CLEARFIELD — When Jacki Challis drove through a subdivision to avoid a road closure, she came to an intersection and saw a house with a “For Sale” sign in the front yard.
New siding had recently been put on the little blue cottage, which stood out from the other homes in the area.
“I called my sister-in-law, who is a real estate agent, and told her ‘I’ve just seen the house I want to live in for the rest of my life,’ ” Jacki said.
Without ever going through the house they sat in front of it and wrote up an offer to purchase it.
“I could see potential,” said Jacki, even though she had never been inside.
But two months before they bought the home her husband Eric Challis had been in the kitchen.
“I came to give them a bid to redo the floor, but it was too big of a job for me,” said Eric. “I ended up redoing it anyway.”
That was four years ago, now Jacki and Eric Challis are the proud owners of the home that was built in 1900 by prominent Clearfield residents Thomas and Priscilla May Flitton.
According to the book “Our Home Town, Clearfield (1877 to 1997): A Clearfield History” compiled by Linda Mabey, Thomas Flitton was born in 1857 in Bedfordshire, England. When Flitton was 11 years old he and his family sailed to the United States from Liverpool arriving in August 1868. They traveled by rail from New York City to Laramie, Wyo., and from there they pulled a handcart to Salt Lake City, where they lived before moving to Kaysville.
Thomas and Priscilla May Flitton were married on February 19, 1889 and in 1900 they moved to Syracuse Junction, which later became Clearfield. They had six children when they purchased just over two acres of land near the Weber-Davis Canal.
They built a two-room house with a sun porch on the land and planted a walnut tree, which grew to be nicknamed “Old Landmark.”
Their daughter Elmina, who was lovingly called Minie, lived in the home until her death.
Elmina (Minie) gave birth to her son Keith Goble in 1934 and raised him in the home. Elmina and her sister Emma were close as children and remained close as adults. Emma and her husband Wilford built a house next to the Flitton home and Elmina and Emma raised their children together.
Many additions were made to the home including a room on the east side of the home which is a step up from the kitchen. The worn threshold hints that it must have been used often.
Jacki and Eric use this room as a guest room, decorating it in beach house style.
Although it took hours of work, Eric and Jacki made the tiny house into a delightful home. Eric’s talents as a handyman were put to good use as a thorough cleaning, moving some walls and totally gutting the bathroom took hours of labor.
Eric constructed an open archway where once there was a door between what is now the living room and dining room. When moving walls he found several layers, made of rock, adobe brick, lath and plaster with sheetrock on top. Because of the thick walls heating and cooling costs are kept to a minimum.
“This is heaven in the summer,” said Jacki, referring to the coolness of the home not needing air conditioning.
Covered chimneys, scattered throughout the home, are evidence of stoves or fireplaces that were once there. According to information from a book on the history of Clearfield, the house was originally heated by a wood-burning stove. For cooking, the Flitton family used a stove in the kitchen, where both wood and coal were burned.
When Jacki and Eric were restoring the old home they found a box mounted at eye level on the wall next to the stove. They imagined some kind of treasure could be hidden there. But when Eric opened the box soot poured out and blanketed him and everything around him.
The Challis’s left the wallpaper on the walls in some rooms and kept the curtains in the living room.
“I love other people’s junk,” Jacki said.
Kerosene lamps were used in the home for lighting until electricity was installed in 1919. After years of carrying water from a well in the back yard in 1925 running water was brought into the home.
According to the history book, the Flitton family raised fruits and vegetables in the garden near the house. They also had farm animals. Much of the harvest was bottled and stored in one of the cellars.
Eric and Jacki were surprised to find four separate cellars under the house. Two are accessed from inside. They found old fruit bottles as well as some old canned vegetables.
“There were tons and tons of bottles and cans, a 1958 can of carrots rattled,” Jacki said.
“Mulberry Cottage” on a sign hanging from the ceiling of the front porch now greets visitors. It is a testament to the large mulberry tree that grows in the yard as well as the wine Eric makes from the sweet berries.
The sun room has been turned into a computer room. The dining room still hosts family parties. And Eric and Jacki have their own garden with lots of flowers.
“I love to come home to this. It is warm and cozy,” Jacki said.