The stately home of Jaclyn and Brian Anderzhon, located at 424 Washington, is one of the most recognizable architectural structures in all of Story City. Having been the home of the Anderzhons for over 12 years, it’s easy to see why the theme they have chosen is “Labor of Love.” This young couple has graciously invited us for a visit this year as part of the Yulefest Tour of Homes.
It was 1890 when John Molstre built this beautiful house on the corner of Washington and Park, and the Molstre family continued to live there until 1910 when front page news announced it had been sold to Soren Anderson for $4,300. Photos of the house from those earlier time periods are amazingly similar to how the house looks today with its squarish turret and distinguished roofline towering in the northeast corner — certainly a credit to those who have lived here for nearly 130 years and all the while preserving its integrity. If only the “walls could talk” we would hear the tales of prominent citizens who made sure that this house, as well as this town, continued to be an exceptional place to live.
According to a Story City Herald news release in 1980, the Molstre house was one of 11 properties (and only three homes) designated to be of “important value” by the Central Iowa Regional Association of Local Governments, in connection with the Iowa Division of Historic Preservation. The study was completed in an effort to help cities preserve historic places and to aid them in planning for the future. Unfortunately, of the 11 structures honored in Story City that year, two had already been removed.
Upon passing through the elegant front door, the entryway is welcoming with its traver-tine tile floor and its original ascending staircase. Turn to the right and you will find Brian’s home office filled with his favorite golf photos and memorabilia. And off to the left, you will find the spacious family room. The Anderzhons have painted the antique paneling a deep, rich chocolate brown. In this room hangs the beautiful gift that was given to the Anderzhons when a young couple drove up from Kansas City, knocked on their door, and presented them with a lovely oil painting of the house. The signature in the corner tells us it was the work of T.C. James, Stanton James’ father. (Stanton and Nettie James are of the lineage former owners.) The gift bearers asked Brian and Jaclyn if they would please leave the painting with the house should they ever decide to move away. Numerous other old photos of the house have been dropped off with the Anderzhons or left anonymously in their mailbox. And to their surprise, even most all of those distinguished iron railings that edged the top of the house have been returned as well. It appears that many folks have taken an interest in the restoration of this old house.
The dining room features very formal corner shelves believed to be original to the house. The dining walls have been painted beautifully with articulated stripes of mint and sage green. Jaclyn said this painting technique was chosen as an effort to hide imperfect walls and it certainly worked! A mix of dining chairs surround their extended oak table, as if waiting for a family Christmas gathering. Just off the dining room is the charming sunroom with its signature tiny panes of glass we can all enjoy from the outside looking in.
Oak cabinets were added to the kitchen by a previous owner, but they were in good condition, so the Anderzhonsadded their personal touches with crown molding, a faux finish backsplash, and a brand new tin ceiling. A bathroom, a parlor, and the boys’ room complete the downstairs’ tour. By the way, the “boys” are named Max and Buster Bean and moved in with Brian and Jaclyn a few years ago as rescue dogs!
The beautiful staircase with original walnut handrail and crisp, white painted steps will lead you to the second story and the lovely private sleeping spaces of 424 Washington. Hardwood floors have been restored, woodwork and doors have fresh coats of white paint, and walls are painted in different hues of taupe and wheat. One guest room features Jaclyn’s collection of hats while the other guest room features some of the Anderzhons’ travel adventures. In fact, Jaclyn and Brian met while both were participating in study abroad programs from Iowa State. Jaclyn laughs as she talks about having to go halfway around the world to meet someone so special from Iowa!
A more recent project for the Anderzhons has been the master suite. Claiming a new space for the master bath was definitely a great challenge where the Anderzhons had to apply some of their most creative skills. From the crystal chandelier to the granite tile floor, and from the claw-footed tub to the white vessel sinks, it is now a vision complete.
We hope that you will join Praeri Rail Trail Questers at the Anderzhons’ home on the corner of Washington and Park on Dec. 2 or 3. This will be your opportunity to see how a young couple of today can live comfortably in an old house and claim it as their own with a lot of labor and a lot of love! See you there!