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Library presentation covers North Platte’s historic homes

March 11, 2017 GMT

North Platte has a rich history dating back to the mid-1800s, and many homes that were constructed between that time and 1907.

Kaycee Anderson, library researcher and historian, spoke about period homes to a full house Friday at the North Platte Public Library. She took the crowd from the home built by James Belton in 1874 to a home built in 1908 by J.C. Federhoff, who died before he could move into the residence.

Anderson advised the group that the homes currently are all private residences and she would not name the owners.

“Please don’t go knocking on the doors and asking for a tour of the house,” Anderson said. “I don’t want to get into trouble.”

Belton came to North Platte as a coppersmith and built his house at 218 W. Fourth St.

“The house was turned into a hospital in 1912, but apparently Belton still lived in it,” Anderson said. “Belton died in 1915.”

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Later the house was turned into apartments, until 1981 when it became the Thrift Center.

“If his name sounds familiar, his daughter Minnie married William McDonald,” Anderson said.

The McDonald-Belton gymnasium at the South Campus of North Platte Community College is named after the couple.

Anderson shared many interesting stories she has found on some of the homes.

“Anders Kocken emigrated from Sweden in 1865 and he was a tailor,” Anderson said. “He made a lot of Buffalo Bill’s fancy jackets.”

Kocken arrived in North Platte in 1875 and purchased the lot where he built his home at 220 W. Sixth St.

“He started building right away,” Anderson said. “What’s interesting is that he built this one-story brick house in the shape of an L, and when they were putting the roof on the house, a storm came through and the house was struck by lightning.”

There is still a crack going down the wall on the east side of the house from that lightning strike.

Another immigrant was Dr. Nicholas McCabe. He ran away from home in Ireland and came to North Platte in 1874. In 1907 he built the house at 820 W. Fifth St.

“I just found this one a couple of weeks ago,” Anderson said. “This is a super gigantic house.”

A house built by Horace E. Votaw at 1110 W. Fourth St. in 1907 had an interesting basement that no one knew about until recently.

“This is my favorite because it has a weird history to it and I have not been able to find out why,” Anderson said. “I had a lady call me and she said ’We just bought this house, and we want to know the history of the house because there is something really weird about it in the basement.”

Anderson had not been doing house research at the time, but asked for the address and learned it was the Votaw house.

“This might have started my interest in researching historic houses,” Anderson said. “I asked what was weird about the basement and she said ‘There’s two jail cells in the basement.’”

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After doing some searching, Anderson could find nothing that would indicate any reason for the jail cells being in the house. Those particular owners later sold the house, and when Anderson toured it, the jail cells had been removed.

George Field built his home at 502 W. Fifth St. in 1908. He was a partner in a lumber yard. Anderson said Field’s partner in the business pilfered Field’s girlfriend away from him and married her, breaking up the business partnership.

“Then Field later married and finished the house on June 30, 1908,” Anderson said. “He then went to Omaha for furnishings, but came back with a new car instead.”

Because of high interest in this program, the library has scheduled a second presentation on March 30 at 7 p.m.