Program and home tour March 18
By Tami Beaumont
Somewhere Minerva Healy-Lucken is smiling. The family home that her father, Bartholomew Healy, built in 1909 is being cared for and lovingly restored by Monroe resident and business owner Jayne Kingsley Morse.
Minerva lived in the home from age 6 until her death in 1997 at age 94. Since then, the stately old house has gone through many changes including a subdivision of the property that resulted in new homes being built all around it. Many in the community worried that the grand home would be demolished. Luckily, the house was for sale in 2012 and, with the help of family and friends, Morse struck a deal to buy it.
“I brought a friend to look at it. I needed another person to see it so that I would know if the potential I saw was real. She had only positive feedback and encouragement. My son and daughter-in-law, Lans and Stacy Morse, agreed that, with hard work, the sweat equity would pay off,” she said. “The house was in deplorable condition then. It was bank-owned and had been vacant. Windows were broken and the carpets were so bad I had to wear a mask to remove them.”
Morse will share more details of the renovation and restoration at a March 18 meeting of the Monroe Historical Society, along with information about the Healy family. She is hosting the meeting and a tour of the house. Jayne is also a partner in Abbey Antiques which is located in the original 1914 Catholic Church just a few doors down from her home.
Jayne moved to Monroe in 1992 after living in Duvall and, earlier, New England. She owned old homes there, too – the oldest was in Plainfield, New Hampshire, built in the 1700s.
The Healy home has a rich but tragic history. Like Jayne, lumberman Bart Healy moved to Monroe in 1909 from Duvall (then called Tolt) in part to help heal his wife of tuberculosis. The porches on the first and second floor of the home were added to allow Minerva to get fresh air every day. Sadly, Minerva and two of the Healy’s small children died the following year, leaving young Minerva (named after her mother), Marjorie, Marguerite and father Bart to live out their years in the large family home.
Jayne has been asked if there are any unusual happenings in the home, perhaps spirits of the departed Healy family.
“I haven’t noticed much. The occasional flickering lights maybe, at which I yell for Minerva to ‘cut it out!’” she smiled. “We were in the attic one time working and discovered old wine and medicine bottles. There were also several medical items which lead me to believe that, during the influenza outbreak, a sick room was created in the attic, possibly to care for Minerva’s mother and her siblings.”
Monroe residents have been incredibly supportive toward Jayne’s renovation project. People often stop when she is working outside or just walk up to the front door. “Everyone is curious. One man in a truck has stopped a few times just to say good job,” she said.
Besides community support, Jayne says the greatest reward has been the opportunity to save a piece of history. “A lovely old home with character was being destroyed for condos. We are such a disposable society and that includes homes,” she noted. “In New England old homes are respected and cared for. The homes there have character the same as the Healy house. I think that is what drew my attention to it.”
The house has come with its financial challenges, including the need for a new roof at a cost of $8,000 to $10,000. Jayne saved enough to repair the lower roof, but still needs to replace the main top roof. It leaks and is so inadequate that her pipes froze this winter.
“After the roof I can insulate and paint. Eventually I will change out a few more windows, keeping the large ones original in the living room. I also want to restore the original, ornate front door that was original to the house,” she said. “I saved it after it was seriously damaged by some vandals. It was replaced with a temporary door until I can afford to have it restored.”
Many of the windows are cracked or have gaps in the panes. “At $500 per window to re-pane and glaze, it is a slow process. I have been lucky to have friends that have helped,” Jayne added. “Everything is in steps. I really want the house to be as beautiful as it deserves to be.”
The photo below was published in 1989 before Minerva’s death in 1997. It was taken in 1911 when Minerva was 8.