House on the Hill
| Click on image titles for larger views. || |
The Weyerhaeuser Home is one of the finest examples of Second Empire architecture in the Quad Cities. Imitating the latest style of French architecture during the reign of Napoleon III, it spread to the U.S. and was popular in the Midwest and Northeast from the 1860s to the 1880s. This magnificent 25-room home was the residence of Frederick Weyerhaeuser, a German-born lumber baron who founded the Weyerhaeuser-Denkmann Lumber Company in Rock Island with his brother-in-law Frederick Denkmann. The asymmetry of the façade, aided by the bay windows and one-story porches, as well as the tall, narrow, elaborately framed windows, are part of this ornate style. But its most characteristic feature is the sloping mansard roof pierced by windows. This feature was believed to be especially functional, since it gave the attic sufficient light to be used for living space.
By the middle of the 20th century, the Weyerhaeuser's lumber business had followed the lumber industry north and west, and the home was held by Frederick's daughter, Apollonia Weyerhaeuser Davis, and her husband Sam, a prominent figure in the industrial development of Rock Island. After Mrs. Davis's death in 1953, the home and its 26-acre estate were given to the college by the family, with two stipulations: that Augustana provide life-long housing for Mr. and Mrs. John Koehler (longtime employees of the Davises who resided in the house), and that the home continue to be known by the family's own cherished moniker, House on the Hill. Since 1955 it has been home to the Augustana Research Foundation, and in recent years it has been the locus of research by Augustana geology professor Bill Hammer, who discovered the first Antarctic dinosaur fossils in 1991.