A Closer Look

Lovejoy 

The Family and the Mansion of Janesville

Story by Teresa Nguyen

March, 2021

Keeping History Alive


On the very day this story of the Lovejoy family was being put together by Janesville Area Stories writer, Teresa Nguyen, she received a message from a Holly Hagen out in Maryland. Holly, a Full-time "cape lady", whose mission is to empower each child to embrace their individual inner strengths, found some extra time on her hands thanks, to the pandemic canceling her Creative Capes craft show venues.

She began taking her genealogy research to a new level last December to paint a detailed picture of her ancestors. Several months later Holly has invested 400 hundred hours exploring her ancestors from the 1800’s to 1930. She is compiling a life story on her great grandfather and then started exploring all his ancestors in Connecticut and Chicago which led her to Julia Lovejoy! Holly's great-grandfather, Edward Stow Hill, was the nephew of Janesville’s Julia. Such incredible synchronicity is astounding!

Holly had in her possession the photo of “The Three Julias”; Julia Stow Lovejoy of Janesville, her daughter Julia Susan Lovejoy Cuniberti and her little one, also named Julia. Additionally, Holly sent Tess some special photos, which she obtained from another relative of Cora May Hill Ranken, who was Julia Stow Lovejoy’s niece. They are photos of Julia Stow Lovejoy’s parents, which were taken in 1894. Janesville Area Stories was generously given permission to use these beautiful photos in this story. What a special gift for our readers!

If Walls Could Talk

Some homes seem like little boxes in line with other duplicate architectural designs along a street, especially in suburbia America. But, a short drive into the heart of the city and one can find the community's original settlement, where its history began, and the splendor of craftsmanship from days of old.
 
Our own downtown historic neighborhood districts are no exception, filled with beautiful, stately homes of magnificent Italianate, Victorian and Queen Anne Revival styles overlooking the Rock River Valley.

The history that unfolded behind those large wooden doors and tall bay windows is fascinating. If the walls, ornate staircases and fireplace mantels could speak, they would tell the stories of successful businessmen, like Allen P. Lovejoy, who arrived in southern Wisconsin with very little from out east, making a name for himself in the business and political community.  
The Lovejoy Mansion on the corner of St. Lawrence Avenue and Division St.
The gorgeous wooden floorboards would tell the secrets of courageous women, like Janesville’s Julia Stow Lovejoy, who stood up to the status quo, leading Rock County’s Women’s Suffrage League in the early 1900s.

This is their story and the story of their majestic home near the top of Courthouse Hill, overlooking the Rock River. May its history, especially the history of its occupants over the years, inspire us all!
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The Lovejoys

1825 - Allen Perry Lovejoy was born in Wayne, Kennebec County, Maine where he was a top student, skilled in mathematics. He eventually learned the carpenter trade before heading west around the age of 25.

1849 - Julia Stow Lovejoy was born in New Haven County, Connecticut to Deacon Henry Webster Stow and Susan Burwell Folliatt Stow. 
Julia’s father, Henry, was a lumber wholesale and retail dealer. He was also the first in America to manufacture wheels for vehicles at the New Haven Wheel Company.
 
Henry was also a Deacon for 68 years in the First Baptist Church, now Calvary Church in New Haven, and lived to the age of 90. 
A New Life in Janesville

1850 - Allen Perry Lovejoy moved to Janesville, Wisconsin when the population was only around 2000 residents. He worked for a couple of years in Beloit and then returned to Janesville in 1853 to work as a carpenter and builder.
Allen Perry Lovejoy
Around 1860 - Mr. Lovejoy opened a lumberyard in Janesville and invested in other businesses in the area becoming quite successful. He became the director of several Lovejoy & Richards lumber companies, plus Merrill Lumber Company, Red Cliff Lumber Company, and U.S. Lumber Co., purchasing various pine land areas. 
Allen also became the president of First National Bank in Janesville and was a stockholder in the Cotton Mill and the Monterey Flour Mill as well as other businesses. Allen also partnered in a number of farms around the county.

1875 - Fire broke out at Harris Manufacturing Co., formerly Rock River Iron Works, on South Franklin Street. James Harris partnered with Allen P. Lovejoy to rebuild what became Janesville Machine Co. and Allen became president of the company. Near the turn of the century, it was sold to General Motors, starting a nearly 100-year long legacy of auto manufacturing in Janesville, Wisconsin. 

Meeting Julia Stow

1880 - On May 29, 1880, Allen P. Lovejoy married Ms. Julia Isbell Stow, who was a young school teacher at the time.
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Susan Burwell Folliatt Stow
Julia Stow Lovejoy's mother
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Deacon Henry Webster Stow - 1894
Julia Stow Lovejoy's father
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Julia Susan Lovejoy
Together they had four children; Henry Stow Lovejoy (1885–1960), Julia Susan Lovejoy Cuniberti (1888–1987), Webster Ellis Lovejoy (1891–1892) and Allen Perry Lovejoy (1892–1918).
Their Daughter, Julia Susan

The Lovejoys’ daughter, Julia Susan Lovejoy, graduated from Vassar College in New York in 1911 and became a social worker, working at Hull House in Chicago. 

There, she met Fernando Cuniberti, who was the Executive Director of Juvenile Protective Association at Hull House. They were introduced by the founder of Hull House, Jane Addams. 

After World War I, the couple moved out to Washington, D.C., where Fernando became President of International Exchange Bank.
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The Three Julias in 1929 - Julia Stow Lovejoy (right), her daughter, Julia Susan Lovejoy Cuniberti (left), and her daughter, Julia Cuniberti - Photo courtesy of Holly Hagen
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The Cuniberti Home in Washington D.C.
Photo courtesy of Jared L. Sawyers
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Julia Susan and Fernando Cuniberti
Photo courtesy of Jared L. Sawyers
The Butler’s Julia

Last month, a Washington, D.C. man named Jared L. Sawyers reached out to Janesville Area Stories with a photo of Julia Stow Lovejoy, the same “Three Julias” photo that Tess later received from Holly Hagen. Jared, upon researching his own family's history, had received the copy of the photo from Julia Stow Lovejoy's granddaughter, Julia Cuniberti. He then shared his own interesting connection to this Janesville family.

The Cunibertis had a hired butler, Charles Hooper Haynes, and his wife’s mother, Rebecca Kelly Harris, had worked for the Cunibertis, as well. 

When the butler and his wife were expecting, Julia Susan Lovejoy Cuniberti told the butler that if he named his baby Julia, she would buy the baby’s layette set. Well, that little baby, Julia M. Haynes DeBose, went on to have her own family.
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Julia M. Haynes DeBose
Jared's great-grandmother
Her great-grandson, Jared, is the one who reached out to Janesville Area Stories from D.C. He also gave permission to share the wonderful photos of Julia’s granddaughter, as well as the photo of the home of Julia Susan Lovejoy and Mr. Fernando Cuniberti. 

It was an amazing stroke of luck to coincidentally receive contact from Holly on the day Tess was putting the story together and then to receive the butler’s family connection from Jared and his photos, as well!
 
As Jared put it,
 
“It was just supposed to happen. God aligns us with people and places at just the right time.”
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Julia Stow Lovejoy's granddaughter, Julia Cuniberti
with Jared L. Sawyers in 2014

When Julia Cuniberti was nearly 90 years old, Jared visited Julia and they exchanged stories. Mrs. Cuniberti's memory was still quite good and she recalled that Jared's great-great-grandfather, "Haynes", as they called him, was a quiet, positive and very helpful man.

 

Julia's father, Fernando Cuniberti, had retired in 1940 and he and Julia Susan moved to a farm in Maryland where he raised Aberdeen Angus cattle. 

Meanwhile, Back in Janesville…


1881 - A gorgeous home, at 220 St. Lawrence Ave in Janesville, was built for Mr. Allen P. Lovejoy and his wife Julia Stowe Lovejoy. According to Janesville’s historic tour guide, “Roaming Rich” Fletcher, the home was designed in the Queen Anne style, though it does seem to have some Eastlake Victorian features, which tend to be more angular than curvy. It is somewhat unusual, being brick, with wood as the ornamentation. Many homes were quite elaborately built in this time period. Rich remarked how this historic home truly stands out when looking eastward from the west side of the river downtown.


The over 6,500-square-foot house, with 11 ft. ceilings, maple, oak and walnut wood floors, marble hexagon tile and decorative, ornate exterior pieces, was designed by James Douglas of Milwaukee. 

1881 - 1882 - Allen was quite politically minded, coming from a family of abolitionists, and served as Janesville’s Mayor during these years. He was faithful to the interests of the city, holding progressive ideas regarding public improvements for Janesville.

1883 - Dr. Henry Palmer, a Civil War surgeon general, helped found a local hospital, later renamed Palmer Memorial Hospital, which was operated by his son, Dr. William Palmer. Soon after it was bought by the Sisters of Mercy of Chicago who renamed it Palmer Memorial Mercy Hospital. It was Julia Lovejoy who sponsored Janesville’s first hospital, started by Dr. Palmer and the Sisters of Mercy, located out of a home on Mineral Point. 

1887 - 1889 - Allen Lovejoy served in the Wisconsin State Senate.
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Palmer Memorial Hospital of Janesville, which later evolved into Mercy Health System
1904 - Allen Perry Lovejoy Sr. died at the age of 78.
 
1912 - A woman of strong convictions, Julia Stow Lovejoy became the first president of the newly formed Rock County Women’s Suffrage League.

Julia devoted her years in Janesville to social and educational support for women and children and established the first Janesville kindergarten. She was involved in The Women’s Club, organized the local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and served on the Janesville Public Library Board for several years. Julia was a remarkable, compassionate community leader.

1953 - Mrs. Julia Isbell Stow Lovejoy lived in the Lovejoy mansion until her death in 1953.  She was 103 years old.
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The YWCA

The YWCA needed larger quarters. Meanwhile, local businessman, James A. Craig, strongly supported youth activities in the area and acquired the home of the late Allen P. and Julia Stow Lovejoy at 220 St. Lawrence Ave.  Mr. Craig then donated the large home to the YWCA of Rock County, which was housed there until May 2001. How fitting that the home of a lady who stood up for the rights of women would one day be used for an organization to help women and their children in so many ways!

1955 - The expansive Lovejoy house was remodeled and opened to the public in January. Grace Hall, a one-story connected wing, was added to house a recreation room and snack bar for Swing Lobby that was started by Mrs. Rost and her son, Dick in memory of a son killed in service. The addition was built to expand the space for the YWCA and included a ballroom used for the teen dances and for other special events, like Halloween parties and dances. 
The YWCA held a wide variety of activities for the community’s youth and many Janesvillians today recall spending countless hours at the Y on St. Lawrence.
The Lovejoys are buried at Oakhill Cemetery in Janesville, WI
The rooms on the first floor were used for a variety of art classes, such as painting, pottery or crochet class, karate, guitar lessons, ballet and tap dance classes and even babysitting classes.
The YWCA also held day camp there and a “Y Teens Club” for middle school kids. There were week trips to Camp Rotamer, creating all sorts of fun for the youth in our area.

Important Social Services

However, not all was fun and games. The after-school programs provided a place to go for children of many working mothers and another program, SAM (School Age Mothers) provided assistance and guidance for pregnant teens. 
1978 - Louise and Hiram Nowlan presented the YWCA with the generous gift of the deed to their home at 202 St. Lawrence Ave., which was located next door to the YWCA at the Lovejoy home. It served as a battered women’s shelter called Safe House for Women.
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A plaque placed at the home's front entrance when the property became the YWCA.
The “Alternatives Program” began as a helpline and a shelter for abused women and their children. The purpose of the program was not only to take them in and protect them from abusers, but also to give the women an alternative lifestyle and options to help get their feet on the ground. This program still exists today at the YWCA Rock County.
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1993 - The CARE House was built on Conde Street in Janesville and served as the first, and Rock County’s only, child advocacy center in Wisconsin.

2001 - The YWCA Rock County moved from the Lovejoy House and the Nowlan/Merrill House to its current location on South Washington Street.

The YWCA continues its mission of social service to women of the community. The YWCA acts as an advocacy group for women’s issues in Rock County and is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
New Love for the Lovejoy Home 

Between 2002 and 2009, the home had been poorly remodeled by its previous owner, a religious foundation, which nearly ruined the house. The bank then foreclosed on its mortgage in 2009.

2013 - Charles and Rebecca Cooner purchased the home in 2013 and pledged to restore the Victorian era beauty to its former splendor! Rebecca is an art historian and is excited about the restorations, which she and Charles have been working diligently on over the last eight years. An amazing exterior transformation is already visible and they continue their extensive work on the interior of the home.
The Lovejoy home is being restored by its current owners, Charles and Rebecca Cooner
The home is on the National Register of Historic Places (1980), and has been on the Historic Walk of Homes tour.
 
You can see the home on the Roam Around Tours’ local Historic Walking Tour of Courthouse Hill with "Roaming Rich" Fletcher.
 
 
Sources:
Wisconsin Historical Society
Portrait and biographical album of Rock County, Wisconsin – Library of Congress
https://thoroglove.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/a-family-home-built-in-1881
ywcarockcounty.org
findagrave.com
commons.wikimedia.org
Holly Hagen
Jared L. Sawyers
Rich Fletcher