Hinkly House renovations complete
LUVERNE -- More than a decade after volunteers with the Rock County Historical Society began restoring the Hinkly House Museum to the Queen Anne stylings of the late 1800s, the finishing touches are finally completed.
With paintbrush in hand on a recent afternoon, Diane Jauert was busily adding a second coat of paint to a cabinet in the kitchen -- the final room to get a makeover.
"Every room in the house will be done now," said Jauert, who was instrumental in renovating each of the 12 rooms in the home. "I'm very happy with it. It's a beautiful home."
The Hinkly House became a museum in 1959, and has greeted thousands of summertime visitors in the years since. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Built by Ray Benjamin (R.B.) Hinkly, a Luverne banker, the home was completed in 1892. At the time, it was considered the "most handsome house" in all of southern Minnesota.
The home is built of local Sioux Quartzite, with a pair of stone lions on either side of the steps ascending to the front porch.
A stained glass window above the double front doors features the Hinkly name, while an ornate, oak parquet floor in the entryway spells out a welcome to all who enter.
All of the original woodwork inside remains today, and is the focal point in many of the rooms.
"You didn't even really notice the woodwork before," said Jauert. "The wallpaper has really enhanced (the home)."
In the kitchen, where renovations were completed earlier this month, the society had to install a new floor because the original was in such bad condition. Still, the diagonal placing of the floor boards were replicated, according to Betty Mann, president of the Rock County Historical Society. The floor boards were found in a restoration business in Iowa.
Work initially began in Elizabeth Hinkly's upstairs bedroom. She was the daughter of Stanton Hinkly and granddaughter to R.B., and donated money to the historical society to make the improvements. In addition to repairing the plaster walls, the room was painted.
"In Elizabeth's room, we stenciled," said Jauert. "(The pattern) was taken from a wallpaper (pattern) that had been in the room."
After the work was done, Elizabeth donated a quilt that matches the design of the stencil. The room, just like all of them in the Hinkly House, is filled with period furniture.
While most of the pieces were left in the home by the Hinkly family, Jauert said some were donated by people within the community.
Most of the rooms in the upstairs of the home required repairs to the plaster walls, said Jauert, adding that the upstairs bedrooms were painted to help save money. Nearly every room on the main level is wallpapered, with the work done by Jauert and fellow historical society volunteer Carol Ceynowa.
Jauert did much of the research on wallpapers to find designs that matched closely with the original wallpaper, or fit in with the period and theme of the home.
"She's our main gal to do all this," said Mann. "We rely heavily on her expertise. She's put in hours of research."
While Jauert was able to closely match some of the wallpaper designs in the home, others may have been a bit more elaborate than what now covers the walls. Such is the case in the dining room, where a mural was uncovered as work was being done to reveal the original wall covering.
Jauert said lights were found in the attic during the renovation process, and historical society members cleaned them up and made necessary repairs before once again putting them on display in the home. Other attic finds included lacy window coverings and linens.
Several pieces of artwork featured in the rooms were made by members of the Hinkly family, including some acrylics and wood burning pictures.
R.B. Hinkly was considered a visionary in the home's construction. It was built with wiring, although electricity wasn't yet available, and also featured indoor plumbing with water stored in a large tank in the attic for indoor toilets, bathing and general usage.
Hinkly's home was the first to have a telephone in Luverne, and he had lines that ran between his home, the bank and his farm at the Blue Mounds. Others were allowed to hook into the lines, which ultimately led to the Luverne Enterprise Telephone Co., later sold to Northwestern Bell.
Hinkly worked in the banking business until 1909, when he left to continue quarrying at the Blue Mounds. He later farmed, raised cattle and sheep and built and managed the Luverne Brick and Tile Co. He also invented and patented improvements on a rotary engine.
The Hinkly House Museum, located at 217 N. Freeman Ave., is open from 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from June through August. Prior to its summer opening, Mann said they have some final finishing touches, including adding a security system, installing new outside lighting and completing a new sidewalk in the front of the home.