TURN OF THE CENTURY (Real Estate): Harms house typical of 1900 prosperity

The design of early Hillsboro was relatively simple and easy since there were no natural features like rivers or hills to obstruct construction.

The town expanded in area and population during its first 30 years (1879-1909) for four basic reasons: moderate climate, railroad transportation, rich topsoil and the energy of its inhabitants.

Unlike some other towns, Hillsboro did not receive large infusions of outside capital from wealthy individuals or corporations.

Hillsboro?s ?home grown? expansion resulted from the acumen, industriousness and ?good luck? of some the common people who moved to the community, determined to make something of it.

Their assiduous and conservative nature was reflected in the homes they built. Leading families, on their way to success, built homes that were large and substantial, but not overtly extravagant.

One such home was built soon after the turn of the 20th century. Located at 301 S. Washington, the structure was built by Jacob V. Harms on the southwest corner of Washington and East B streets, two blocks south of the Suderman and Harms Department Store, where Harms was the senior partner.

Ten years after the original structure was completed, Harms began to remodel and enlarge it. It?s design and interior became more complicated in the process. The front porch which runs along the east side of the home was remodeled in 1919 and extend to the south to create a cover for Harms?s new K-R-I-T automobile.

The Harmses sold the house to Tabor College in 1945. The college used it as a dormitory until selling it to Henry D. Ens in the early 1960s. Since 1977, it has been owned by Richard and JoAnn Wall, who have done considerable rehabilitation work on the structure.

Adapted from Hillsboro: City on the Prairie by Raymond F. Wiebe.

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