A.G. COLLINS HOUSE - 136 North 5th Street
Hebron’s population grew dramatically in the 1880s, from 500 in 1880 to 1500 by 1890. The period was marked by a building boom. Along with commercial buildings, a new high school, and a new jail, large and elegant residences were also being built.
The Andrew Gordon Collins house is an example of this new, permanent residential
construction. Built in 1889 for the owner of the First National Bank, its native limestone foundation and pressed-brick exterior enclosed rooms finished with carved oak woodwork and
stained glass windows.
Converted to apartments in the 1940s, the house has been carefully restored in recent years.
A number of Hebron’s larger, and most historic, homes were converted into apartments to house personnel assigned to the Bruning Army Airfield and the Hebron P.O.W. camp. Inevitably, some changes and losses have proven irreversible. The Collins house lost its beautiful stained glass windows when the house was used as a day-care facility, before being acquired by Henry and Annette Laber, who have restored as many of its features as possible, especially the wrap-around porch, which had been removed during the 1940s remodel.
A. G. Collins came to Hebron with his first wife, Rosa, when, at the age of 35, he bought controlling interest in the First National Bank, located about half a block south of the house. Rosa died in August, 1886, leaving Mr. Collins a widower with three small children, one of whom also died very young. He married his second wife, Rebecca Arthur, prior to building the house.
The house’s similarity in materials to the First Presbyterian Church next door is no coincidence. A.G. and Rebecca were life-long supporters and promoters of the church, and he was instrumental in the construction of the church building, so much so that a narrow sidewalk leading from the kitchen at the rear of the house to the kitchen at the southeast corner of the church is known as “Mrs. Collins’ sidewalk.” The church’s windows are of identical material and construction to the house’s missing windows and undoubtedly came from the same artisan’s shop, thought to have been in Italy.