• Pink flowers blossom in the garden of a white two-room cottage.

    Herbert Hoover

    National Historic Site Iowa

House of the Maples

A lone maple tree grows on the land, where the Hoover family's second home once stood. The one-acre parcel, on the corner of Downey and Cedar streets, had a two-story frame house with two chimneys. Maple trees lined the front yard and a wild crabapple tree grew in back of the spacious four-room home.

 
Black and white photograph of a woman in simple 19th century dress in front of a two-story frame house. The house is surrounded by a wood rail fence and swing gate. Tall maple trees on the left and a chicken coop or privy in the back yard.
Hulda Hoover stands in front of the Hoover's second home in a photograph taken from Downey Street around 1882.
Herbert Hoover NHS Collection
 
A brown metal sign faces a young maple tree on green lawn.

Nothing remains of the "House of the Maples". An interpretive sign and a young maple tree mark the lot where it stood.

Herbert Hoover NHS collection

Life was good for the young couple and their three children. At age thirty-three, Jesse Hoover had become a successful businessman. Ready to take on new challenges, he sold his blacksmith shop and bought a large farm implement store on Main Street. Like any hard-working husband, Jesse wanted to use his improved economic fortunes to provide for the comforts of his family.

In March of 1879, Jesse purchased the House of the Maples at auction for $140. It had, he said, "rooms big enough to swing a cat in." On May 27th of that year, the family moved their belongings out of the tiny cottage Jesse had lovingly built. Their spacious new house had an actual parlor and a modern little oil stove. A four-board whitewashed fence with a swinging picket gate framed the front yard. In the summer, they would catch lightning bugs. In the winter, they'd sled down nearby Cook's hill as Hulda watched with her heart in her mouth. It was this house, and not the cottage that would hold the most memories for the Hoover children… both good and bad.

On December 13, 1880, nineteen months after moving into the House of the Maples, Jesse Hoover died in his upstairs bedroom from rheumatism of the heart. Herbert "Bertie" Hoover was only six years old. His mother, Hulda bravely kept the family together by carefully managing the money from Jesse's business holdings and by taking in sewing and an occasional boarder.

But death would come to visit the House of the Maples once more. On February 24, 1884, at the age of 35, Hulda Hoover died from typhoid fever. Tad had just turned 13, Bertie was 9, and May was 7. The three children, now orphans, were separated and sent to live with relatives. It would be twelve years before they would be together again, this time in California—2,000 miles from their childhood Iowa home.

 

 

Take a Virtual Tour

This is a stop on the virtual tour of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.

« Friends Meetinghouse Cry Room | P.T. Smith House »

Did You Know?

A game of Hooverball on the White House lawn.

President Hoover's doctor designed an athletic game to keep him fit. "Hooverball" is similar to volleyball, but scored like tennis. Players heave a six-pound medicine ball over the net. More...