Green Leaf History
Opened for business as a bed and breakfast in 2007 The Green Leaf Place is one of Bloomfield’s important historic properties. Built in the English tudor style with natural brick and oak trim in 1912 by Henry Clay Taylor, the original lot was 1 3/4 a. in size and included the presently standing two-story carriage house.
Henry C. Taylor was born on January 17, 1859 in Davis County, Iowa. He was educated in Davis County schools including the Southern Iowa Normal School. (That school’s building was adapted to become the present Gilfillan Clinic Building). He studied/read law at the State University and was admitted by practice in June, 1888. He went into partnership with F.W. Eichelberger until the latter went on the bench and then joined H.C. Traverse until Traverse retired. It was then that he and James McGowen started the bank on the southwest corner of Bloomfield’s square known as the Taylor-McGowen Bank. (That building still has the bank vault on the second floor and is current location of Bloomfield Main Street’s office.)
Helen Steckel Taylor was one of four daughters of Amos and Ellen Steckel, Amos’ second marriage.* Helen was an accomplished musician, having trained at Oberlin (Ohio) College.
Helen and Henry C. Taylor married in 1896. Their children were Heinrick, Ellen, and Rachel.
Helen Taylor was an early organizer/activist for the status of women in Iowa. Their home was a beehive of organizations and cultural activity. The Taylors entertained prominent guests and the attic playhouse called ’The Little Greenleaf Theater” gave actors and actresses a beginning spotlight. It appears the theater at an unknown location pre-dated the Taylor’s home since a copy of a playbill dated in 1896 has been obtained by Valerie Mishler which advertises a production featuring ’the Steckel Orchestra’. This group was comprised of W.J. Steckel probably on violin and the four Steckel sisters. W.J. also was proficient in piano and organ as well.
The contractor for the Taylor home in 1912 was Weitz Construction of Des Moines, the same company that built the W.J. Steckel home in 1908 immediately south of the lot. Originally there were five rooms and a half bath on the first floor, six rooms and three baths on the second, and a theater room on third. All woodwork is solid, quarter-sawn white oak with large oak ceiling beams in rooms downstairs, and features an open stairway and telephone booth. There are three fireplaces, a spacious 15 x 21 foot dining room equipped with the original claw-footed dining table, buffet and twelve chairs carved in Jacobean style. The latter are the originals ordered from the Marshall Field Company of Chicago. The original home was equipped with a central vacuuming system and a living room rug made in pre-World War I Austria.
Helen Taylor was a gifted community organizer, first leading Davis County Federation of Women’s Clubs as President, later to preside over Iowa’s 900 women’s clubs. Her impact on the state and community was felt through groups such as Chair of The Good Roads Committee four years, Vice President of Iowa Good Roads Association for seven years, chaired the State Federation of Women’s Club’s Drama and Fine Arts Divisions serving as its secretary and on its Executive Committee. It was said of her that she ’showed a rare, unfailing sense of justice and her enthusiasm and activity knew no bounds’.
The next owner of the property was George Kyl, the surviving widower of Rachel (daughter of Henry C. and Helen Taylor). After Rachel’s passing, George moved there in 1964 with his second wife Charlotte Brown, who encouraged building the addition to the home. The couple also restored several pieces of Taylor furniture. Avid gardeners, they had an orchard of twenty-one fruit trees, five flower gardens, and a vegetable garden. George Kyl’s ancestors came from Holland and he brought a touch of that country into the kitchen decor with its Dutch Delph tile.
Kyl took early retirement from the FBI as a lab expert and bought the clothing store business owned by Harry Burchette located on the west side of the Bloomfield square. He was co-owner of Kyl’s Men’s Store with his brother John Kyl, who served as Congressman of the 4th District.
In 1994 the Kyl’s sold the property to Jerald and Sharyl Roberts, who remained as owners until 2005 when Gary & Valerie Mishler purchased it. From 2005 to 2007, the Mishlers renovated and redecorated rooms to its current beautiful condition, also adding a bathroom upstairs so that all three guestrooms would have private baths. The home has been offered for tours including the third floor theatre space which may, in the future, become useable for community events. The carriage house in the future will likely serve as a honeymoon suite. The Mishlers have reintroduced the original name of the historic home, this time offering it as a bed and breakfast facility featuring English Tudor and craftsman-style ambiance.