Built in 1867, the Chubb House is the oldest residence standing in Fairmont, and the only of the town's houses known to have been built with brick from Fairmont's first brickyard. It was the home of prominent homesteader Orville Chubb, who was the community's first physician. The house is an example of a property associated with the early Yankee American development of southern Minnesota town sites.
In 1865 Orville Paterson Chubb traveled to southern Minnesota. At the time, he was an officer in the Fifth Michigan Regiment. Representing himself and other officers, he purchased the town site were Fairmont was eventually plotted. In 1866 Chubb moved to Minnesota with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Lottie. He and other town founders planned the town of Fairmont and began building homes and businesses.
A few months after their move to Fairmont, in an effort to stimulate the development of the town site, Chubb and fellow Michigan officer Colonel Lounsberry established a brickyard on the southwestern side of Buffalo Lake, about two miles north of the Chubb House. Because the clay was believed to contain too much lime to make durable brick, the brickyard was short-lived. The Chubb House was the first brick house to be built in the county and is the only building still standing which was made from brick from the Chubb-Lounsberry kiln.
The Chubb House was constructed by John R. Dalton, an Irish-born mason who had homesteaded in Martin County in 1866. The house was built at a time when most other structures in the county were log or woodframe. The house was built on Lake Avenue just north of Fort Fairmont and just south of the home of Chubb's sister and brother-in-law, Alta Chubb Cadwell and Alpha D. Cadwell. Chubb named the street between the two houses Lottie Street in honor of his daughter.
The Chubb House is one of southwestern Minnesota's few extant examples of the Greek Revival style. The small, one-and-a-half story house was constructed of reddish-brown brick made locally in the first kiln erected at Fairmont. The basement was constructed of large fieldstones and lake boulders held together with mortar. The mortar was scored around each rock on both the inside and outside of the foundation.
Chubb is credited with playing a significant role in the building of the Fairmont community. As co-owner of the town site, he was active in designing its physical layout and drew plans for Fairmont's first cemetery and county fairgrounds. As Fairmont's only physician until 1871 he held a professional and social position that was crucial in the community. Sarah E. Gorton Chubb, who had been born in Michigan in October of 1831, was also a leader in the community, although few of her contributions have been recorded. She was an active member of the local Congregational church.
In 1875 the Chubbs left Minnesota so their daughter Lottie could attend school in Nebraska. They sold their house to George S. Livermore. The Chubbs returned to Fairmont, but in 1880 their daughter died, and in 1882, Sarah died. Dr. Chubb remarried and moved to California. He died in 1894 and is buried in Fairmont.
Under its second owner, George S. Livermore, the Chubb House served as one of the first hotels in the young village of Fairmont. Livermore was also a prominent early merchant who bought livestock and ran a meat market. He became one of Martin County's most-respected and wealthiest citizens. He was still living in the house in 1897 and died in 1904. It was probably Livermore who added the southern addition to the house. The third owner of the house, David Wade, was born in Martin County in 1867 and attended Fairmont schools. He was a leading businessman for sixty-eight years. Wade added a woodframe rear kitchen extension and a Classical Revival-style entrance to the house.
In 1992, the house was threatened with demolition to make room for a parking lot. The Martin County Preservation Association was formed to save the house. The Association purchased the house for $35,000 and refurbished it.
Chubb, Orville P. and Sarah, House, National Register of Historic Places Nomination File, State Historic Preservation Office, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul
Editor's Note: This nomination file was the main source used in the writing of this article.
Martincountypreservation.org. About Chubb House.
Gardner, Denis P. Minnesota Treasures: Stories Behind the State's Historic Places. St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2004.
In 1865, representing himself and fellow officers of the Fifth Michigan Regiment, Orville Chubb claims land at the future site of Fairmont.
In April, Orville Chubb arrives in Minnesota to claim land for himself and fellow officers of the Fifth Michigan Regiment. He purchases the undeveloped town site of Fairmont.
In March, Orville and Sarah Chubb arrive in Fairmont with their daughter Lottie.
Construction of the Greek Revival-style Chubb house is completed.
The Chubbs move to Omaha, Nebraska. George S. Livermore buys the house and operates it as a hotel.
Owner David Wade replaces the summer kitchen with a wood-framed addition.
Wade adds a small Classical-Revival porch.
Threatened with destruction, the Chubb house is saved by the Martin County Preservation Association.
The Chubb House is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.