A Labor of Love
Valentine Carriage House
By Doug Lowe
For more than a century now, Mt. Pleasant residents and visitors passing by the intersection of 500 West and 600 South have witnessed a red brick home, on the southwest corner, during one or more of its three distinctive, but equally heart-warming incarnations.
The home first appeared in that location when its construction began: probably sometime between 1899 and 1901. For in the summer of 1901, the charming place became home to a young newlywed couple, Hans Jacob Jorgensen and Elphena Marie Christensen Jorgensen, who moved in immediately after Mt. Pleasant’s Justice of the Peace, Peter Matson, married them on July 17, 1901.
Hans had been born in Denmark in 1869, and came to Mt. Pleasant in 1890. Elphena was a Mt. Pleasant native, born in 1873, just four years after her future husband was born in Denmark. Together, the newlyweds loved living in their spacious new home. On the ground floor, they had a formal parlor, dining room, kitchen and bathroom (both without plumbing), pantry (with a cellar beneath.) Their bedroom, what we would now call “the master bedroom” was also on the ground floor. Upstairs, they had three smaller bedrooms plus an attic storage space.
At first, the home may have been a bit too large for the young couple, but over the years, as each of six children arrived, all its space was fully utilized. Ephena kept a large garden, canned all kinds of fruits and vegetables and sewed all the family’s clothes. To bring in extra money, she also did fine needle and sewing machine work for others. Hans did his part farm and tending livestock—especially as a sheep man who spent many winters looking after sheep down in the desert.
After having lived a challenging and fulfilling 26 years in her wedding-present home, Elphena passed away on Jan. 27, 1927. Hans continued to live in the wedding home, without his beloved partner, who he affectionately called “mama dear.” Fortunately, for most of the next 30 years Hans had little time to feel lonely because at least one of his grown children, complete with his or her own family, lived with grandpa Hans.
When he died in the summer of 1957, at the age of 88, Hans had been enjoying the cooler temperatures out on the front porch, where he kept a cot in order to recline while enjoying the evening breeze and setting sun.
Fast forward 90 years.
In 1991, the old home that Hans and Elphena first occupied began to have its second incarnation when a newly retired couple moved to the area and decided the place was perfect for them. For their retirement, Ed and Dorothy Valentine left Texas, selling off the business and home they owned there, and came to Mt. Pleasant because Dorothy, a native of Milford, Beaver County’s old railroading town, consider Sanpete valley to be “Gods County.”
Any thoughts that the couple may have had about kicking back and taking it easy in their golden years went out the window when Dorothy fell in love with the dilapidated old Jorgensen home. For her, its appeal seemed to go beyond simply the visible remnants of the structure’s slowing-fading charm. Dorothy was soon imagining the place as her “dream home.”
Ed had doubt. Eventually, he agreed to buying “the run down place,” mostly because Dorothy really wanted it. But, another factor in its favor, according to Ed was that “somebody besides me has already added indoor plumbing and electrical wiring.”
Soon, Ed and Dorothy were living in the home while they also repaired, replaced, remodeled and restored it. At first they worked on simply making the long neglected old place livable. Their overall goal, however, was to revive and preserve the home’s original beauty in addition to having it livable by today’s standards.
Seven years after their move to Mt. Pleasant, Ed and Dorothy convinced one of their daughters to also give the town a try. As the single mother of growing children, who no longer had a fulltime father at home, Lynn thought living nearer their grandparents could benefit her kids. And, it did. An unexpected benefit of the move to Mt. Pleasant was something that she and her children both needed without realizing it—a man around the house.
Talk about a handy man to have around. Keith Brothersen is one of those guys who has the tools, know-how and patience to repair and build almost anything. After he and Lynn married, and had combined their families together in his home on the east side of Mt. Pleasant, Keith started helping his new in-laws, Ed and Dorothy, with various projects around their place on the other side of town.
Once, after his new mother-in-law kept having him come over with his back hoe to dig up various offending trees and shrubs, he tried to tease her by suggesting, “While I’m here this time, Dorothy, why don’t I just dig up all the rest of the trees and shrubs?” Surprisingly, Dorothy liked his idea. According to Keith, “By the time I was finished that day, the only plant left standing near the home was a lone Lilac bush.”
Incarnation number three, for the wedding-gift home—also known as the retirement-project home—began in 2010, after both of Lynn’s parents had passed. Lynn’s sisters had put her in charge of selling the home, but when no offers were received, the agent said their selling price had to be drastically lowered. Soon after that, Lynn decided that rather than “giving away mom’s dream home for a song,” she would keep it. So, she offered to buy out her sisters, and they agreed.
Now known as the Valentine Carriage house, because of the great replica of a carriage house that Ed Valentine added next door to the historic home, Lynn and Keith now share the old home and new carriage house with paying short-term visitors coming to them from sources like AirBNB.com and VBRBO.com. Both Lynn and Keith see their rental business, at best, as a nearly break-even proposition, with income almost covering expenses and all the labor involved.
From Lynn’s perspective, “It is a full time job to market and clean, so … Keith has borne the brunt of the work, along with my kids, during my overseas deployments and other military duties. The best part, for me, is getting to meet the people who stay here! Some have been truly wonderful.”
The main difficulty Lynn sees—and warns others to consider about the short-term rental business—is that our area is not exactly a hot destination. So, getting enough guests can prove difficult. Lynn also points out that smaller, less expensive places tend to rent more consistently and take less work to keep clean and ready for the next visitors.
“Our place is so big, and such a beast to clean,” says Lynn. As a labor of love, will almost breaking even be good enough to keep her mother’s dream home in God’s country within the family for another generation—and incarnation.
More information can be obtained via email to Valentinecarriagehouse@gmail.com, or snail mail to Valentine Carriage House Info, 391 N 900 E, #84, Mount Pleasant, Utah 84647, or by visiting valentinecarriagehouse.blogspot.com.