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American System-Built Home, history, Our Story

Happy Anniversary to the Delbert Meier House


Delbert Meier

On this date exactly 97 years ago, November 10, 1917, the Meier family moved into their newly constructed American System-Built House. At the time, Delbert Meier was a 37-year-old attorney; his wife, Grace, was 38. Daughter Esther was 12, and her younger sister Martha was 8. What an exciting day that must have been for that young family, moving into their beautiful architectural wonder of a house! As you can see in thew local newspaper clipping above, the Meiers’ move-in date was big news.

The Meier family would go on to occupy the house until the mid-1960’s. Martha and Grace grew up and moved out in the late 1920’s but Delbert and Grace stayed on. Delbert passed away (probably IN the house) in 1959, coincidentally the same year that Frank Lloyd Wright passed on. Grace remained in residence until her death in 1964.

Delbert Meier and Grace Meier, Monona, Iowa | This American House

We stopped by the cemetery yesterday to pay our respects to Mr. and Mrs. Meier and to thank them for building this grand house. We feel like we’ve adopted the family as much as the house.

The Mister and I are coming up on our one year anniversary of living in the house. We haven’t gotten very far in the projects we have planned for the house but we have enjoyed every single second we’ve spent here. Thanks again, Delbert and Grace Meier, for building this gorgeous home.

Images: This American House

history, Our Story

A Search of the Attic Turns Up … Absolutely Nothing


The Attic at This American House

You know those stories about the homeowner who cleans out his attic or cuts into a wall and finds hidden treasure? It’s usually a priceless painting or a box full of old stocks and bonds or some such. Well, this is not one of those stories. Dammit.


Back when I was a kid, Geraldo Rivera famously explored Al Capone’s secret vault. There was a television special devoted to Rivera’s exploration and the hype leading up to it was insane. I don’t remember how long the program was – an hour, maybe two – but I do remember that in the end the vault turned out to be empty. Well, slap a big, ugly mustache on me and call me Geraldo because the same thing happened in our search of the house’s attic.


To gain access to the attic, there’s a wooden ladder stowed away in the upstairs linen closet. The ladder hooks onto the wall trim and, once you climb up, you can remove the grille to get into the attic. In the original plans for the house, this is referred to as a “vent with grille.” This has us wondering whether the grille used to be open to allow for airflow in the summer/winter. In its current that, the grill is one solid piece and, as you can see in the photo above, removing it sends a flurry of insulation and other dust raining down on the floor. In other words, have the vacuum cleaner ready to go once you remove the grille!


The good news is that the attic is free of bats and raccoon and other wildlife. The bad news is that it’s always free of priceless artworks and chests full of diamonds and pearls. What we did find up there is a lot of insulation and a creepy rope.


We didn’t actually boost ourselves up into the attic and walk around. From what I’ve heard, one wrong step in an attic can send a foot through a ceiling. Not wanting to damage anything (and maybe because we’re both terrified by spiders and their sticky, icky webs), we shined a flashlight into the space and looked around from the safety of the top rung of the ladder. Although the attic may be lacking secret treasures, it’s still really cool to peek into it. To think that the lumber that forms the roof of the house is nearly 100 years old is pretty incredible. it’s also good to discover that there’s plenty of insulation at the top of this big, old house.

Still, our fingers are crossed that that pot of gold will be unearthed somewhere in the house!

Images: This American House

history, Our Story, small town life

Pioneer Cemetery: Rossville, Iowa


Pioneer Cemetery: Rossville, Iowa | This American House

One of the many things The Mister and I have in common is an appreciation for cemeteries. He spent his teen years exploring old cemeteries along the plains of North Dakota and I spent mine discovering forgotten burial grounds on the back roads of rural Ohio. Mind you, we weren’t goth kids and there was nothing macabre about our appreciation of cemeteries. The Mister was interested in the history of the crumbling tombstones and I was just happy to escape to someplace that offered solitude and silence.

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American System-Built Home, history, Our Story, small town life

Meeting the People Who Used to Call Our House Home


The Delbert Meier House circa the 1920's | This American House

We’ve always been romantics, The Mister and I. We’re the kind of guys who’ve always rented vintage apartments with charm instead of modern homes with convenience. Dating back to our very first apartment, we’ve chosen character over comfort. Our first time cohabitating was in a two bedroom mid-century building not far from Wrigley Field. The Mister had left it up to me to choose our first apartment. He was working weekends a lot back then and, well, I was the more opinionated of the two of us when it came to housing. Or at least I thought I was.

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city boys, Our Story, small town life

Bask in the Glow of Supermoon 2014


Supermoon 2014 at This American House

If there are clear skies where you are this evening, look up at the supermoon. What’s that? you ask. A supermoon? Did someone put a cape on the moon? No, silly, a supermoon is just another term for the Perigee moon, meaning the moon is bigger and brighter than it has been in the past 20 years. And it’s all happening tonight!

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