The Koester House Museum, nestled in the heart of downtown, is an excellent place to take a look at life in Marysville before the turn of the century. If the walls of this white frame Victorian house could talk, they surely would tell of the early Marysville banking family who built the home, the handsome couple who moved in as newlyweds and had three children before the wife was struck down by consumption at the age of 35, leaving her husband, small son and two daughters.
Still luxuriously furnished with the Koester belongings, including family portraits, clothing, toys and books, furniture and household items, the house is a rare gem, completed in 1876, renovated carefully since the 1970s, and opened to the public through the generosity of the Koester heirs, who made it a gift to the city of Marysville.
Surrounded by a brick wall and with cast iron lions and dogs guarding its gates, the grounds of the house are nearly as interesting as the interior. A summer kitchen, ice house, carriage house and statuary make a stroll through this family’s yard an experience to remember.
A rare collection of white bronze (zinc) sculptures which the owner acquired to enhance his yard and gardens has been restored and is on display in the museum yard. The cast iron lions and dogs at the gates were noted by Laura Ingalls Wilder in “On the Way Home,” a diary of her family’s journey in 1894 from South Dakota to Missouri. These statues have also been restored, along with cast iron urns, yard furniture and a fountain.
The Koester family came to America in 1850 from Germany. Charles F. Koester arrived in Marysville in 1860. He engaged in business and was recorder and treasurer of Marshall County. He joined his brother-in-law in the bank which became the Exchange Bank of Schmidt & Koester. Eventually the Koester family developed an entire block, which had two homes, one now a museum and the other a restaurant, several business buildings and a park. The entire block was given to the city of Marysville by the Koester heirs in 1977, and is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places.rn