Hatch House Restoration
"Captain" Jeremiah Hatch joined the Mormon Church and moved from Vermont to Nauvoo, Illinois in 1843. He was already about 80 years old, so his home was built for him by his son Hezekiah and other members of the family. When the Mormons left Nauvoo in 1846, they moved initially near Omaha, Nebraska and then on to Salt Lake City the following summer. Jeremiah and his wife were too old to undertake the journey, and they both died in the settlements near Omaha.
Hezekiah passed away while they were still in Nauvoo, but his 3 sons, Jeremiah, Abram and Lorenzo Hill all moved to Utah and were important figures in the Mormon settlement of Utah and southern Idaho. Jeremiah Hatch (Captain Jeremiah's grandson) is the great-grandfather of Senator Orrin Hatch.
The Daughters of the American Revolution placed a plaque on the home in the 1980's, and it is still reputed to be the only home in Illinois known to have belonged to a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Capt. J's father, Nathaniel died from small pox near Fort Ticonderoga at the start of the war, but Jeremiah was then too young to join. When he turned 15, he signed up, and was active for the last 15-18 months of the war. He was reportedly too small to carry a musket, so he was a piper in the drum and bugle corps. After the war, he was commissioned to be the veteran agent in his village, and given the honorary title of Captain, hence that title for the rest of his life.
Many descendants of Jeremiah have observed the home over the years, but one 5th great-grandson finally contacted the owner in 1998 and negotiated a purchase. A family foundation was immediately formed, and funds were raised to close the deal in January, 1999. The house was very near collapse at the time, and a contract was let quickly to jack the entire house up and put a new steel beam and trusses under the building. The original trusses were unpeeled ash logs that had either completely disintegrated, or one could poke a finger completely through them. Quite literally, the only thing holding the house up was the tongue and groove flooring on the first floor.
The next major project was to repair the mortar on the exterior of the house. The mortar was originally made by adding limestone to boiling water, and the limestone would "explode" and create a slurry that was used as mortar. Over time, water tended to erode the limestone mixture, and so we had to have all the damaged mortar removed, and fresh grout put back in, a procedure known as "tuck-pointing."
After these major projects were done, we continued to do smaller things to make the house "habitable," but the on-going care and continued improvement of the property seemed daunting.
Then in 2004, a group from Arizona contacted us to ask if we would sell them the home. When we said no, they explained they were building a hotel on the same block and wanted to use the 3 historical homes on that block as family rentals. After several months of negotiations, we agreed to lease the home for 50 years. They agreed to restore the house to its original condition and add a structure on the back to house additional bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, etc.
After we signed the lease, their plans changed to build the hotel across the street to the southeast of our block. They instead are building 6 "replica" homes next to the 3 historical ones, and will construct a pavilion and park in the middle of them all that will be known as Kimball Park. The hotel and park can be followed on their Web site www.hyrumkimballinn.com.
An interesting dilemma arose when they removed the later walls and stairs in the home. They had supposed to discover where the original stairs were built, but could not determine their location. It became academic when the city informed them they wouldn't meet code anyway, so they couldn't try to reproduce them. Even if the original stairs were still there, they would have to be roped off and not used. Consequently, the access to the second floor will be from the new addition to the rear.
Any questions about our project can be directed to David Steele, president of the Jeremiah Hatch House Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org