarge image full size]