Tuesday, December 29, 2009

chimney gunk

Take a good hard look at that picture. A couple weeks ago we started having problems with our furnace shutting off constantly and never really heating properly. After much frustration with the HVAC guys, they finally figured out there was an obstruction on our furnace exhaust pipe. This leads to the utility chimney stack shared with the water heater. Needless to say, it's been (many?) years since this has been cleaned out. It doesn't help that the chimney is unlined -- the pipes only entend a few feet up the stack. Aside from the obvious fire danger, this is also a carbon monoxide danger. It needed to get fixed ASAP.

I called a company that specializes in chimneys to come out and take a look. They gave it a good cleaning and I'm so happy that everything is finally back to normal. Furnace is heating as it should, yay!! In the next few weeks we're going to schedule them to come out again and line the chimney with a flue for both pipes and cap it off. Also considering getting it repointed while I'm at it. Let this be a warning to never assume all your exhaust vents are peachy clean. I know I won't..

Friday, December 11, 2009

McBroom history

I happened to be in the downtown library the other day and did a little research. Still trying to find the specifics of the house like builder/architect, etc. Unfortunately if your house wasn't built by someone prominent (like Henry C. Trost) then you probably aren't going to find anything. Well at least not in the library. I plan to hit the Special Collections at the university sometime in the future. Little by little a picture is forming from the clues though. I uncovered some very interesting info about Joseph H. McBroom, the original owner of this house. As soon as I can get my hands on a scanner, I'll upload images of these articles. In the meantime you'll just have to take my word for it.

El Paso Herald - Oct 10, 1902

Joseph H. McBroom, from Indiana, is the latest addition to the legal fraternity. Yesterday he was admitted to practice in the courts of Texas by Judge Walthall. Mr. McBroom presented credentials from Indiana and the motion for his admission was made by Adolph Heffman. This is the fourth man admitted to the local bar this week.

So now I finally learn a bit of the back story on McBroom. He was in town for a quite a while before he had this house built. I'd love to know where he lived prior to 1914, if it still exists. Many non-hispanic residents of this period were transplants from the midwest of german or irish descent. I had a feeling he might have moved here from the midwest.

El Paso Herald - Oct 22, 1915

City attorney W.B. Ware has resigned his position, effective November 1 and will be succeeded by attorney J.H. McBroom. The resignation was given to the city council at 5 o'clock Thursday evening and was acted upon by the mayor and his councilmen, who selected Mr. McBroom to take attorney Ware's place.
The report that the city attorney would resign has been current for several weeks, as Mr. Ware has stated that his law practice demanded more of his time than he contemplated and that he could not give the city affairs enough time.

The plot thickens. So it appears Mr. McBroom got a promotion round the time this house was built. He had a few weeks lead time, but from my research this house was built in 1914. Maybe he was expecting it before his boss actually gave word. I'm not sure if city attorney means the district attorney. I suppose he could have served in a more general capacity for all legal matters of the city.

El Paso Times - Jan 9, 1956

J. McBroom, Former City Attorney, Dies
Funeral arrangements for Joseph Howard McBroom, 84, who died Sunday in his home, xxxx Elm St, were pending with Harding and Orr Funeral Home.
A resident of El Paso since 1902, McBroom was a retired lawyer and former El Paso city attorney. Having served from 1915 to 1919 and again in 1931.
From 1923 to 1929 he served on the El Paso School Board and at one time was its president. He was a law partner of Walter H Scott and later was associated with Attorney Frank Clayton.
Mr. McBroom was a member of the El Paso Bar Association, First Presbyterian Church, and Kappa Sigma Fraternity.
Born in Monticello, Ill. on Jan. 30, 1871, he was graduated from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ill., in 1897. In 1898 he was admitted to the Indiana Bar.
On Sept. 15, 1954, he and Mrs. McBroom observed their 50th wedding anniversary.
Survivors, in addition to his widow, include a daughter, Mrs. R.P. Langford; two grandchildren, Joseph H. Langford and James M. Langford, all of El Paso; and a sister, Mrs. Emma Humphrey of Illinois.

Whoa, its the biggest helping of house history I've yet uncovered. Where to begin? After starting his career, Mr. McBroom didn't stay in the midwest very long before relocating to El Paso. He seemed to be very involved in his community and a devout family man. I have seen the city directory from 1927 with him still listed at this address. So I'm unsure when he moved to the house on Elm St. The street sounds familiar, I do know it's somewhere in the central area. I'd be very interested to know if his descendants still reside in El Paso. I would love to see some old photos of the house and any other information they would like to share.