The mansion was built of South Dakota quartzite (also known as Sioux Falls Granite). The spectacular home had twenty-one rooms with elegantly carved woodwork, ornate paneling, large ballroom, and a grand staircase.
In 1900, after losing his fortune, Peirce conducted a national raffle of his home, selling about 40,000 tickets at one dollar each. The drawing took place December 24, 1900, at the Union passenger depot. It was first announced that Bert M. Mills, a jeweler from Vinton, Iowa, held the winning ticket. Several days later, it was revealed that he winning ticket was actually held by New York millionaire threadmaker, William Barbour. Peirce owed money to Mr. Barbour.
The abstract for Peirce's mansion actually reveals that a warranty deed transferring title to William Barbour was drawn up on December 17, 1900, nineteen days before Barbour was known to hold the "winning ticket". The lottery had most likely been fixed.
Barbour sold the mansion to William Gordon, in exchange for bonds which were issued by the company operating the Combination Bridge. Gordon, in turn, sold the house to Dr. J.N. Warren.
What happened to house after that?
1908 Thomas S. Martin, founder of the T.S. Martin Department Store, bought the mansion. The family lived there until 1920.
1921-22 The house was occupied by C.A. Eshcher, a stock dealer.
1924 The house was occupied by C.E. Hutton, who was sales manager for the Thompson and DeJarnette Dodge dealership.
1928-46 The mansion was again occupied by members of the Martin family. J. Earle Martin, son of T.S. Martin, moved into the house after an extensive remodeling project. While members of the Martin family lived in the mansion, it was the scene of many large social events. The Martins hosted many a dance or gathering in the third floor ballroom.
1946-50 The home was owned and occupied by Martha Zanfes. The house was then known as "the house of lights", for Mrs. Zanfes, an antique collector, placed lamps in all windows and around the street edge of the porch.
1951-57 The mansion served as a residence for Lutheran Hospital student nurses.
1961 The Junior League of Sioux City purchased the home for $10,000. It was donated in 1959 to the City of Sioux City for use as a cultural building.
1961 The Sioux City Public Museum, formerly located in the library building, opened to the public in its new quarters.
1978 The John Peirce House was placed in the National Register of Historic Places.