"The Paris House"
32 West 200 South
Written by Mary Ann Price Stucki, edited by Glendon Gee
In 1886 William and Ella Rich began to build a sturdy new two-story frame house just east of his mother’s home. Of course Grandma Rich was delighted to think that they would be living next door to her. William Rich’s house still stands on the north side of Canyon Street (2nd South), ˝ block west of Main Street. In later years the house was owned by the Joseph Stucki family and hereafter called either the Stucki house or simply the Paris House [because so many of the family lived in other parts of the country]. The Ernest Shepherd house was later built between the Rich house and the Stucki house. Zula’s parents (William and Ella Rich) had lived in small log houses most of their lives, and had moved fifteen times in the nine years since their marriage. But William L. was a good business man, they had been prospering and saving, and now they were building one of the nicest homes in the valley.
Zula was then six years old. What fun she had watching the workmen and making playhouses in the piles of lumber and shingles. And what a joy the parents had in planning and seeing the new house take shape. Clothes closets and bathrooms were still unknown to them, so they were not missed. Expert workmen came from Salt Lake City to do the finishing. Many of the new furnishings purchased in Salt Lake had seldom been seen in Bear Lake Valley. Zula recalls how people came to see and marvel at the new spring blinds that did not have to be rolled up by hand or tied at the top, the floor length lace curtains on fancy wooden poles, the linoleum on the kitchen floor, the patterned wallpaper with a border at the top, instead of whitewashed walls, and factory-made carpet with a flowered pattern for the stairway and spare bedroom. As visitors admired in awe, Zula’s mother would say modestly, “Well, we expect to spend the rest of our lives here.”
It was just before Thanksgiving in November 1886, that the Rich family moved into their dream home with their four children: Willie, 8, Zula 6, Jessie 3, and baby Mabel, about 10 months old. Soon afterwards a near tragedy occurred in the new home. Little Jesse carried a candle upstairs to the spare room, set it on the floor and pushed aside the long lace curtains to look out the window. The curtain touched the candle, blazed up, and fell to the floor in flames. In panic, Jessie spit on it, but that did no good, so he ran out, shut the door and told no one. A few days later when his mother entered the room, she saw a two-foot strip of the carpet and the new straw beneath it burned away, also the curtains, and a deep hole had been burned in the baseboard. Then the fire had gone out itself. What a fright it gave her.
The family’s joy in the new house was short-lived, for just two weeks after they moved in, William received a call to move immediately to Montpelier to be the bishop there. This was one of the most difficult Church assignments in the valley. The Mormons had settled the east part of Montpelier, called ‘uptown’, but with the coming of the railroad in 1882, many railroaders and non-Mormons had settled a little to the west and near the tracks and station. Small Montpelier was gaining in population and business, but it was sharply divided as a community. In the west section, called ‘downtown’ were many saloons (the only ones in the valley) and other undesirable elements. There was much persecution and conflict between the two sections. Then, too, the problems confronting young people in Montpelier mad it a difficult place to rear a family as well as to be a bishop.
Besides the necessity of giving up the lovely new Paris home, this move presented many other problems, not the least of which was polygamy. All Mormon bishops were expected to marry another wife, and at that time the persecution for plural marriage was at its peak. After much thought, fasting and prayer, William said, “Ella, I think we should stay here. It’s asking too much of you.” “William, you know we have been called,” Ella answered bravely. “I am willing if you are.” “Then we will go,” he replied, although he grimly realized what difficulties and sacrifices it would entail. They agreed to leave soon after Christmas.
The Joseph Clark family, dear friends from Georgetown came to see the new house and celebrate the housewarming. Zula watched adoringly as her mother donned a beautiful maroon velvet dress, and the adults left for a party in the First Ward meeting house. The children had been warned that they must not touch the new coal oil lamp standing on the center table. But as they were marching gaily around the center table, someone’s shoe button caught in the fringe of the table cover, and the lamp was jerked suddenly to the floor. Luckily the flames went out before the oil ran out on the rug. Loud, frightened cries arose from the children in the sudden darkness, but just then Zula’s father walked in. He had left the dance to return to check on the children. William and Ella felt for sometime that they had been blessed and protected by the Lord, because both times the fires could have been disastrous.
Although the children were unaware of the weight of their parents’ problems they too, dreaded leaving the new home and friends in Paris. Still the family tried to have a happy Christmas there. That year they had their first Christmas tree and the gifts were hung on it for ornaments. But they were surrounded by boxes, packed for moving. The only house vacant in East Montpelier was a small, old, two-room, dirt-roofed log house worse than any they had ever lived in. [Taken from Chapter 3 of Zula Rich Cole’s history]
As far as we have been able to research, these are the people that have lived in the Paris House: James E. Hart, George Cole, Arthur and Beulah Hess, James Dunn, Marvin Allred. Joseph and Mary Stucki bought the house and moved in the last of August, 1917.
We rented some of the rooms upstairs to young people that came from the nearby farming communities to go to school at Fielding High School for the school term. We rented to some from Liberty and some from Bern. At times we also rented the big front room downstairs to different families. I remember the Clegg family lived there, and Aunt Netta and Grandmother Price lived there. Aunt Netta came to have Dr. Sutton deliver her baby when Van was born. Aunt Annie and her family lived there. Some of the young couples starting out in their marriage rented the two front upstairs rooms. Eugene and Leonora Stucki, Virginia and John Ballantyne, William and Dixie Rich lived there and Bill and Mable Athay also lived there, but not right at the beginning of their marriage.
[Editor’s note: Mary Stucki owned the Paris House until the time she died (April 6, 1975). Amazingly, she kept the house, paid the taxes, and maintained it, in spite of her very limited income. An insurance policy taken out by Joseph, paid her $34.64 each month from the time Joseph died in 1927, and was her only steady source of income. Other income came by rentals, sewing, taking in washing, and ironing, and making hats. From this income, she raised a family and kept her home. In later years she was assisted in numerous ways by her children and near the time of her death spent most of her time in their homes. However, she was very proud and happy that the Paris House was hers and that she could live in it as long as she wanted.]
What follows now are Notes on the Paris House by Pearl Gee (Taken from “Pearl Gee Life Story”, as edited by GW Gee- electronic copy in possession of GW Gee and others):.
“Shortly after mother’s death, in 1975, the five of mother’s living children (Wendell, Evelyn, Mabel, Pearl and Max) went to Mother’s house and talked about what to do with the house and property. Mother had deeded it to the five children, so we needed to all talk together. We chose three things that we wanted from the house. I chose the sewing machine, the glass-door cupboard and 2 fern stands. Evelyn chose the sewing machine too, but Wendell, who presided, gave it to me. He took mother’s crocheted bedspread and the velvet album that mother had, that she kept in her drawer. Max took the copper-bottomed boiler and I think that is all he said he wanted. Evelyn took the two trunks, and Mabel took the pictures of Father and Mother, and Grandfather and Grandmother Stucki, later she brought them back to be left in the house. We talked about selling the house, and all four of the other brothers and sisters wanted to sell it. I told them I didn’t want to sell, really. I thought we ought to all go in together and fix it up so it could be a summer home for all of the families, but they insisted that they wanted to sell it and get their money, I said, “well, I would sell too”. After I talked to Ivin privately, he agreed with me that we should keep it in the family. I called Wendell the next morning, to tell him I didn’t want to sell it and in the meantime he had called all of his family and they decided that they would buy it, and I said. “Well, lets go in together and fix it up”, so we left it at that. Two years passed and we hadn’t done a thing more about the place. Wendell hadn’t paid the taxes or the taxes on the mineral rights so I paid them. After my cousin Adella Brown’s death and funeral, Mabel, Wendell and I got together to talk about the house. Mabel and Evelyn had each paid Wendell their share of the taxes so we sort of straightened that out that day, and we talked about doing something with the house. We, Ivin and I, put the water back in and got it fixed up a bit and Rosemary and Steven came over and helped Ivin tear down the old fence and build a new one with criss- cross planks and it looked quite nice.
“Our mission went from July 1, 1977 to May of 1979. We could have come home at Christmas time and some of the people that worked in the Temple did, but Ivin offered to stay on a little longer, and they accepted his offer. In April, I wasn’t feeling very well. Ivin insisted that I fly home and stay with Rosemary and then he would come and bring the furniture and the things that we had bought to put in the Paris house. During this time we had finished up the arrangements to buy the Paris house from Wendell, Evelyn, Mabel and Max. We paid them their shares in the spring of 1979 and so we became the sole owners of the Paris House.”
[Further notes on the Paris House by Glendon W. Gee. (Included are excerpts from “Pearl Gee Life Story” and notes and letters to family by Glendon W. Gee through August 2006)].
Over the next 20 years (1979 through 1999), Pearl and Ivin spent most of their summers in Paris, renovating the Paris House. This was a continual project. It included replacing the main water line, adding a back porch, redoing the front porch and the balcony, renovating most of the rooms, redoing the electrical wiring, replacing windows, modifying the plumbing, renovating the kitchen, redoing the roof, repainting the entire house at least twice, and building an unattached garage. Ivin did most of the work, but had help from family members and a few contractors. Pearl’s son, Martell and his children, who were living in Logan when Ivin and Pearl returned from their temple mission to Washington DC in 1979, helped almost every weekend for an extended time. In the summer of 1980, Ivin had help from Martell, Howard and his friend as well as Aaron and Joseph Gee in the construction of the front porch and balcony. Steve Wall provided a door from the renovation of the Logan Temple that is now in the Paris house, located between the kitchen and back porch. Howard spent parts of three summers working with Ivin during the renovation period. Others came at times and helped with the house renovation. Glendon’s children all had a chance to help on the Paris House. David stayed one summer for several weeks and helped Ivin with building the garage and roofing it. One of the extra benefits that Ivin made to the Paris House was to put in a row of raspberries on the east side of the driveway that leads to the garage. This has provided delicious August fruits, along with plumbs from three trees on the other side of the driveway and a gooseberry bush that still bears fruit in August.
Over the years, Pearl’s family and Stucki relatives were invited to come to the Paris House and spend vacation time with Ivin and Pearl. In 1982, Pearl and Ivin’s 50th wedding anniversary was held at the Paris House and all of their children and grandchildren were there to celebrate that special event. In 1986, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Paris House and Martell had a plaque made for the Paris House, that reads,
1886 “The Paris House” 1986
Built in 1886 by William L. Rich, it was purchased
in 1917 by Joseph Smith Stucki and Mary Price Stucki.
It has remained in the Stucki family, who
affectionately call it “The Paris House”. It is now owned by
a daughter, Pearl, and her husband Ivin L. Gee.
In 1997, the Paris House was deeded to Pearl and Ivin’s son, Glendon. Glendon and his wife, Shirley, have managed the house since that time. In 2004, the front porch and balcony had weathered so badly that it was decided to replace them. The front of the house was renovated and a large enclosed room (24 x24 feet) replaced the porch. The roof on the new room is a “hip roof” similar in style to that of the main house. Brown metal roofing covers the entire house and garage. Vinyl siding was used on the new addition and on the back of the house (back porch and kitchen). To preserve the look of the original house and make sure that the corner “quoins” were prominent, a paint-on siding, reddish brown in color was used on the quoins and window frames, in contrast to the beige color used on the rest of the house and garage. A basement was added below the new porch room making an additional bedroom, bathroom and living space for sleeping at least a family of 6. Access to the basement is provided by both an outside and an inside stairway. The inside stairway leads to the living room of the main house. A handicap ramp was constructed along the east side of the house that leads to the east-side entrance of the new addition. In 2005, the old shed immediately back of the house was removed and a carport (gazebo) was added on the northwest side of the house. A lean-to was added to the back of the garage to accommodate wood storage and parking of the lawn tractor during the summer. A gravel driveway was constructed around the house so that access to the back is easier. The apple tree on the west side of the house was removed and a set of horseshoe pits were installed.
Families continue to be encouraged to come and visit, hold reunions etc. and in all ways enjoy the Paris House and the heritage that goes with it. The Paris House currently has over 3300 square feet of living space, consisting of seven bedrooms, five baths, two kitchens, a living room and the great room (renovated front porch). Since the renovation, we have had as many as 50 people stay at the house at one time. Families that are interested in staying at the Paris House should contact Glendon and Shirley Gee - 208-945-2934 in Paris or 509-946-9845 in Richland, Washington or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.