Jeannette Hubert

For Jeanette Hubert, her home is for living in.


She and her husband, Joe, have raised their children there, have spent countless hours working together, and, have an interesting tale to tell.

Their home, a beautiful century-old showpiece thought to have been built in 1912, was originally located on the South Dakota side of the Big Stone River near Hawarden, Iowa.

“It was 1995 when we moved the house in,” Jeanette said. “We had met this guy who lives in Beresford and he said he had just bought an acreage with a house on it that needed to be moved. He asked if we were interested in looking at it. We honestly had not even been really looking. I think it was just an old house that was unique and interesting. It didn’t take us long to make a decision. I fell in love with it. I don’t know if it was just the project or the concept of what we could do. The house itself was in great shape.”

The house had sat empty for a few years and would require substantial updating, but Jeanette said she never thought about the hours of work, just what could be accomplished when done.

“It was a very unique experience moving the house,” she said. “It really didn’t take us very long to get it moved to rural Vermillion. It was probably a seven month process from the day we bought the house and got it all organized.”

She said the biggest challenge was finding someone willing to take on the challenge of creating a basement for the house, with all 20 corners, to sit on.



“We found a guy in Wakonda, Bernie Stephen, who did it for us,” Jeanette said. “He worked backwards by taking measurements of the house, then drawing up blueprints. He told us they don’t make houses like this anymore. I think he said it was all perfect angles. You also had to allow for the windows in the basement so the beams could sit in the window wells so the house could sit on the basement.”


Jeanette said that during the planning phase, she concentrated on the design aspects of the old home, while Joe focused on the infrastructure.

“There were a few things that made us think through the process so we could be happy,” she explained. “For instance, one bathroom upstairs wasn’t going to cut it. The bedrooms were real small so we took out wall and expanded two of them into a master and added a closet. Once we figured those things out, it didn’t take us to long. I think if we had thought about it too long we would have changed our minds.”

One major change was the Hubert’s chose to completely update the heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing of the house.



“I kind of feel like we got the best of both worlds - the old house, but being able to put in the new infrastructure,” Jeanette said. “What we did, was while the house was still over there, we knocked out all the things we couldn’t move, like the old chimney. All of the stuff just piled up in the basement over there and we left it.”


Saying that they completed as much of the demolition before moving the house as they could other changes included opening up the old maid’s quarters to the main house, moving the kitchen from the basement to what was a second dining room, combining two small bedrooms into a master suite, and so much more.

“We decided this house didn’t come with a maid, so we knocked out a door into the room and opened it up to the house,” Jeanette said. “I asked one of my boys what he thought the room was going to go to and he looked at me and said ‘outside.’ I actually turned it into my laundry room, why not have it handy to where all the bedrooms are?”

Moving Day

“It took us two days travel to get here,” Jeanette said. “The movers left the house at the Alcester Steak House the first night and finished the trip next day. There was really only one way to go over the interstate. If there was a bridge or something, they had way to lift the house to get above the railing.”

However the trip was something the family enjoyed watching.

“We would always try to get ahead of the house so we could see it coming down the road,” she said. “As we got closer to home we started to get a bunch of friends and family watching with us. You had to be in the right spot. Coming down the last little bit of the road they asked us if we wanted to ride on the porch, not something they would let us do today.”



The house was moved the second week of August and the Hubert’s moved in on December 3.


“They were just finishing the floors as we moved in the back door,” she said. “We have always pushed things just a little. We lived over there until the day we said we are moving. The basement wasn’t finished yet, so we did that over the next year. “

Over there, is the family’s original farm house, which is now used by the hired man.

“Our farm is right here, we wanted to be close to the farm, but I was getting tired of the mud and flies,” Jeanette said. “On the other side of the trees is the farm. If you look out that window you can see it. But now I can landscape it how I want it and not have to deal with the farm.”

Prior to moving in, Jeanette said the family spent a lot of time patching the lathe and mortar walls, as well as insulating all the walls.

“Twenty years ago, wall paper was in style, so we just wallpapered over it,” she said. “Since then, we have redone all that. I have learned how to skim coat over wallpaper. I can’t imagine how many layers of wallpaper are actually on the walls. But since we knew what was underneath it, I tore anything lose off and skimmed over it. You would never know.”

Jeanette is proud that the family was able to maintain all the original woodwork in the home.

“I did refinish it all the very first year,” she said. “The main floor is Bird’s Eye Maple out of Omaha, the rest of the main floor the walls are Oak and upstairs it is Fir wood work.”



She also noted that she listened to people when they suggested how to refinish updates to the home, such as when they lowered the ceilings to accommodate the new heating system.


“I appreciate what people told me, because I had never done a project like this,” Jeanette said. “Like one guy in town told me to make sure to do a flat ceiling, because that was at the time everyone was doing popcorn ceilings, and smooth was more traditional. I am so thankful for that suggestion. It was important that you saved what you could and stayed true to the home.”

The family was also able to save all buy one of the decorative windows original to the home.

“The windows that have cut glass or beveled are original to the house, but the other windows have been updated over the last few years,” she said. “One thing was damaged during move in day; the cut glass window on the door was broke. We had both doors open and the window caught it and slammed it shut and it shattered. We had a picture of it and found a place in Hinton, Iowa that could replicate the glass.”

Jeanette noted that when the family moved the house, there was a tax incentive from the Historical Preservation Society for maintaining the integrity of the home. The only requirement was the garage had to sit back, which is what the Hubert’s wanted anyway.

As for living in the home, Jeanette said for the most part, the home was completed how she wanted it within the first two years.

“I lived with the wallpaper for 15 years before I started changing things, doing one room at a time,” she said. “I work full-time, so it was my night and weekend project. I didn’t always pick my favorite colors, I like things that are in style, but I wanted things to fit the house, as well. Like my kitchen curtains they were white and not just right, so I tea stained them and now they work.”



She explained that their choices were often influenced by what was already there.


“The kitchen had stamp imprinted bricks that were painted blue and patched up, so our best alternative was to do the wainscoting,” Jeanette said. “We kept the original light switches, even though they are not operational, just because they give character to the house. These carpets (referencing the runner in the hallway and on the main stairs) were in the house, they are an old wool that you just can’t find anymore. The faux leather detail on the wall near the steps was kind of a nightmare, but I worked with several colors finally settling on this to blend with the carpet.”

“Upstairs, the light fixtures are original to the house. The first bedroom was set up this way, and the second bedroom, was pretty much the same. It had a closet, but it didn’t have a door, but we were able to save one from the house we were not using,” she added.

Details like a built in linen closet, originally to the home were also saved.

“The hallway extended further, but there were two little rooms, that we opened up into one large master bedroom and master bathroom. The original bathroom is still here; I have painted it, but it is the original tub, just a new sink and stool, but it was nice sized.”

Jeanette said the next project is to paint the outside of the home.

“This is the original porch to the house. You can see where the steps originally went out, but my husband was able to do the work to match it,” she said. “Old houses do need a lot of work, but these columns are one hundred years old and they are never going to be perfect.”

Looking Back

“I am sure people though we were crazy,” Jeanette said. “I can’t say it was cheap. People ask why we didn’t just build a new house, and honestly, we just never considered it.”

“These people, who owned Felde House originally, it was probably a show home,” she said. “We said those people probably lived in that house for ages and never did the hard living in it that we have done in the last 20 years. But it has been a great home for us.”