Reality TV Hits Home: Jayne House on TLC's "Heavy Haulers"
I am out west to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday and have had the pleasure of meeting some distant relatives for the first time. We talked about our shared ancestry and got to discuss my great-grandfather Henry Jayne’s house in Muscatine, Iowa. I was once able to borrow my 102-year-old cousin Edith’s childhood album to scan the images of the house. There is a view of the Queen Anne-style facade with its notable curved porch and some evocative views of his garden, with a circular bed centered with tropical leaves. Also amongst these pictures is one of Edith in fancy dress riding a goat cart with a friend.
The house, in part because of these pictures, has always held a prominent place in our family’s memory. As a historian and a designer, it seems like a gift to know what your ancestors’ house looked like, so I delight in these ancient views.
Remarkably, until March of this year, it stood next to the city’s arts center. Recently, they planned to demolish it, at one point considering the spot for a sculpture garden. After much effort by preservationist and the greater community, the house was saved and relocated. Their efforts are recorded on this Facebook page.
On March 23, it was moved around the corner and down a block to a new address. This transition will be the subject of a program called "Heavy Haulers" on The Learning Channel, now scheduled for May 20.
On Saturday, we celebrated Edith’s birthday and my father’s 90th, and made a toast to their shared longevity. Who would guess that the family’s celebration would carry into the week with the triumph of their grandfather’s house and its appearance on reality TV?
Photos from top: a 1910 view of Henry Jayne’s house; Edith Jayne Smith as a child with her goat cart; Henry Jayne’s garden in 1910; moving day, March 23, the house on its way to its new home; the house on its new base.