235 Laverne


May, 2007

235 Laverne Avenue in 1907.  >  click to enlarge

235 Laverne Avenue in 1907. > click to enlarge

The large brown shingle house in the foreground of this 1907 photo was built in 1904 for Alfred Worley and his wife Fannie. In 1909, they subdivided the adjacent property into 68 home sites in the Ferndale/Melrose area. Fannie was the first woman to settle in the Homestead community and the first woman to die there in 1920 at age 54. Alfred moved away.

Many years later, in June 1940, Ove Johnson bought the three-story mansion for the bargain price of $7700, reportedly because it was “haunted”. Two months later it was completely destroyed by fire. He replaced it with a small stucco house using the same foundation. He founded the Homestead Valley Volunteer Fire Brigade soon thereafter.

Ove was a board member of the Homestead Valley Sanitary District in 1948 when Homestead finally installed a sewerage system which had been proposed in the 1920s. During World War II Ove tried to have his family be as self-sufficient as possible by raising vegetables and fruit crops on the fertile soil of his property. His wife did a great deal of canning and otherwise preserving the produce. Their daughter Sonja kept a horse on the property from 1948 to 1959.

In the spring of 1984, after Ove had become a widower and Sonja had moved to Michigan with her husband, an electrical fire caused extensive smoke damage to the house. Ove died 8 months later, just shy of his 82nd birthday.

In 2000, the house was demolished and replaced with an architecturally modern 4000 sq. ft. house constructed primarily of fire resistant steel. The site had had two entirely different houses: brown shingle in 1907 and stucco in 1940.

If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.