Created By: North Dakota State University
The Houston Mansion, a bonanza farm house, was built by David H. Houston in 1881 near Hunter, ND. Houston was a Scottish immigrant who, upon settling in the U.S., became a farmer, poet, and inventor. The elegant house included maple floors, cherry and oak wainscoting, walnut staircase, high ornamental ceilings, and large bay windows. Mr. Houston also had new heating systems with hot air furnaces installed in the basement. This heated the house using metal conduits and air registers. The home even had an indoor bathroom which was uncommon for the time. The original home cost is estimated around $7,000.
The home you see today is only half of the Houston Mansion, the part was the Houston families living quarters. The second part of the home housed the kitchen and staffs living quarters. The Houston’s had the home split the moved the servant’s quarters across the road. One reason is that it was not proper for the field hands who lived in the quarters to live there with Mrs. Houston. Another is that it gets extremely hot in the summer if you are using the kitchen.
David Houston is best known for his patent for a roll film apparatus, used to roll film in early cameras. He sold the rights to William Walker for $700. Walker then sold the rights to Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company of Rochester (Eastman Kodak). Conflicts between Eastman and Houston arose and Houston began to sell his improved designs to Eastman’s competitors. However, after his death, Houston's will left his remaining 21 photographic patents to George Eastman.
David Houston married Annie Laurie Pencille on April 26, 1888 and together they had one son, David Jr., born in 1889. Eventually the house was moved to Bonanzaville in 1971 along with Arthur Town Hall, the Page Hotel and Brass Rail Saloon, and the Hunter Times building.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Bonanzaville Historic House Tour