Mr. Halsted had experience in building construction very early in life, and in less than two years at the Lowell site had the lumber and brick to build his Federal Style home, also called a "Three I," a typical farm house found in the states of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
Concerning the "400,000 bricks" mentioned, some were used to build a school in 1852 (near present Davis Store) and a Baptist Church in 1856 (at the northeast corner of Main and Mill, demolished in 1905). The Halsted House, the school and the church were all about the same size (20' X 30').
The Halsted House foundation, set on clay, is 5 brick wide, the walls three brick thick. Plaster was applied directly to the brick on the inside walls. The interior lumber was full size pine, with many joists and studs still having bark on them. Inside walls were first covered with a unique way of applying a type of lathe for plaster. Wide, thin boards were cut, nailed to the wall and were then split. A portion of this type of lathe can be seen at the museum.
The following is from a report written by the Woolpert Design Group in Jan. 1984: "Considering the age of the structure [built in 1849] the structure would have to be termed a 'true survivor' due to the fact that structural deterioration is actually very minor. The masonry foundation is in surprisingly stable condition.
"A small frame shed has been added to the north fašade [early 1900's or before?]. It is apparent that this shed was not a part of the original construction, and it is currently  in extremely deteriorated condition. It is recommended that the shed be demolished."
A historical marker placed near the front door reads "Halsted House, oldest brick house in Lake County. Home of Melvin Halsted, founder of Lowell, was built in 1849. His pit and kiln were located just across Cedar Creek. Acquired for the community through the combined efforts of interested citizens, area organizations, and the Three Creeks Historical Association, Inc., 1978." The home is on the Indiana State and National Register of Historical Places, owned and maintained by the Three Creeks Historical Assn. which has strived to restore the original beauty and authentic architecture with due respect to the history and traditions of the Halsted Family.
The restoration of the exterior of the old house took over two years, followed by three years of hard work by both professionals and volunteers to preserve and restore the interior rooms, with a goal set to complete the project by 2002, during the Town of Lowell's 150th Birthday celebration . During the Labor Day weekend of 2002 the Three Creeks Historical Association proudly opened the doors for an open house, the old home all decorated with period settings and artifacts.
Upon entering, one of the first things to see is the stairway to the upper level, a feature that was not a part of the original construction, but could have been installed about 1890. Before that time, access to the upper level was on an open outside stairway on the north fašade.
When the home was first acquired by the Historical Association, the original fireplace had been replaced by a more modern type, which was removed. While looking for more authentic masonry to rebuild the fireplace, the worn out front sidewalk was removed and old paving bricks in fine shape were found laying underneath! These bricks were used by a professional bricklayer to rebuild the fireplace, topped with a wooden mantle from the old Sutton Saw Mill of West Creek Township.
The living room is furnished with authentic Victorian furniture, and features many interesting artifacts, including a spinning wheel, bed warmer, pump organ and more. A smaller room to the north is assumed to have been used by Mr. Halsted as his office, where he platted the Town of Lowell, worked on his great interest in local schools and drew plans for the nearby railroad.
A very pretty antique light fixture (Lowell had its first electric service in 1898) hangs over a fine large oak table in the dining room on the west side of the home. Other items to be seen include a very unusual "oil angle lamp," a china cabinet with a display of china from the Halsted and Surprise families, a folding pump organ, and a captain's chair that was owned by the Halsted's .
In the typical kitchen of the area can be seen a cast iron cook stove, a dry sink, a wooden "ice box," and many other kitchen items of the period, including a dutch oven, coffee grinder, and a pan for drying fruit.
Three rooms on the upper level are now displays. At the top of the stairs antique frames hold fine old hand-drawn portraits. Nearby is the "baby's room." The Halsted's baby daughter, Mary Theresa, was 7 months old when the family moved there in 1850. This room is furnished with an antique metal child's bed and other artifacts. Mary Theresa died at the age of 7 in 1857.
The master bedroom is typical for the era, featuring a walnut bed with a feather mattress, covered with a spread from the old Union House Hotel in Lowell. A washstand and chamber pot stand near the bed, and vintage dresses are on display. Other bed room items are also shown.
The west bedroom, used by the two Halsted sons, William (b. 1843) and Theron (b. 1852), is now used to house many interesting artifacts from the south county community, including military uniforms, items from early business places, early photographs, a large pull-down 1906 Lake County map showing land ownership, a school master's desk, and a scale model of the Halsted House as it was in 1849. Displays are changed periodically and new items are quickly cataloged and displayed.
The quaint house, a mansion in its day, sits proudly on the northeast corner of Halsted and Main Streets, surrounded by a white picket fence with a large assortment of flowers and shrubs. The Halsted House Museum is open for tours on the first Saturday of every month (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), for special hours during Downtown events, and for private or group tours. (Call 696-0641 or 696-9234).
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