One of Osage’s most historic residences will be opened for a tour in May, part of a fundraiser for the United Church of Christ.
The Keith and Adriane McKinley home on North Seventh Street will be featured on the tour, to be held from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, May 5. Donations will be accepted at the end of the tour.
Construction of the home began in 1871 by Edwin Hitchcock, and purchased and completed by Cyrus Foreman, in 1874. Foreman – like Keith – was an attorney. He was a lumber dealer, clerk of court, mayor, and was appointed by the governor to a five-person commission to oversee the building of the Capitol building in Des Moines. In an odd twist, Keith’s great uncle, S.J. McKinley, served with Foreman on an early Board of Supervisors.
Foreman died in 1887; his two surviving daughters, Elizabeth and Grace, lived in the home their entire adult lives.
Little is known about who designed the 15-room brick Italianate-era home and carriage house. High, arched doors and woodwork, fashioned in walnut and butternut, grace the high-ceilinged rooms. Oak and walnut flooring still shines today. A fan-shaped stained-glass window adds beauty to the stairwell and the front walnut doors host Italian laminated glass, accented in red. In the living room, a highlight is a wood-paneled bay area where the craftsmanship of its designer shines. An elevator, built by a group of men from the First Baptist Church and headed by Pastor John Kern, was installed in the 1930s.
The McKinley’s purchased the home in 1971 and the renovation began in 1972. The project to bring the home back to its original charm took over three years – and lots of elbow grease. For years divided into two apartments, the home was in a dilapidated state.
Still, Keith said “I was always intrigued by older homes,” despite the work. He recalled stories about the Foreman sisters, who were often seen around town in their electric car. Local history says shopkeepers would bring their wares to the sisters as they sat in their car and made their choices.
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Renovation was major work, completed by local contractors and the McKinley’s. Adriane recalls thinking the project would take a few months.
“I was young and naïve,” she said with a chuckle.
Support beams between the first and second floors were replaced; new wiring, heating and plumbing was installed. The home was re-roofed. The interior wood was dark with aged varnish; Keith recounted it took Adriane six weeks to strip just the front stairway. All told, they used 57 gallons of the stain remover before they were done.
In order to install a shower/tub combination upstairs, a floor had to be removed and re-installed. They learned to paint and apply wallpaper. Keith fractured both his wrist and elbow when falling off a ladder while painting. The only modification made by the McKinley’s was the installation of a swimming pool, attached to the west side of the home.
The tour, while a fundraiser, is also a way for the McKinley’s to share their love of the home with their neighbors.
As Keith wrote in an account about the home, they have had a “love affair (that) has spanned more than 40 years and is as intense now as it was the day we first set foot in it.”