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Historic House Tour features Van Allen, Montgomery homes

Tickets can be purchased at each house this Sunday

GTNS photo by Grace King

The Frank B. Montgomery House at 403 West Monroe Street in Mt. Pleasant is one of two houses on the Henry County Heritage Trust Historic House Tour on Sunday, April 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. The house was built in 1915.
GTNS photo by Grace King The Frank B. Montgomery House at 403 West Monroe Street in Mt. Pleasant is one of two houses on the Henry County Heritage Trust Historic House Tour on Sunday, April 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. The house was built in 1915.
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The former house of James Van Allen, also known as the father of space science, will be one of two homes on display during the Henry County Heritage Trust Historic House Tour on Sunday, April 14, from 1 to 3 p.m.

The focus of the Historic House Tour will be on architecture and history and how these houses play a role in the history of Henry County. Tickets can be purchased day of at each house. There will historians at each locations giving tours.

Pat White, with Henry County Heritage Trust, said this is the first time the house has been on display to the public since a brief 100th birthday celebration for James Van Allen in 2014.

The Van Allen home was built in 1862 by the patriarch of the Van Allen family — George Clinton Van Allen. He and his wife raised their son A.M. Van Allen in the house. A.M. and his wife Alma Van Allen had four boys who all went on to do “incredible” things, White said.

Most widely known is James Van Allen, who was a space scientist at the University of Iowa.

The house was moved from its original location on West Washington Street to 204 North Van Buren Street in Mt. Pleasant in 2009. It is owned by Henry County Heritage Trust.

Volunteers with Henry County Heritage Trust have spent years restoring and furnishing the home. After it was moved in 2009, White said some walls had to be rebuilt, the house had to be painted and other work needed to be done for it to be safe for the public.

White said the Van Allen home is handicapped accessible.

The house is decorated with original pieces of furniture owned by the Van Allens as well as furniture fitting for the 1920s.

The Frank B. Montgomery House built in 1915 is the second historic home that will be on display during the tour. The Montgomery House is at 403 West Monroe Street, and is owned by Travis and Kim Smith, who do not currently reside in the house.

The house was built by Frank Montgomery, who was born in Trenton in 1863. Frank and his wife Anna lived at the house until 1925 when they moved to Muscatine. At that time, the Monroe Street home was leased and occupied by Anna’s nephew Paul Hulme McCoid and his family.

In 1931, Anna died in Muscatine. Frank later married Mildred Long and in 1934 they returned to Mt. Pleasant and reoccupied the 403 West Monroe Street house. After Frank died, Mildred continued to live in the house with lodgers in the 1940s.

Since then, the Montgomery House has had eight owners throughout the years and is currently on the market.

The two houses are within walking distance of each other, White said.