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The History

 

Since 1883

Gaye Gardens sits on just under two acres at the edge of Calmar, Iowa.

The main residence was constructed in 1883 and is over 6,500 square feet with 23 rooms, hidden passageways and a strange doomsday bunker under the front driveway.

It is definitely an interesting piece of history...    

 
John S. Roome, M.D.

1883-1911

John S. Roome, M.D. built the home for his second wife, Blanche Cora Bigelow (the best name ever!). John was the surgeon for the local town and railway. Calmar was a major railroad hub at the time of the Milwaukee Road between Marquette and Mason City. The Roomes had a daughter Kathie Blanche and a son John Sydney. John served for two terms as Mayor of Calmar, and for fifteen years as a member of the City Council.  He practiced medicine for over fifty years and was regarded as one of the State’s medical authorities. He retired to Los Angeles, California in 1911. John didn't look terribly happy in his portrait but he had a fabulous beard. 

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1911-1942

J.D. and Josephine Becker were the second owners of the residence, living in the home from 1911 to 1942. J.D. owned the lumberyard in town. 

An F4 tornado hit the town of Calmar shortly after 5 pm on May 9, 1918, causing substantial damage to the area and Gaye Gardens. The original front entry hall of the home was destroyed during the tornado and replaced with the current covered porch. The original red bricks were all replaced by the current green/brown ones. You can still see the original bricks and mortar in the chimneys and basement. The carved marble fireplace in the main living room (a matching one is still alive and well in the parlor) was broken by a fallen tree during the tornado so it was also replaced with the current ugly one. J.D. must have wanted to show what his lumber business could do because he made many updates inside and out in the 1918 style. It was during this time that J.D. added the oak floors with the narrow boards, main floor woodwork in oak, a built-in buffet, the additional maid's room upstairs made into a bathroom with claw-foot tub, and a downstairs bathroom was added which still has the original tub and sink. The roofline was also changed and one of the dormers was removed.   

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1942 - Present

In 1942, the Pavlovec family moved into the home where they lived for over 60 years. The Pavlovec family has been extremely helpful with our research on the history of the house giving us much of the historical information. 

In 2015, the Pavlovec family sold the house to some other random people who apparently had a strange affection for bad wallpaper and collecting garbage. The entire barn was full of boxes, wigs, shoes, old textbooks, and trash. Mostly trash... and (of course) an American Gothic reproduction.

In 2016, the house fell into foreclosure and we purchased it in early 2018. Which brings us to now!