Historic Home

Renovated Manitowoc Rapids residence added to Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places

Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter. October 21, 2012.

Tucked away down a curvy, sloping, dead-end road, the stately, grape ivy-covered home of Charlie Ratigan and Jennifer Hogan is about to see a few more cars driving past.

The 162-year-old home, at 224 Mill Road in Manitowoc Rapids, recently was added to the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places following a meticulous 13-year renovation.

Next up for the married couple's residence: placement on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places, which is expected to be rubber-stamped by early spring.

"I don't think many people even know where Mill Road is, but we expect to see a few more cars driving past now because of the honor the home received," Hogan said with a smile. "And that's OK because we put a lot of hard work into renovating our home and we're proud of how everything turned out. We couldn't be happier.'

According to National Register of Historic Places application documents that were provided to the United States Department of the Interior, the house was built in 1850 for Charles and Herriette Klingholz.

The property once spanned 230 acres, but now totals 1.92 acres, a portion of which still features trees from a once vast apple orchard.

The documents, prepared by certified historic preservation consultant Jennifer Lehrke, owner of Legacy Architecture in Sheboygan, also state that "besides being a fine example of Italianate style, the Klingholz House is also an excellent example of the distinctive cream brick building tradition that was practiced in eastern Wisconsin, stemming from the types of clay available for local brickmaking along the western shore of Lake Michigan."

Lehrke explained that sites are added to the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places in any of four categories - architecture, history, archaeology or event.

The Ratigan-Hogan home was unanimously approved by Wisconsin Historical Society subcommittees in the two categories for which it applied - architecture and history. It's rare to be recognized in more than one category, Lehrke and an official with the historical society confirmed.

"It's a great, great example of the Italianate style - boxy proportions, two stories, a low-sloped, hipped roof," Lehrke told the HTR. "It's one of the only Italianate examples around in this area and in this good of a condition."

As for the history category, Lehrke said it was noteworthy that "Klingholz was a really early settler, and he was a mover and a shaker in the Manitowoc area. So that's historically significant to the home as well."

Herriette Klingholz lived in the house from 1850 until her death in 1876. It is believed that Charles Klingholz, a native of Prussia and the proprietor of a nearby flour mill and general store, continued living in the house with two of his adult sons and their families until 1888, when he moved to the city of Manitowoc.

"Throughout its history, the Klingholz House has received excellent care from its owners, and its high degree of integrity is a tribute to this ownership," states the documents prepared by Lehrke. "Consequently, the home is still largely uncompromised and it is one of Manitowoc Rapids' oldest and most impressive buildings."

Charles Klingholz died in 1898, and Klingholz family members continued to live at the home for several years thereafter.

Family connections

Eventually, in 1949, the home was purchased by Hogan's grandmother Anna (Draheim) Goese, whose husband was deceased by that time. Also living with Goese for many years were Hogan's aunt and uncle, Leslie and Gretchen Rapier.

"My grandmother decided that the country was going to be her place. She was a country girl at heart," Hogan, 66, said, fondly recalling many fun-filled days as a child visiting the Mill Road home. "This was her passion. She loved the house. She loved the surrounding area, and she spent years enhancing the home, gardening and finding antiques to fill it."

"She used to read to us in her suite upstairs. I listened to murder mysteries with her. The house really spoke to me. It still does... If the walls could talk, they would talk about my family gathering here - those who are with us yet, and those who are gone."

In 1988, after her grandmother, aunt and uncle had passed away, Hogan took on the duty of selling the home. At the time, buying the home wasn't on her radar because she had a successful corporate career in Chicago (which is where she ended up meeting Ratigan; they married in 2001).

Hogan did, however, tell the homeowners that if they ever ended up selling the home to let her know. And they did just that.

In 1998, the home was about to go on the market, so Hogan and Ratigan traveled from Chicago to take a look.

"So we came up - I had never seen the home before - and looked at each other and said, 'Let's buy it right now,'" said Ratigan, 67. "And so we did, and that began the process of restoration."

Fourteen years later - after countless hours and some nights spent sleeping on floors wherever there was space between projects - the restoration is complete.

Well, sort of.

"When you think you're done with an old home, an old home is never done with you," Ratigan said with a laugh. "That's how the phrase goes, and it's true. There's always something."

Ratigan and Hogan proudly noted that the renovation efforts were locally based.

"I think it's important for the community to know that we did this by shopping locally and finding fantastic resources," Hogan said. "We didn't have to go to Sheboygan, Green Bay, Chicago, although we lived in downtown Chicago for a while. We did it all from resources and people here in Manitowoc County."

Added Ratigan, a native of the Los Angeles area: "Even in a town the size of Manitowoc, you don't need to go to other cities to find skilled tradespeople. We found plenty of them right here. Very, very talented people."

Ratigan said Hogan also played a big part in the home's cozy atmosphere.

"I always told her, 'When I put stuff together you end up with a house. But when you put things together you end up with a home.' A totally different concept. People always tell Jennifer, 'You missed your calling. You should've been an interior designer.'"

The home is filled with a vast array of decorative elements complementing each of the rooms and spaces. Ratigan and Hogan share a passion for art, which is evident in their collections displayed throughout the home.

Some of the decor is especially meaningful, like the helm from the USS Platte AO-24, on which Ratigan served during his time as a navigator with the U.S. Navy. Or the picture of Hogan reading a book at the home when she was a youngster.

"Growing up, I always felt I belonged here," Hogan said. "Did I think I'd return to my hometown after having a corporate career in Chicago? I wasn't sure that was in the cards. But it was."

And how long do they intend to live in their historically recognized home?

"We're here until the very end," Hogan said, adding with a smile: "We're coming out feet first."