The Sukle family has begun the task of rehabilitating the exterior of the historic Hammond House located at the corner of 2nd and Main in Delta.
The wrap-around porch has been stabilized and pushed back against the house.
The brick exterior and the foundation have been rehabilitated, and a new roof has been installed. Inside, the electrical and plumbing systems will be updated but the beautiful woodwork is in excellent condition, Tim Sukle reports. The historic home was in the Hammond family for more than 90 years, and because it was occupied by two elderly spinster sisters for many years, it never suffered the damaging effects of young children or boisterous teens.
Laid off from Boeing during the economic downturn, Tim Sukle is making good use of his time by heading the family’s efforts in the 100 block of Main Street. Also in the works is renovation of the building at the corner of Highways 92 and 50. The old Corner Liquors store will be divided into two retail units, one of which has been leased to a “nationally recognized” retailer, Sukle says.
The Hammond House will also be available for commercial use. The Sukles hope to see the building occupied by one or more professional offices, specialty retail or even a restaurant.
The historic home has a prominent location on Delta’s Main Street, and is one of the few in town which has seen minimal alterations during its 110-year history. It was actually the second house erected by Henry Hammond on the property. He built a small home after marrying Margaret Davis in 1884. He added on to the house in 1887.
The home which he subsequently constructed in 1900 features a multi-planed roof, a corner turret and a veranda-like porch which is distinguished by an ornately carved pediment with the initial “H” in the leaf motif. (The pediment is the triangular area set into the roof.) The roof is covered with scalloped, hexagonal shingles on the gable ends and was once adorned with wrought iron fencing along the gables, which was believed to keep witches from landing on the roof. The home has six bedrooms and one bathroom.
Margaret Hammond died in 1895 and Henry Hammond remarried in 1898. Mary Elizabeth (Harrington) Hammond bore five children, but two of them (both girls) died before their second birthday.
In 1934 Henry put the house in his wife’s name. Following Henry’s death at the age of 85 in 1940, Mary transferred the property to the three surviving children, William, Alene and Genevieve. Genevieve, who never married, was the last Hammond to live in the home. She occupied the home until her death in 1994, when the property was acquired by longtime friends and close neighbors, John and Helen Sukle.
Helen recalls that the Hammonds opened their home to boarders to supplement their income. And because Genevieve and Alene never had children, they loved to bring the younger Sukle kids gifts when they went to Denver.
Jim Sukle, who now operates Modern Appliance between the two historic homes, remembers trick-or-treating at the Hammond House. Alene loved to dress up as a witch. With the tall lilac bushes blocking the light from the street, kids approached the house with more than a little trepidation.
In February 1890, Henry Hammond built a white picket fence on two sides of the property. The improvement caught the attention of the Delta Independent who informed the community that the “tasty picket fence . . . adds to the attractiveness of his place.”
The picket fence became historically significant when Fred McCarty, the bank robber, was shot off his horse in September 1893 and died against the fence, leaving blood on the pickets which the Hammonds claimed would not wash off.
Jim Sukle says Genevieve told him that she and Alene picked up the “loot” which had been scattered up and down the alley.
The building has been vacant since Genevieve’s death in 1994. The home began to deteriorate in the 1980s as Genevieve aged. In 2003 the property was registered on the City of Delta’s Local Register of Historic Properties as the Henry H. Hammond house. Despite its neglected appearance, it still dominated the corner with its unique architecture.
Hammond farmed 160 acres five miles south of town, and is credited with building the first ditch for irrigation purposes. In company with neighboring landowners Frank Burkhart and Ed Cappron, he built a ditch two miles long from the Uncompahgre River to irrigate their land. In 1883, Henry sold his ranch to Fred Beaudry and moved to the infant town of Delta, where he started a livery barn and ran a stage line which carried mail between Delta, Hotchkiss and Paonia. He later started a harness business and bought and managed a number of different ranches. He also served a short term as Delta County undersheriff.
Hammond had a real love of blooded horses and built a race track on his ranch which was used for local entertainment. The Delta Independent reported in January 1895, “A fairly good crowd witnessed the races at Hank Hammond’s track in North Delta yesterday. Clarence Mower’s Ella was the winner.”
A rear extension was added to the original home. It consisted of a single story, while the main house has two stories. The date of the addition is unknown but a 1931 Sanborn insurance map shows an attic added to the extension.
An original two-story barn outbuilding on the alley seems to have been replaced some time before 1931 with a larger 1 1/2-story stable outbuilding at the corner of the alley and Second Street. In the early 1950s the stable was replaced with a modern garage.
The Hammond House is the second home on the block to receive historic designation from the city. The first has been owned by the Sukles themselves since John and Helen arrived in Delta in 1949. Their home at 144 Main was built in 1895 by Robert F. Williams, a grocery merchant.
His store occupied the south half of the new Delta County Bank building (now occupied by Last Chance Eatery).
Williams was a town alderman when he built his new home at 144 Main Street. He owned the house until his death in 1935, when it passed to his heirs, Hattie and Roy Perry. In 1949, the property, which now included the north half of the adjoining lot, was sold to John and Helen Sukle.
When they first moved in, Helen Sukle said the house was a mess. Soot from a coal stove covered the walls and woodwork. “It took me about three years to get all that soot off,” she said.
The gas cooking stove was so filthy John took it apart and carried it out to the yard piece by piece, to soak it in lye water. Genevieve and Alene watched all this activity closely, and the four adults soon became good friends.
John Sukle operated Modern Appliance in that house. For 20 years, Helen says, the front room was occupied by refrigerators and wringer washers. At one point John painted the porch dark green, a color he felt would be a good contrast for the appliances he displayed outside. “I was so embarrassed I didn’t want to go outside and let people see who lived here,” Helen said.
John eventually expanded into kitchen appliances and radios. When televisions came on the market, John took a correspondence course so he’d understand how they operated when he added them to his inventory.
For 15 years the Hammond House sat vacant while the Sukles faithfully paid the property taxes and kept the lawn watered during the summer. It was a real drain on family finances, Helen said, so she’s “tickled to death” to see her six kids — Dan, Bob, Jim, Sherri, Tim and Mike — working together to renovate the house. “I’m so proud of my children,” she said.
The project has also involved Brian Renfrow of Buckhorn Geotech, who engineered a concealed steel beam to straighten out the turret; architect Phil Motley of Motley Architecture and Design in Montrose; and Julie Wolverton, landscape architect who created a landscape plan that will reflect the historic landscaping of the home.
The information for this article was provided by Jim Wetzel, curator of the Delta County Museum; “Impressive Men of Western Colorado,” a book published in 1905 by A.W. Bowen & Co. of Chicago, Ill.; and the Sukle family.
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