A testament to Iowa’s rural roots, the Hulme House in Henry County has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hulme House was built in 1862 and owned by Samuel and Sarah Hulme in Jefferson Township, a few miles northwest of Mount Pleasant in Henry County. The couple became prominent in the community for their family ties, role in agriculture and Samuel’s involvement with the Henry County Institute of Science.
"We're pleased the Hulme House has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and we commend all the stakeholders who worked so hard on this successful nomination," State Historian Laura Sadowsky said. "This recognition marks an important milestone for Henry County as it continues to preserve the legacy of its past for future generations of Iowans."
Sarah Hulme, née Howard, was a daughter of one of the earliest settlers of Jefferson Township who was widely respected and carried status in the community. Her marriage to Samuel Hulme in 1862 solidified his prominence in the community.
While the newlyweds started their lives together with a small plot of land, they quickly acquired more from surrounding neighbors, eventually owning approximately 160 acres in the early 1900s. This land let Samuel Hulme explore a variety of agricultural interests. Livestock and poultry let him produce butter, wool and eggs, and he farmed corn, oats, wheat, sorghum, potatoes and apples. He also cut cords of wood from the 39 acres of woodland on his property.
Besides his dedication to farming, Hulme also had a unique interest in educational endeavors and became an active member in the Henry County Institute of Science, which was formed in Trenton in 1870 “for the purpose of promoting literary tastes and desires,” according to the nomination form.
The institute soon became the center of social and cultural life in Trenton, and membership dues and fundraisers were used to buy new books, book cases and small statues of famous people.
Hulme became involved with the institute during its early years and soon became one of its managers. In this role, he helped to plan monthly membership meetings, organized free lectures for the public and granted power to rent the hall to other organizations. In 1896, he was elected president of the institute and held the position for a decade.
As part of his wide variety of interests, Hulme was also active in Henry County politics. He was a member of the May 1896 nominating committee during the Democratic county convention and part of the “Sound Money Democrats” that advocated for their position in Des Moines in August 1896, according to the nomination form.
While he was actively involved in Jefferson Township and Trenton, Samuel maintained a loving relationship with Sarah. The couple had seven children together and hosted two of their children’s weddings in the family home. After Sarah’s death in 1910 and Samuel’s retirement from farming in 1913, their grandson, Max Hulme, moved into his grandparents' home with his wife and lived for the next 60 years before passing it on to their son.
Still in use today, the Hulme House sits on a fraction of the land that Samuel and Sarah once owned, accompanied by two outbuildings and a metal garage toward the back. A mere one-and-a-half stories, the brick house faces the road with a small, covered porch leading to the front door and a window on each side of it.
The house contains some elements of the Late Georgian Revival style but is largely vernacular in design, representing simplicity and practicality, much like other houses of the time. That’s all the Hulme’s needed as they carried out their quiet but successful lives in Jefferson Township.
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.