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Muellers lived in The Big House


Last updated 7/22/2015 at 10:57am

Mueller family in 1967 in the Big House

During construction of Grand Coulee Dam, it was a dormitory. But by construction time for the Third Powerhouse, the big house across from the Coulee Dam Town Hall was just right for one big family.

Bob and Jean Mueller moved to town in 1967, when he was hired as an engineer on the project. They were one of 20 families from Page, Arizona that had moved here to work on the new powerhouse, Jean Mueller told the chamber of commerce members at a recent luncheon.

But the move may have been more challenging for the Muellers in at least one respect.

"We had thought we had a house to rent when we came, and when they found out we had six kids they said they wouldn't rent it to us," she said.

Scrambling for a place to say, they spent one night in a small trailer, then to a motel, where they rented two rooms. They rented a crib for the baby from Loepps, and managed until Sunday, when they went to church at St. Henry's and consulted with the priest.

It turned out the church owned the old dorm, where they held a Bible class in the bottom of the building, renting the upper area to two other families.

The church arranged for the Muellers to move into the bottom, which meant there were now 17 children living in what they would come to call "The Big House."

"There was never any doubt about who they were going to play with or who they were going to fight with," she said. "The kids had a good time living there."

A "license" that hung over the bar that "Recognizes this House as a UNION HOUSE," a symbol of good times and memories.

Over the years, the family occupied the big house and made full use of its size. It had seven bedrooms. (The kids were eventually surprised to learn their friends did not have sinks and medicine cabinets in their rooms.) A large kitchen had three sinks, two refrigerators and walk-in pantry that was big enough for Joe to get locked in, requiring rescue through a ceiling fan.

The hallway was 30 feet long, and Jean sometimes accomplished her daily dusting wearing skates. A play room had a piano and ping pong table, plus items people had stored there.

A vault room contained a pinball machine and temptation for brothers wanting to lock in other brothers. The bathroom had two stalls and two double showers.

The living room was big enough for a large party, holding about 50 people, which happened enough that Bob hung a "license" over the bar.

"Anybody that came to town, we had a party," Jean recalled. "It was a great place."

The family rented the home for 20 years until the church sold it.

It's now owned by Coulee Medical Center, which currently uses it to house visiting professionals.


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