Mumbrue/Penney House

Mumbrue/Penney House
Period: 1800-1899
Exterior Description:

This 3642 sq. ft. home was built in 1873-4 of the Second Empire style also known as a “Mansard” for its dual pitched hipped concave, convex, or “S” shaped roofs. The roof typically is interrupted by dormer windows set in ornate moldings on the steep lower slope. The Mansard style was very popular nationally from the late 1850’s to the mid 1870’2. Other elements include molded cornices along the lower roofline and decorative brackets below the eaves in the Italianate form. The windows; some ranked in, threes, of the Palladian style of the central tower, are encased with elaborate surrounds. The homes original porch maintains its Italianate posts and balustrades. No longer existing today, there were balustrades along the top roofline and second story front porch. This well preserved home maintains most of its original integrity in its ornament, bracketry, and clapboards. The back (west) side of the home has had some additions (very old) but appropriate to style, and a second story (south) porch has also been enclosed on the backside. The Mumbrue-Penney home sits on an imposing hill on Main Street consisting of lots 11, 12, 13, &14 of Judson’s Addition. Originally the front yard was bordered by an ornate iron fence and also had a water fountain in between the double entrances off of Main Street. It was believed to be of two boys dancing. Unfortunately, the fence work and fountain do not exist today. The fencing may have been collected for iron/steel during either World War I or World War II or possibly removed due to age. The fountain was believed to be moved to the backyard of a home on Lake Street and later auctioned off in the early 1970’s with its fate unknown. Second Empire homes are somewhat uncommon compared to the Italianate or Queen Anne styles which were built in greater numbers. The Mumbrue-Penney residence is the only Second Empire home in Waupaca. The multiple original outbuildings and windmill are gone which were located on the back portion of the lot.

Interior Description:

Gaining entry from the front porch, through the original double front doors with etched glass you are greeted by a grand main hall and stairwell lit by a crystal chandelier. An etched ruby glass transom is located above the front entry. This window is original and was a symbol of wealth to visitors. Ruby glass was manufactured with gold. Off of the front main hall to the south and north are parlours, which feature an unusual original (panelled byfold) door assembly that when closed appear as “pocket” doors. Hardware is original. Both rooms have original wide crown molding (painted). The south parlour leads into what is now a study and probably was originally a library. The first bathroom is accesses from the library. It is unknown if this is the original bathroom area. It does feature a six-foot claw foot tub and a suspended marble sink. The north front parlour enters into the dining room which can also be accesses from the back of the main hall and also the kitchen area. Original byfold doors separate the dining room and north parlour. These four rooms and the main hall with the grand open stairway are very intact. They maintain the original twelve-inch mopboard, paneled doors, crown molding, windows/hardware, newel post/banister/spindles and both parlours also retains the original plaster ceiling medallions. The ceiling height in these rooms is eleven feet six inches. Unfortunately the woodwork has all been painted. One of the original byfold doors, stored in the basement, however is unpainted. It appears the woodwork was “grained” to resemble possibly walnut. I am unsure if all of the woodwork is grained or hardwood, due to multiple layers of paint. Light fixtures in these main rooms are electric and probably 100 years old. The original fixtures were most likely kerosene chandeliers, since there was no electricity when the home was built and unless the home had its own gas manufacturing system the City of Waupaca did not provide “gas-works.” The home appears to have been converted to electricity, probably in the 1890’s when electricity became available. It is heated by hot water radiant heat and maintains most likely its original radiators, which are somewhat plain in ornament. The rear of the home is now a kitchen and family room (open concept). There have been multiple changes in these areas and it is difficult to detect its possible original layout. It is believed that the kitchen/den area may have been an addition but most likely an old one, or possibly a south sun porch and back kitchen addition. Externally it appears visually appropriate. The room labeled “back room” may have been a pantry, sewing room, storage, or possibly something else. The home does have an open front stairway and also a rear stairwell. All of the floors appear to be maple and original, except the back kitchen/den area which once again has been remodeled. The ceiling height in these rooms is also lower, between 9 and 10 feet. The grand stairway leads to a landing midway up its ascension, which interestingly has a doorway and two steep steps to the unfinished storage/maids room area. This does appear original to the home and probably was the communication between the family bedrooms and maid/staff. At the top of the stairway is a fairly large hall which connects to the bedrooms. The north/west bedroom has been converted to a large bathroom. This room also has an unusual short doorway which accesses into the “unfinished storage” room. Its original purpose is unknown. It is difficult to speculate on whether there was a bathroom and running water originally for this home. If so, it most likely was water pumped from its own well or cistern. The woodwork on the second story is also painted making it difficult to discern its original finish. Most of the doors and woodwork on the second story are original. Above the bedroom doors are small rectangular transom style windows. The floors are maple and the ceiling height is ten feet four inches. The unfinished third floor attic stairway is accessible from the hall. Interestingly the exposed joists allow one to view first hand, how a Mansard style roof is constructed. The basement is of stone construction and is only a partial basement with crawl spaces. Interestingly the home maintains its original coal fed broiler (not used currently).

Statement of Significance:

The Mumbrue-Penney home was built in 1873-4 by Henry Cook Mumbrue. Mr. Mumbrue was born in Tyre, Seneca County, new York, February 15, 1828; was educated at Felley Seminary , Fulton N.Y. , where he learned the chair and cabinet making trade. He came, with his family, to Wisconsin in 1849 and settled in Winneconne. The Mumbrue’s were some of the first settlers in Waupaca County. William B. Mumbrue was a surveyor of Waupaca County before the Indian Treaty of 1849, his brother Harmond C. Mumbrue of New York and his wife Betsy Barrows of Ohio came to Lind in 1849. They built the first frame house in the area, hauling logs and lumber all the way from Ripon and Berlin by oxen. Henry was related to these people but I’m unsure if he was a child or sibling to them. After settling in Winneconne H.C. engaged in steamboating on Lake Winnebago and then Fox and Wolf rivers. He came to Waupaca in 1855 where he became engaged in various businesses between 1855 and 1893; exploring every thing from farming, to grist mills, lumber mills, livestock buying and selling, and the dry goods, general merchant business. Henry’s name is found mixed in these companies over this 38-year period; Mumbrue and Dayton, Mumbrue, Baldwin and Co., Mumbrue and Rosche, Mumbrue and Oertel, and Mumbrue and Woodnorth which was a dry goods store in the 1870’s. He also held various town offices in Winnebago and Waupaca Counties. In 1876 he was a member of the State Assembly and was elected to the Senate that same year, as a Liberal Republican. In 1884, when J. H. Woodnorth (also Henry’s partner in a dry goods mercantile) was appointed register of the United States land office at Menasha, Mr. Mumbrue was appointed deputy, and served four years. In 1893 he was appointed as Waupaca’s Postmaster serving until his retirement in October 1898, and soon after passed away in April 1898. 404 S. Main Street was sold by the Mumbrue’s in 1878 and went through various owners when it was purchased by Adelbert M. Penney in 1890. A. M. Penney was born in New York in 1851 to Asher and Harriet Penney. He and his family came to Wisconsin in 1855, attended local schools and Ripon College, then returned to Farmington until 1880, when ill health forced him to quit this occupation. At this time, the potato trade was taking off so Mr. Penney came to Waupaca and began a career as a potato dealer. He was one of the most aggressive of the city’s potato traders, establishing warehouses, his own starch factory, and even controlling the production of the crop by acquiring potato farms. His success in the trade as a prominent Waupaca businessman earned him the title of “potato King.” Although he did not single-handedly develop the potato trade, he was responsible for Waupaca being the center of world trade in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Interestingly, A.M. Penney was Waupaca’s Post Master from 1897-1914, succeeding H.C. Mumbrue, whose home (404 S, Main) he purchased in 1890. Penney built the Palace Theater in 1920, and also served as the president of the local electric company. Mr. Penney passed away in 1922, leaving the home to his wife and later to their daughters.

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