The Dustman-Benton House at 303 S. Main Street

Betty Benton Madrid loves to sit on her side patio and talk about her home located next to the Poland Library. She has lived there for over 8 decades and will tell you how her father, William Foster Benton, moved to Poland in 1927 from Nashville, Tennessee, to work for Carbon Limestone. That was the same year her father purchased the brick house where she lives now. It was built by Ike Dustman in 1880. The house Mr. Dustman built is similar to many other houses along Poland’s main street that had a center entranceway. With the exception of the wide front porch the Dustman house appears to be a duplicate of the present Village Town Hall across the street built in 1845. Mr. Benton bought the house from Mr. Brown who had lived in the house for many years while he operated the Fowler Grist Mill nearby.
Betty remembers the time her father built a swimming pool and summer cottage down by Yellow Creek from bricks salvaged from the repaving of Main Street. Her father also built an extension onto the back of the house during the Great Depression for the family while he rented the front rooms to Dr. McCord who made them into his office. Mr. Benton also raised the hip roof and added a third floor bedroom space to also rent. And finally, the lumber from Mr. Brown’s old hitching stable behind the brick house was used to build a shop where Betty and her husband, Merle, now sell antiques.
Merle Madrid likes to tell about the house fire they had in 1996. An electrical short on the first floor cause a fire which quickly spread throughout the house, causing extensive damage to the structure, to all of the furnishings and sadly to the antiques stored there. Fortunately, the fire damage was able to be repaired and the furnishing and antiques replaced. Today it is business as usual with customers visiting the antique shop in the rear of the property. This is a case where another century house has been saved and preserved for those who appreciate Poland’s past. There are other stories of the Dustman-Benton House that have been left untold, but, if you have the time, just stop in at 303 South Main Street and talk to either Merle or Betty Benton Madrid.
As a side comment, Mr. W. F. Benton died in 1969 at the age of 81. His wife, Ann, continued to live in the house until her death in 1988 at the age of 97. They were both buried in the southwest corner of the Riverside Cemetery near the Captain Wilson Monument. A military bronze plaque at their grave site states that Mr. Benton served in World War I. Both Betty and Merle were active members of the Poland Presbyterian Church for many years and Merle devoted 13 years of his political life to the Poland Village Council, being mayor from 1972 to 1975.