Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Diamond in the Rough

For several years I have been driving by a simple little house near St. Peter, MN just across the Minnesota River. It always catches my attention and I have wondered how old it is, who built it, who lived there and how has it survived.  It is a small, simple building that looks to be a typical example of the first generation of houses built during the settlement era in the upper Midwest.  Although houses of this sort used to exist by the thousands in Minnesota, very few have survived unaltered.  This Fall I finally got my courage up and decided I would introduce myself to the owner.  Adjacent to the old house is Nelson Imports, an auto repair shop specializing in Mercedes. I introduces myself to the owner Josh Nelson who graciously showed me his interesting building.

The mystery house near St. Peter, MN. 
As you can see there isn't much to the house. It is in good condition and hasn't been cut up or altered to the point that the original structure can't be easily identified. The earliest part of the house is the section on the right with the front-facing gable.  The addition on the left was added a few years later, most likely as the family grew and separate kitchen space was needed.  Josh knew that the house had been lived in up into the early 1960s and that it has been vacant ever since.  He also had heard that it had been used as the first railroad depot in St. Peter. Since I am fascinated by vernacular architecture like this humble little home and the stories of the people who lived in it, I couldn't help but offer to research the building's history.

Stay posted through the Fall as I start studying this little gem and learn all about its story!  

Plus, if your C Class needs brakes or the "check engine" light keeps coming on, stop by and see Josh at Nelson Imports in St. Peter and he will be sure to take good care of you and your Mercedes.