This article by Karissa Neely was in the The Provo Daily Herald this week, featuring the Farm House in our back yard. We lovingly call this home our portal to heaven home. Several family members departed from our family here, to join family members in The Next Place. There is a powerful sense of family here, for us and for our children, and for generations of family who lived here before we came.
This article tells a bit about this pioneer home, we all love.
Jean M. Larsen, left, and Helen Blake, center, stand with Adam and Heidi Lewis in front of the James Edgar Booth home in Orem on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Blake and Larsen are descendants of Booth, who owned the home for 90 years. The Lewis family owns the home now.
In society today, people are very migratory, moving from home to home without truly setting down roots. But many of us — no matter how many times we’ve changed addresses — still remember that one house that was more than four walls, that one place that was truly a home.
For Helen Blake, the farmhouse at 468 S. Main St. in Orem is that home. Though she now lives in the Courtyard at Jamestown Assisted Living in Provo, her heart will always live within those red brick walls in Orem. For her sister, Jean M. Larsen, and many others, the feeling is the same. Larsen said there were so many happy times there that sometimes it’s hard to drive by the home now — she’s hit with such a sense of nostalgia.
The Orem farmhouse was built in 1894 by George Clinger, who grew fruit trees on the land. After his death in 1902, the home was left vacant. Long before tall buildings obstructed the view of the mountains, and cars cruised constantly up and down State Street, James Edgar Booth and his wife, Charlotte Booth, bought the home and its 30-acre farm in 1903 at a tax auction for $3,900.
According to Blake’s written history of the home, when James Booth bought the home, he also obtained some additional property: “two horses, wagon and harness, one mower, two harrows, two plows, one hayfork and cable, two hogs, eleven stands of bees, one spray pump, one wheelbarrow, one buggy (and) one cow.”
Though less than 10 years old at the time, the home was in need of many renovations and repairs, all of which Booth did, in order to prepare the home for his wife and daughter Lorna.
“Joseph Booth was a successful sheepherder in Nephi, but his wife wanted to settle down and not have him gone so much,” Blake said.
The Booths are Larsen and Blake’s grandparents, and both lived at the home for a time during the 90 years it was owned by the Booths and their descendants. Ultimately, three Booth generations called the farmhouse home, with additions and remodels throughout the years to accommodate their needs. According to Blake’s history of the farmhouse, a cellar was dug in the 1930s under the kitchen — all by hand.
“Using picks and shovels, the men and boys of the family loaded the rocks and dirt into the horse-drawn ‘fresno’ (a type of farm soil scraper) which was then hauled to the field and dumped,” Blake wrote.
James Booth died long before his wife Charlotte, who lived in the home until her death in 1972 — under the watchful care of family members for many of those later years. Joseph and Charlotte Booth had three children, and those children also had three children, so the nine cousins became very close because of days spent on the farm. Blake remembers the home as the gathering place of her family.
“For Christmas, we were all together there, birthdays were always celebrated there. And everyone expected to be involved with everything there — the hay hauling, strawberry and raspberry picking and peach picking and processing,” Blake remembers. “It was a place of many, many happy memories.”
Because of the bonds made in those walls, she and Larsen regularly get together with their cousins — all of whom are still alive.
“The cousins grew up together — we always had Sunday dinners here, so we bonded so much. We’re still close,” Larsen said.
“We have just as much fun now when we get together,” Blake chimed in.
“A lot of that fun is reminiscing about things that happened here,” Larsen said, looking around the front room of the home.
But as the families aged, the home aged as well. After selling off much of the original 30 acres over the decades, and 90 years of struggles and successes, the Booth family decided to sell the home in 1993 to the John and Ann Lewis family. It was a hard choice that needed to be made, Blake said, but it was made easier because of the Lewis family.
“Knowing it’s important to the Lewis family, made it easier,” Blake said.
Though the families did not know each other previously, Blake could tell the Lewis family loved it just as much. According to their son Adam Lewis, John and Ann Lewis loved the home and its property. They first built their own home just south of the old farmhouse, and then set about remodeling the 100-year old home — one of the oldest still standing in Orem.
“They passed by it, and thought it was beautiful. They wanted to refurbish it,” said son Adam Lewis, who has lived in the remodeled farmhouse since 2014. John and Ann are currently mission presidents for the LDS Church in Yakima, Washington.
Adam’s parents were scrupulous in their attention to historic detail, while also modernizing the home. Blake and Larsen love visiting, because many of the woodwork and inside features remind them of their childhood. In fact, when the Lewis family added a small bathhouse on the property, they mimicked the slope and style of the old farmhouse, so it looks like it’s been there the whole time.
Because of the shared love of one 123-year-old Orem farmhouse, two different families have become friends. Just a few years ago, the Lewis family opened the home to 200 of the Booth descendants so they could celebrate a Booth family reunion there. What was once a place of three generations of Booth memories, is now a place of two generations of Lewis memories.
As Blake and Larsen sat in the front room of the home Wednesday with Adam and his wife, Heidi, Larsen remembered when she was a girl, she felt like the farmhouse one of the largest in the neighborhood at the time.
“But as I sit here, I think this isn’t so big,” she laughed.
For Adam and Heidi, who have only been married for three years, and have one young son, the home is more than they need, but they are grateful to live there.
“Knowing it’s important to both families, we want to take extra special care of it,” Heidi Lewis said. “We feel lucky to make memories in this home that already has so many memories.”
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Helen Blake gestures while sharing a memory of the Booth home in Orem. Blake lived in the home, which was owned by the Booth family for 90 years.
Copies of photographs of Charlotte and James Edgar Booth, owners of this 123-year-old farmhouse.Copy of a photograph in Helen Blake’s written history of the James Edgar Booth home.
Many of Booth’s children and grandchildren posed for their wedding photos by this staircase.
Jean M. Larsen, left, and Helen Blake pose for a portrait on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, by the same staircase they posed by for their own bridal pictures decades earlier. The staircase had been shortened during a modern remodel.
Jean M. Larsen, center left, and Helen Blake, center right, stand with Adam and Heidi Lewis near an original fireplace in the James Edgar Booth home in Orem May 3, 2017. Blake and Larsen are descendants of Booth, who owned the home for 90 years. The Lewis family owns the home now.
You can read more about this home and the stories the walls contain here: