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Davis Journal

Historic home has been in the family since 1890

Aug 05, 2021 09:24AM ● By Jackie Kartchner
FARMINGTON—When Marilyn Christensen’s great grandparents, Charles and Gertrude Staynor Miller, built their home in 1890 they had no idea it would be in their family for generations to come.

“They settled on the land in 1848,” said Christensen, who lives in the home now with her husband Steve. “They had an adobe house in the back, and they built the front two-thirds of the barn in 1848. Then in 1890, that is when Charles and Gertrude Miller built this home.” 

It has been in the family ever since. The Christensens bought the home at 351 N. Main Street from the Miller family 37 years ago, so they could live in Farmington.

“It is a miracle that it is still standing,” she said. “Of course, before we bought it, we had it checked to see how structurally sound it was. They said it had settled very little. It was just really built structurally well.”

They have replaced the electrical wiring, the plumbing, the roof, heating and AC. They have also added two bathrooms.

“One interesting fact,” said Christensen, “is that it was being built about the same time as the Salt Lake Temple, and so they would pay attention to what was being done there.” 

Heating ducts were installed, even before there was heating. “He had them built into the house, which was a really smart idea,” she said. “All of the walls are brick, so it would have been extremely difficult to try and put a heating system into the house.” 

The house just had parlor stoves for a number of years, then radiant heat. A tenant who leased the house sold one of the parlor stoves to the Heidelberg restaurant. When the Heidelberg went out, Christensens went to an auction, bought it back 30 years ago and brought it back to the house. 

“The boys’ bedroom didn’t have any heat in it, no parlor stove,” Christensen said. “The theory was that if you heated it, we were told, you raised weak boys, so their room was not heated at all.” It didn’t have heat for more than 100 years.

All the interior walls are brick. “We hear the brick came from Kaysville from the brickyards there,” she said. “Most of the floor boards are logs.” 

The barn is hand hewed without any nails or bolts to hold it together. It is held together with wooden dowels.

“We found Marilyn’s great grandfather’s leather account book where he kept track of what it cost to build the house,” said Steve. “The total cost for labor and materials was $700.” 

The home was a ranch house for the family who used to own Fremont Island. “They had a dairy here,” he said. “And they had a lot of land in West Farmington.”

“They didn’t build closets because closets were taxed as a separate room,” said Steve. “So, it was a wildly inefficient home.” 

The house had been used for parties, receptions, and weddings before they bought it, Marilyn said. “The kids thought it was haunted because it was always dark.”