The North Bend Eagle


Byrd house
Eric and Kim Byrd, shown with daughter Jenna, will be fixing up this house after moving it across the street from its current location east of North Bend Elementary.

1930 house with history is on the move

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 11/5/14

The house that sat east of North Bend Elementary School is moving. But not very far. It will move across the street, to the corner lot at 11th and Boxelder streets.

Eric and Kim Byrd were the only bidders on the house currently sitting on property that was recently purchased by North Bend Central Public Schools. What it will become is still up in the air. It may be an investment, a rental property or even their home— the Byrds will see what the year brings.

They are approaching it now as their future home, with daughter Jenna, a seventh grader at NBC, already making plans for her room.

A former resident of the house, Mary Robinson, thought the land was first owned by a Kraus (no ending ‘e’). In 1904 a Krause (with an ‘e’) family purchased the ground, which was 47 acres at the time. The Byrds have records showing that the house was built in 1930.

In 1944 Joe and Jane Pacas bought the 47 acres and house. But rather than moving in, Jane’s parents, Marion and Una Avery, moved off the family farm east of North Bend into the house. The Pacas family, including daughters Mary and Lillian who married a pair of brothers named Robinson.

Mary Robinson remembers going to the house for lunch when she and her sister were in high school.

“When bad storms came we would stay at our grandparents, sleeping upstairs in a bed with a feather tick,” she said. “You would sink down into it.”

After the grandparents died, the house was rented to a Perrin family.
Lillian and Earl Robinson lived in California for a year then moved back to Nebraska in 1962, settling into the house that at the time stood next to both the elementary school and high school. They had their fourth child, daughter Wauneta, after moving into the house.

From 1966 until 1974, Lil operated Blue Bell Preschool in the home.

“Classes were held on the main level of the house,” Lil’s daughter Wauneta Kempf said. “We did activities in the dining room. If you were naughty you had to sit on the steps to upstairs.”

Joe Pacas died in 1973. Jane moved a double-wide trailer to the east of the house to live in. Kempf remembers her grandmother always had a big garden, chickens and sometimes ducks.

Jim Robinson, one of Mary’s sons, remembers going to the house for holidays. He remembers the staircase that had a double entry, one from the kitchen and one from the front door area.

“We went up to the third floor on a walk-up ladder,” Jim Robinson said. “There was what us kids called an ‘Indian look’ where we would play games.”

Kempf recalls riding on banana boxes down the two-way stairs.

The family built on a garage, and Wauneta, her mom and her step-dad moved lived in the garage in September 1981 until April 1982 while major remodeling in the house was done by Jerry Hall. Kempf said closets with folding doors were built in, electric baseboard heat replaced the old water heaters, the steps from the kitchen were taken to enlarge the kitchen and a bathroom, among other updates. Kempf said that they did all the painting and staining them selves. She was the only one still at home (though her sister and her two children did live with them in the garage for a while) and had to help out getting the house ready for her graduation.

Lil continued to live there after her divorce from Earl in the late ‘60s. She later married Henry Oestmann and moved to Oregon in 2014 when they sold the house to North Bend Central.

The school has no specific plans for the land, which is down to 14 acres, but moving the house off the site was a priority. Ads were put out requesting bids. Superintendent Dan Endorf said that there were a number of people interested, but only one submitted a bid.

The Byrds are the new owners of the house, now located at 540 East 11th. They plan to move it across the street as soon as the foundation is ready. Eric Byrd is the facilities manager at Moses Merrill Camp and Conference Center and does tax preparation in the winter. Kim substitutes at NBC. They have lived in a house on the Moses Merrill grounds for the past three and a half years.

The Byrds have previously lived in Valparaiso and Wahoo where they finished a prefab house. This is the first ‘old’ house they have lived in.

“I liked the floor plan and the size of the rooms,” Kim Byrd said. “It has a large kitchen and two bathrooms. And I love the front porch.”

The Byrds plan to do most of the remodeling themselves. They hope to have the foundation poured in November, remove trees to facilitate moving and be ready to move the house by April.

They will take a year to remodel the house. Their four children, Paula, a recent graduate of University of Nebraska Medical and a RN at the Saunders County Heath Center, Tanner, a ‘13 graduate of NBC and student at University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Jenna and Travis, a fifth grader at NBE; will help as they can.

The Byrds are really excited about the challenge.

“It has lots of potential.”


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