This story was originally published in the Bismarck Tribune on July 2, 1981. By GLORIA FEICKERT, Bismarck Tribune
Hiran R. and Pauline Meech Lyons in 1902 hired a New York architect to build a home in a thriving frontier town.
They knew what they wanted: a combination of a Greek temple and a Southern plantation, with large massive pillars along the front and a porte-cochere, the French term for a carriage driveway.
The result was one of the grandest homes to be built in Mandan.
The home, at 309 Fourth Ave. N.W., is on property originally owned by the old Northern Pacific Railroad and purchased by Lyons in 1891. The house was completed in 1904.
After passing through six other owners and now partially converted to a funeral home, the home remains one of Mandan's landmarks.
It reportedly was the largest home of Greek architecture in North Dakota.
Because of the protecting roof built on one side, visitors were able to get out of their vehicles without fear of getting wet from rain or snow. The Lyonses had the distinction of having possibly the only coachman in the city.
The foundation of the home is field rock, some 2½ feet thick. The studding in the frame is covered with lath and plaster, both inside and out.
A tongue-in-groove sub-siding was constructed in a diagonal pattern on the outside wall to give strength and prevent sagging, according to historical records. This was then covered with cedar siding. All of the wood was handcut, and much of it had been special ordered.
Lyons came to Mandan in 1881 and had been with the banking industry in St. Paul, Minn., before becoming one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Mandan. He first served as cashier and later became president.
During his 25 years in Mandan, Lyons founded the Mandan Mercantile Co. and organized the Missouri Valley Milling Co., later known as Russell-Miller Milling Co.
His other business interests included raising sheep, serving as president of the Mandan Electric Co. and seven country banks and helping set up the North Dakota Independent Telephone Co.
The Lyonses lived in the home only a few years; in 1907, they moved to Minneapolis. A lion's head at the front door of the home serves as a reminder of this early day businessman.
The home was sold in 1907 to Mr. and Mrs. George Bingenheimer. Bingenheimer was a Morton County treasurer and sheriff, and he founded Bingenheimer Mercantile Co.
He was also a federal marshal in the late 1890s, an Indian agent at Fort Yates and builder of the Mandan Library and Mandan Hospital, contributing to many local causes with visions of Mandan growing into a large city.
Bingenheimer and his brother, Fred, started Mandan's first drugstore, which today is Taylor Drug. Shortly after her husband's death in 1920, Mrs. Bingenheimer sold the house to John Sullivan, a well-known local attorney. He and his wife, Nan, entertained at dinner parties in the home at an oak table large enough to seat 20 guests.
In 1944 the home was sold to John and Mary Kennelly. He was a native of Mandan and with his brother, Cleve, owned and operated the Kennelly Furniture Store and Funeral Home. In 1951, they moved to Fargo.
Paul Schaff, who ranched south of Mandan and operated an implement business in Mandan, owned the home from 1951 to 1956 before selling to Mr. and Mrs. Hector Hoenig, who had come to Mandan from Minnesota.
Hoenig, who had been in the funeral business for many years, remodeled the main floor into a funeral home, and there is living quarters upstairs. The Hoenigs retired and moved back to Minnesota.
The home was purchased in 1975 by Tom and Kathy Weigel, the present owners. The Weigels added 1,700 square feet to the north side of the home, following its original architectural design.