Created By: North Dakota State University
While the Checkered Years House belonged to the manager of a bonanza farm, the Houston Mansion belonged to the owner of a bonanza farm, David Houston who built the house in 1886 in Hunter, ND. Houston had moved to Hunter in 1879, and after his first home was destroyed in a storm, he used some of the wealth he accumulated through bonanza farming to build the extravagant home now here at Bonanzaville.
Houston was a successful farmer and even developed his own type of wheat, but his most notable achievement was his development of a photography product, the rights of which he sold to the Eastman-Kodak Company.
Notable features of the house include maple floors, cherry and oak wainscoting, walnut staircase, ornamental ceilings, and its bathroom, which was highly uncommon for a house of the time to include. The house also has a darkroom, reflecting Houston’s avid interest in photography. When constructed, Houston had the newest heating system of the time installed as well, a hot air furnace. Additionally many of the houses furnishings are original.
Only the main living quarters of the house resides at Bonanzaville; the staff quarters and kitchen were split from the house and moved across the street from the house’s original location in Hunter. Inside the main museum of Bonanzaville, you will find a model of this bonanza farm, where you can see the original layout of the house before its split.
This point of interest is part of the tour: The Bonanza Days of Bonanzaville