L.V. Woods Home
By Allene Maloney
The fire at Laredo on Sunday, Feb. 23, destroyed the home of Bill and Darlene Beverlin. Unlike the fire that destroyed the Darby home in Spickard recently, no lives were lost and the fire happened during the day so someone quickly notified the fire department. Unfortunately, the fire was already too widespread for the mansion to be saved.
But like the Darby house at Spickard, the L.V. Woods three-story home was the largest house ever built in Laredo on six lots and was over 100 years old. It was built by Charles H. Cook, father of Sarah Catherine Cook, who married L.V. Woods in 1887.
Mr. Cook was born on May 31, 1833, in Maryland and moved to Grundy County when 21, purchasing 1,000 acres of land for 75 cents an acre at Lindley and made the first of his fortune at farming and merchandising. He married Nancy Elizabeth Dobbins in February 1859. In 1885, they moved to Trenton, built the big brick mill on College Avenue and engaged in milling and banking for 20 years. He was one of the principal stockholders and officers of the Trenton National Bank and the Cook & Vencill Bank at Galt. For two years, he served the city as mayor. In 1905, Mr. and Mrs. Cook moved from their beautiful residence in Trenton to the quietude of their big Lindley farm where he died on June 4, 1910 before the house in Laredo was completed in 1913. Mrs. Cook died on Sept. 17, 1925, in Laredo.
Larkin Vaughn Woods was born near Laredo on Sept. 2, 1863. He attended the old Humphreys College and Gem City Business College at Quincy, IL. He taught schools for a time, but always had farming interest. L.V. was married June 5, 1887 to Kate Cook and established a hardware store in Laredo. On Oct. 22, 1891, twins Charles and Ruth were born. After selling the store in 1896, he assisted his father-in-law in running a flour mill in Trenton.
Two years later, the family moved back to Laredo, where he accepted the position of cashier of the Commercial Bank, which he helped organize. He was the first city clerk and held the office for a large part of his life. He operated his farm, an insurance and real estate office, was a notary public and justice of peace for many years. He died on Jan. 14, 1942 at age 79. In 1944, his widow moved to Denver to live with her daughter, Ruth. She died on March 27, 1958, in Denver.
When I was born in Laredo in 1927, my dad, Truman Maloney, owned a truck and cut and hauled wood from the L.V. Woods farm to their home for the fireplace. In 1933, we moved to a farm two miles northwest of Laredo and dad still went to the Woods farm to cut wood and haul it into Laredo with horse and wagon.
In 1937, dad drove a school bus into Laredo and, after delivering the students to school, he went by the Woods home, stoked the furnace and removed the clinkers. In the afternoons, he again stoked the furnace and removed the clinkers before picking up the students. L.V. would have been 74 years old. In the winter, when we went to Laredo on Saturday evenings for mother to do her trading (exchange eggs and cream for flour, sugar and kerosene), dad would stop by the Woods home to take care of the furnace. We would stay in the car, parked under the huge portico (built to accommodate horsedrawn carriages) while dad dashed in a side door to the basement to prepare the furnace for the night.
Everyone who grew up in or near Laredo has fond memories of the Woods home at 215 W. Main. Roberta (Owens) Brick remembers her mother telling of a special closet for storing fur coats and the ballroom on the third floor. Mary Ann (McClain) Stalder remembers the beautiful lawn and huge trees that also shaded the sidewalk so children riding their bikes enjoyed the shade on hot summer afternoons. In the spring, the blooming redbud trees and spirea bushes added to the beauty.
Anna Lou (Mack) Martin’s grandparents, William H. and Lula Paramore, moved into the house in 1946, when they traded their 160-acre farm north of Dunlap to Edward W. Thomas and wife for the house on Main Street, 60 acres of farm land north of town and two buildings downtown in Laredo. Ed Thomas had bought the properties in 1944. In 1960, when the Paramores’ health was failing, the house was sold to William E. and Mildred Larson. The Larsons sold to Jackie Keller in 1974 and it was sold on the courthouse steps in Trenton to Joel F. and Cyndee Chrisman in 1982. The Beverlins became the owners in 1995. These dates were confirmed by Carolyn Whitney of Best Abstract & Title Co.
Ms. Martin tells that as a teenager she was awe-stricken each time her family visited the home. The front door opened to a broad hallway leading to a large stairway to the second floor. On either side of the hallway were open entries to rooms. The one on the right was a large room that probably was L.V.’s office and library. To the left was the grand living room with a high ceiling decorated with beautiful paintings of flowers and leaves in a circular pattern around the chandelier. In the northwest corner of the room was a magnificent fireplace and to the right of the fireplace were huge double doors opening into the formal dining room. Straight down the hallway from the front door and past the stairway was the kitchen area. This large room was where most of the family informal gatherings were held. From the kitchen was a servant’s special stairway to the second floor and a door to the enclosed porch.
Along the north side of the property was a garage and a chicken house. The garage could be entered by a driveway from the street along the west side of the estate, or the driveway that continued around the house from the portico on the east side.
Since 1944, the Woods house has changed ownership six times, but is still the L.V. Woods mansion to us. Laredo, like Spickard, will never be the same after the loss of these beautiful and grand houses.
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