The Miller-Pattridge house as it looked when Heidi Hagen bought it in 1990
The Miller-Pattridge house as it looked when Heidi Hagen bought it in 1990
The opening of Glad Gatherings, a splendid retreat center at 310 North Broadway in Spring Valley, brings to mind some of its interesting past. Several years ago the house was purchased by Suzanne Gardner to become known as "Somewhere in Time Bed & Breakfast." Later Chateau de Chic was headquartered here.

A stick-style Queen Anne Victorian home, it was built in 1878 for the residence of H. F. Miller (1827-1890), a dry-goods merchant, together with his wife, Susan, and daughter, Myrtie. They lived there until their respective deaths. Myrtie (1862-1955) first married Elba Henderson in 1885, but the marriage ran into much trouble after 15 years. Myrtie sought a divorce lawyer who had just come to town with his attorney friend, C. D. Allen. His name was Sam Pattridge (1872-1947). Within a year, the attorney and his client were wed, causing a great deal of tongue-wagging about town as Myrtie was age 40 and Sam was only 30.

After the death of her parents, Myrtie inherited the residence, thereafter known as the Pattridge House for the next 40 years. Historian Sharon Jahn did her usual masterful job with research, and found that Sam was very active in civic affairs. Among other things, he served as president of the cemetery board, was much involved with the Commercial Club, and was a volunteer with the local fire department. One of his delightful pastimes drew attention - he belonged to the local indoor baseball team that held games at the Andersen opera house on Section Avenue. This building, constructed in 1885, by Hans Andersen (yes, of Andersen Windows fame), offered the second story for an entertainment venue for countless events such as traveling companies and local activities that needed plenty of space. Sam practiced law in Spring Valley for over 40 years, served as a municipal judge, and also as a county attorney.

During the 1950s, Suzanne Parker owned the residence and used it as rental property. The first tenants in 1958 were Fritz and Ruth Anne Rubin. A later owner removed the spacious front porch and converted the building to apartments.

About 1990, Heidi Hagen purchased the house and proceeded with extensive restoration. She had the wrap-around porch rebuilt and furnished the place lavishly with large pieces of period furniture, draperies, countless antiques bought at auction or garage sales, and repainted and repapered as she chose. At the base of the grand staircase is a spot where she showed off a cast of the shepherd-king, David, which reminded her she had taken on a Goliath of a project to redo the house.

Notable features are the fireplaces, one in the sitting room with encaustic tiles and elaborate carved oak wood, and unbelievably, a similar one in the room directly overhead. Bay windows on both floors admit an abundance of sunlight for "easy living." Pocket doors are enhanced with faux (false) graining, an art form popular at the time and done by itinerant artists. Original "gingerbread" decorations were found in an old shed out back, restored and installed. In the dining room and sun room, the ceiling was of "anagalypta," heavily embossed paper, first installed and then painted. Light fixtures on the main floor were originals with the house, most unusual since it had been rental property for so long. Another feature is the stairway leading from the kitchen to the low-ceiling rooms at the back of the house, obviously servant quarters.

Hagen relished the richness of her Victorian home, evident in elegant wallpaper with gold accents, floor to ceiling draperies, its remarkable furnishings and the claw-footed tub in the bathroom. The lavish Christmas decorations were awesome when she graciously opened her home for tours for the historical society on three different occasions. When Suzanne Gardner was operating the home as a B & B, she, too, offered to host a tour as part of the historical society's annual Christmas Teas and Tours.

The Miller-Pattridge home has seen many changes through the years, and it is a joy to know Denise Erichsen and her family are making it an important part of our thriving community. We will eagerly watch for the grounds to be enhanced next spring, and we trust many groups will avail themselves of this opportunity to enjoy a beautiful setting for their special events.