Warkentin House Events

"We, the House" Reading
7 p.m. Friday, April 22, 2022

Newton Public Library and the Warkentin House Museum present the first public reading of "We, the House," a new historical novel set in Newton. Please join authors Warren Ashworth and Susan Kander for this event. Admission is free; donations to the museum will be gratefully accepted. Attendees are asked to wear masks. The reading will also be streamed live on the Newton Public Library Facebook page.

"We, the House" begins in 1878 the frontier town of Newton, where a battered Civil War Union veteran builds his new wife her dream house, an Italianate glory she names Ambleside. Soon, an early American portrait of Mrs. Simon Peale arrives from Hartford, Connecticut, to dignify the dining room wall. When the portrait’s existential yelp causes house and painting to discover each other, Ambleside is a perfect ‘tabula rasa,’ almost literally born yesterday. Mrs. Peale is a devastated young widow, a starchy professor of Latin, who has been dead since 1841. Together, through the lives and generations of ‘their’ family, this disarming odd couple witnesses and tries to comprehend the panorama of American social history–from women’s suffrage, three wars, the ice box, photography, and the invention of the two-by-four, to indoor plumbing and electrification, the Dust Bowl, the Depression, and Dachau, foxglove, the Love That Dare Not Speak its Name, the song of the catbird, and Little Women. Over the decades, a most unusual love develops between them and quietly deepens, until one day in 2010 an art historian from New York happens to see the portrait of Mrs. Peale and, abruptly, everything changes.

How the West Was Framed: 19th Century Home Construction in Newton and America
4 p.m. Saturday, April 23, 2022

Join Newton Public Library and the Warkentin House Museum at the Warkentin House, 211 E 1st Street, for a lecture by architectural historian Warren Ashworth. Admission is free. Donations to the Warkentin House Museum will be gratefully accepted. The event will also be streamed live on the Newton Public Library Facebook page.

Ashworth will share some background on balloon framing, what we now call "framing," or "stick framing": that is, building a structure with 2x4s or 2x6s on 16" centers. This unsung invention was born in 1833 in Chicago and contributed immensely to the swift pace of westward expansion in this country, even though, 40 years after its genesis, it was still frowned on in the eastern states.

Ashworth will reflect on some historic homes in Newton, including the Warkentin House and Ambleside, and how they could never have been built without the more flexible method of framing.

Mother's Day Tea
3 p.m. Saturday, May 7, 2022

Join Warkentin House for a special Mother's Day event! $15/person, tea and light finger foods provided, 25 spots available until filled.

If interested, contact Marcia Zuercher at warkentinmuseum@gmail.com