Videos Coming Soon!
The Columns was built in 1895 by Albert E. Wooden, the elder son of pioneer James R. Wooden. In
1856, James and his wife, America, had come to Centerville, where James became a pioneer merchant
and harness maker with a store building called the "hooiser" store east of the old Keystone Hotel. At
first the family lived above the store. Mr. Wooden made many trips to Chicago to replenish his
merchandise stock. Later he was also in the banking business at the First National Bank. It was he that
donated the clock that adorns the courthouse tower. There were two sons, Albert Edgar and Charles R.
Albert Edgar Wooden built the lovely white house in 1895. The contractor was Stelle, Bennett and
Veach. The frame building was said to be in keeping with his enterprising spirit. Albert and his wife,
Mary Miller Wooden, moved from the abode on North Hill where he had been living since a fire
preceding winter. Albert's father, J.R. Wooden also lived in the house ever since his wife, America, had
died. J.R. finally died in 1916 at the age of 90.
The house was a model of modern architecture and its interior arrangement for comfort and
convenience made it one of the handsomest homes in the city. It contains sixteen rooms, a beautiful
open stairway with oak railing, wide dark, carved woodwork, thick brick walls, a full basement,
numerous fireplaces, and a back stairway into the kitchen. There is a portico over the driveway. There
was a lovely sunken garden and hedges on the east end of the lot, but they were later removed and the
A.E. Wooden took over his father's business of the clothing store. He gradually specialized, making it a
mens clothing store. He was callled Ed by all of his friends. His daughter, America Belle, was the wife of
Nate Kendall, who had been Goernor of Iowa from Albia. Eventually the store was sold. A.E. died of a
stroke at his residence in March of 1920. His wife died a few months later.
By 1922, the house was owned by Harry Jennings. He was the manager of the Jennings-Sams
Wholesale Grocery Co. which had started in 1913 and were located near the I.S.U. power house. Harry
lived in the home untill about 1952, when Jack and Mabel Philips bought it and operated it as a Nursing
Home. They sold it in 1955 and it became the Luse Nursing Home for about ten years.
In 1977 the home was listed as Victorian House Antiques under the ownership of Joseph V. Krempp.
Somewhere along the line it was used as a college boys' dormitory. Sometime in the 1980's, it became
"Paint and Primitives", and arts and crafts and needle arts store owned by Joe and Mary Murphy. Mary
taught painting and they also operated a bed and breakfast as well as a luxurious home.
Several more owners enjoyed the house over the years. It is now owned by Morgan Cline, which he
converted the home to a gift shop called "The Columns".
This article was from Historic Homes of Centerville, Iowa
by W.M. Heusinkveld