P. H. ANDERSON RESTORES LIFE TO OLD HOUSE
One Time Millburn Show Place
Is Brought Back to Former Glory.
By George Rinehart
MILLBURN - Two years ago last September, Philip H. Anderson,
chief of the disposition unit at the Veterans Administration
Hospital, Downey, stood facing what was once the well-kept lawn
of the Robert Strang homestead in this village.
Across the weeds and briars he saw what was once a mansion which
commanded the respect of the village and the farm area for miles
Now it was anything but the show place it once was. The porches
had rotted away, windows were broken, cobwebs covered the windows
and hung from the ceilings, and dust covered the lattice
shutters, the woodwork and floors. The interior would have made
an excellent setting for a Hollywood haunted house movie.
Anderson saw this as a challenge in the way of restoration. From
Victor Strang, Beach Rd., a great grandson of the original owner,
he purchased the five-acre estate and began the tedious job of
The building itself was well constructed. Robert Strang, a
farmer had brick hauled from Milwaukee, Wis. To provide the solid
masonry for the 40x40 foot structure, which contained 12 rooms
and four bathrooms.
There is a basement beneath the entire structure and the attic
with its look-out cupola, typical of the early day, is so large
that Anderson has his TV aerial in it.
The lower floor has its large kitchen where a huge coal stove
provided both heat for cooking and radiation. Off the kitchen
toward the front of the house is a tea room as large as the
present day dining room. The Strangs were of English-Scotch
descent, and the tea room was their favorite gathering place in
Anderson has furnished the tea room with 19th century chairs and
table. A chandelier that once hung in the North Prairie Church
hangs over the table. It has a central filling oil receptacle
from which the oil drained to the cluster of lamps surround it.
It is now lighted electrically.
The tea room and the dining room are separated by a butler's
pantry, which has a sliding door at the shelf from which the
dining room is served.
Over the long oak dining table hands a chandelier which Mr.
Anderson's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Anderson, brought from
Sweden. The chandelier is of wrought iron with holders for
candles below which, prisms dangle. In the center is a pot for
flowers. Electric dangles now replace the tallow ones that were
used back in Sweden.
Resembling a fire place at first glance is a writing desk, a
replica of a castle on the Rhine river in Germany. It was made
in Gothenburg, German, and brought to the country and placed in
the German house at the time of the 1893 World's Exposition in
Chicago. Anderson got it from an antique dealer in Wheeling and
now finds it a decorative article for the large dining room.
From the dining room won crosses a large hallway which may be
entered from the vestibule of the front doorway. From this
hallway a semi-circular stairway takes one to the second floor
where there are six bedrooms, two of them for servants, and two
Off the hallway at the first floor level there is also a bathroom
which had a metal bath tub when Anderson purchased the place.
Other bathrooms had merely the lavatory.
Off the hallway opposite the dining room is the parlor with its
wood shutters to regulate the light, and from the parlor an open
way, shut off at times by drapes, leads to the music room. Doors
from the music room open either into a rear room or into a guest
Between the guest room and the kitchen is the second bathroom of
the lower floor.
CEILINGS ARE HIGH
The 10 1/2 foot ceilings, the wood molding add to the
spaciousness and grandure of the house of that period. The
chimneys were constructed in the exterior corners so that outlets
could be obtained form one chimney for two rooms.
All rooms except bedrooms had coal stoves, and one or two of
these stoves, long, low iron pieces, were found among the trash
left in the basement, according to Anderson.
There were five children in the Strang family, none of whom are
living, Anderson said. One of them became a merchant. A day
book left in the basement of the house is quite legible and tells
of the purchases made by local citizens and the price which they
paid for each article obtained on credit.
Anderson, who lives alone in the large house is assisted in its
upkeep by hired help, and gets much satisfaction from the manner
in which he has outfitted it. He entertains at large dinner
parties and enjoys escorting visitors through the house.