THE HISTORIC LARSON HOUSE
The Larson House was an elegant Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1898 and purchased by John Larson in 1911. The Larson family lived in it for 80 years. It stood empty and neglected for the past 20 years. The McFarland Historical Society purchased it in February of 2012 and decided to restore it to its former glory. A restoration plan was approved, the old knob and tube wiring was replaced with a safe electrical system, the badly damaged siding on the back and Bashford Street sides was replaced and painted, and the trim and gables were scraped and painted. A new side porch was built using the original porch columns, spandrels, and balusters. Tree service, landscaping, plumbing work, concrete for the sidewalks and a new furnace were donated by local businesses. Countless volunteers from the community have helped with cleanup and restoration projects. See the long list of volunteers and what they contributed so far. See the video about the progress as of November, 2012.
The Larson House will become a house museum dedicated to the celebration of local history and a valuable resource for our citizens today and in future years. It will be available for school groups and other tours, small social gatherings, concerts, art shows and perhaps even a Victorian garden party or the like. Rooms are being named with donations of $10,000 to honor families with deep roots in McFarland history; their histories as well as the history of the Larson family will be illuminated. The house will be decorated in a style appropriate to around 1920 when electricity first came to McFarland, and the original chandeliers will glow brightly once again.
How can you help?
1. Buy a Board to honor your family, friends, or in memory of loved ones. The donor’s name and those being honored or remembered will be posted inside the house. We want everyone to “own” part of this wonderful old structure. We need to rebuild the front porch and add new siding to the front and south sides of the house. Boards can be purchased online for a cost of only $25 per board until December 31, 2013. Over 250 families and individuals purchased boards in 2012.
2. Donate your time to help restore, renovate, clean and decorate. Let Larson House Planning Chair Jane Licht know of your interest and talents. 838-8178 or firstname.lastname@example.org
HISTORY OF THE LARSON HOUSE
This landmark structure, known as the “Larson House” was owned by Mr. E. N. Edwards for only a couple years and then sold to Tollef Olson Foshein in 1901. Tollef's wife Ingebor died in 1903 and the next year he moved to Stoughton to live with a daughter. He died in 1910. As part of his estate, the house was sold to John Larson in 1911, and it has been in his family ever since, for 100 years.
John was a very successful business man and well-respected in the community. His economic rise began when he bought lake shore property from the Knickerbocker Ice Company in 1900. He built the popular Larson’s Beach Resort, constructed cottages, built piers and even purchased six row boats that were pointed on both ends. People could rent his cottages or purchase them on 60-foot wide lots to use as summer homes.
When John’s wife Julia died young, daughter Bertha came to live in and run the household. After Bertha's sister Tonetta retired she came back to McFarland and lived with Bertha. Some McFarland residents such as Glenn and Meg Nielsen, and Wes and Jane Licht remember Christmas caroling for the elderly sisters who invited them in and served popcorn. Back then, the Victorian home was immaculate and little changed from when their father had owned it.