Allen home changes hands after 121-year history
Owner's large collection of antiquesauctioned
The last Saturday in November, a piece of Cassville's history, and piece of a family's heart, changed hands, when what is known to locals as the Allen House at 507 East St. and its contents were auctioned and sold.
The three-story, Victorian home that sits near the Barry County Sheriff's Department was originally built by attorney and banker Thomas M. Allen in 1895, and in its 121-year history, has only had two other owners -- Dr. Samuel Wilson Chandler and his relatives, and its most recent owner, Georgia Pryor Writer, who purchased the home in 1973.
Writer, who was a local nurse, businesswoman, humanitarian and collector of rare antiques, owned the home until her death in 2004 at the age of 91. Her son, Gene Writer, maintained the home thereafter.
"She was a collector of everything," said Linda Mitchell, Writer's daughter.
"Anything historical, she was a part of," said daughter Yvonne Stumpff. "She and my daughter Tricia were instrumental in getting the historical Bayless House. She and my mother were both early members of the Barry County Historical and Genealogical Society."
The 18-room home was filled with numerous impressive antiques, many of which remained in the family, many were sold, and some were original to the house, belonging to Allen. Some things will forever stay with the house.
"Dr. Chandler autographed the wall going up to the attic in 1923," Stumpff said. "Of course, all of our grandkids have signed it, too. They played up there all the time. Mother had it set up as a play house for the kids."
"A lot of were family pieces passed down to our mother," Mitchell said. "And a lot she acquired. She loved auctions, and she and her brother had an antique store in Monett and had an eye for antiques. She became the caretaker of the family heirlooms because she loved them. And she also acquired pieces that belonged to other families in Barry County. It's been said by several people that she probably had the largest glassware collection and antique furniture in this area."
"She loved showing people the treasures in the house," Stumpff said. "And the kids were just amazed. It was like going to a museum. But to us it didn't feel like that because we had grown up with all the things in her house, but to other people, it did."
"A lot of her collecting had to do with growing up during the depression," Mitchell said. "She cherished all of her possessions because she had very little. I think that's what made her such a collector was because of the way she had to live during that time. She didn't call it hoarding, she called it collecting, and she always displayed it. It wasn't just stacked around like hoarders do in boxes like you see on TV."
"And she remembered where each piece, at and whose auction, and why she bought a certain piece," Stumpff said.
Born in 1914, Writer worked as an LPN at the Cassville Community Hospital, and the Caldwell Memorial Hospital in Stella during World War II.
"As a very young child, she had an interest in nursing," Stumpff said. "She was kind of the midwife of her community -- she took care of all the sick animals and neighbors. She volunteered at the nursing home and hospital. She was one of the auxiliary women and a life member of the hospital."
"She collected people, too," Mitchell said. "If she had a friend in need of medical help, she would go and stay with them. She would feed them and sit with them, and help them financially, too."
Writer's daughters say she was an independent and adept business woman ahead of her time, obtaining a nursing home administrator's license and building and managing the Sunset Valley Nursing Home, the first licensed nursing home in Cassville, and the Barry County Farm nursing facility.
"The Sunset Valley Nursing Home was active for years," said Cassville resident Gail Purves, whose father, Dr. Gail Purves Sr., built the first official hospital where Mercy Cassville now sits. "I can recall when dad would get up in the middle of the night and leave the house, and the next morning at the breakfast table, mom would ask, 'Who called?' and he would respond that 'someone at Georgia's nursing home had fallen ill.'"
"She always told me that she never borrowed unless she had two ways to repay," Stumpff said. "She was an excellent manager. I think that's why she was so prosperous. She gave God credit for everything in her life, and that started in her early life."
Writer acquired the Allen home after retiring in the early 1970s, and during her career, held her own as a single parent of two boys and two girls, managing the nursing home, a farm and a family after her husband, Herbert Writer, died at a young age.
"She always had a farm and a big garden," Stumpff said.
Although the large, museum-like house that provided a home to Writer and her children for 40 years, and for two previous families for 78 years, has changed hands, to Writer's children, it will always be home.
"It will always seem like our mother's home," Mitchell said.
"I hated to see it go, but we couldn't keep up, there was too much to do," said Gene Writer. "We hope the new owner restores it like it needs to be."
The home had a contract within 14 days of listing it on a historical homes website, and the owners have discussed the possibility of renovating the home into a bed and breakfast. The house was listed by Stumpff's grandson, Brant Vaught, realtor with Keller Williams Realty of Springfield.