After 119 years, Haseltine Estate has passed the test of time and is more stunning now than the day it was completed. The Haseltine Estate was not the start, however.
The fascinating Haseltine story begins with family patriarch Ira Sherwin Haseltine, who was born in 1821 in Vermont. Later, he married Augusta Thomas and, in 1843, moved to Wisconsin. There, they produced nine children between 1849 and 1870. Ira was a farmer-merchant, who also became involved in politics. He was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, and was later, after moving to Missouri, elected to Congress.
In 1871, after learning about the construction of the Atlantic and Pacific railway (later Frisco) through Springfield, MO, Ira bought 80 acres about five miles west of the Springfield Public Square at $25 per acre. It was just north of Dorchester Station (later renamed Haseltine Station).
Ira decided to get into the apple business, and established Haseltine Orchards. He and his oldest son Spurgheim planted over 7,000 apple trees from 1871-1874. They would use Haseltine Station to ship out thousands upon thousands of barrels of apples. At the time of his death, Ira was known as the first orchardist and was thought to have the largest orchard in the world (1,600 acres).
Spurgheim continued to run the business after his father’s death in 1899. The orchard trees hit a steep decline due to aging, lack of care during World War I, and the drop in commodity prices at the end of World War I. A final decline, due to the Depression and drought, ended the Haseltine Orchards. Most of the apple trees planted during that period have passed on. The Haseltine family was one of the many exceptional Yankee families arriving in the Ozarks after the Civil War who proved to be leaders in economic and social development.
Many buildings were constructed in the Haseltine Orchards area between 1871 and 1919, including mansions, apple storage barns, water towers and cider/vinegar distilleries. The first structure being Ira and Augusta’s house in 1871, which was later demolished during the construction of Interstate 44. The last structure being the house at Clover Dell Farm, built in 1919 for Ira’s grandson Kirk Graber Haseltine. However, the most elegant of all the structures was the Haseltine-Dreyfus House. Ira’s oldest daughter, Rosa, married Kansas Citian Adolphius Dreyfus in 1891. In 1897, the architect-designed house was completed and named “Hazelcrest.” It could be described as a Late Queen Anne style with classical revival overtones, clothed in jagged local limestone of exaggerated rustication. The house was built with four levels and over 8,500 square feet, in addition to spacious balconies and covered porches. This baronial house is unique among the historic Haseltine houses in its size, luxury, architectural style, fashion and, by far, its cost.
In 1937, the property passed into the hands of Dr. Francis H'Doubler, a Springfield physician, who resided there with his family for forty-eight years. It was the residence of Mr. and Mrs. John Francis from 1985-1995. It was bought in 2002 by Carter Bryant, who, by 2006, fully restored the Haseltine-Dreyfus House to the more modern version it is known as today.