Historical Paullina home gets renovations | News

PAULLINA—The white, one-and-a-half-story house at 317 N. Rutledge St. in Paullina has been around since 1878, making it the oldest existing home in the southern O’Brien County community.

The 144-year-old edifice — nicknamed the Heritage House — is something owner Karen Roed has spent countless hours renovating with help from local businesses and contractors.

She recently showed off the fruits of their restorative labor with an open house on June 25 as part of the city’s Gemboree celebration. The event attracted about 70 people during its three-hour span.

Karen posted photos at the entrances to the rooms showing what each space looked like before she started the renovations.

“The people who went through the open house were people that love old houses like I do, and it was great to see their expressions and hear what they had to say,” Karen said.

Brothers John and Thomas Metcalf erected the structure four years before the Western Town Lot Co. laid out the plats of land for the budding town in 1882.

“There were probably some other little homes put up really quickly when the town was bustling and being built, but this one is big and still pretty much intact, the same as it was,” said Karen, who has lived in Paullina with her husband, Tom, since 1982.

The Metcalfs lived in the house with their respective wives, Mary and Sarah, until selling it to George Buell in 1886. Buell sold the house to Charles and Grace Cannon, who occupied the home until 1958 when Grace died. That year, it switched ownership to Cecil and Evea Weseman.

Cecil died at the home in a blizzard in 1975, although Evea lived there until eventually moving to a long-term care facility in Sioux City. She sold the house in 2014 to Ryan Paulsen, who owned it until Karen and Tom Roed bought it in 2018.

The fact the home had not been modified much since its original construction is what interested Karen in purchasing the house. The year they bought it, the Roeds hired Harvey’s Five Star Roofing of Spirit Lake to redo the roof.

“They said they had never seen so many layers. I told them, ‘I think there are four or five layers of shingles.’ I think he said he found seven layers in one area, and that’s a first for him. We had to go clear down and tear it all off and replace everything,” Karen said. “The old wooden ones were under there.”

The task of breathing fresh life into the rest of the house and surrounding lawn was no small task, especially given that the property spans almost half a block.

The interior work included updating the kitchen and two bathrooms — one downstairs and one upstairs — as well as sanding and cleaning the floors and removing old carpeting. Karen also took down most of the floor-to-ceiling wallpaper that plastered the walls.

“There’s one hallway that still has wallpaper on it because it would have been really hard to get to, and it wasn’t in bad shape,” Karen said.

She saved several scraps of the old wallpaper and displayed them on the dining room table during the open house for people to peruse.

“The layers were just so interesting. I thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to leave this so people can see how that progressed,’” Karen said.

The kitchen was remodeled with fresh hardwood flooring, repainted walls, a new counter, sink, drawers, appliances, dining table and windows. Karen also set up a vintage stove and an old-fashioned sewing machine in the room to preserve the historical feel of the space.

The windows in the kitchen are the only ones that were switched out during the renovation — the ones elsewhere in the house are original.

“Somebody had replaced it in the ’50s or ’60s probably and it was rotting away,” Karen said of the kitchen windows.

Historical Paullina home gets renovations

Karen Roed of Paullina looks over scraps of old wallpaper that used to cover the walls of the house at 317 N. Rutledge St. She removed most of the wallpaper while renovating the 144-year-old home.

Besides redoing the roof and repainting the exterior walls of the house, the outside work on the property involved removing a few trees and trimming branches as well as fixing up the front porch. She also removed the unattached garage west of the house.

“A few weeks ago, someone bought it from me to move off because it wasn’t original. I thought, ‘We don’t need a garage,’” Karen said.

The businesses and contractors in and around Paullina who helped Karen with the endeavor included:

  • Dan’s Electric.
  • Jim Gengler.
  • Mark’s Pump Sales & Service Inc.
  • Mark Puhrmann Construction.
  • Michelle Lundquist Construction.
  • ND MillWerk Salvage & Sales.
  • Opdahl Electric.
  • Paullina Building Center.
  • Paullina Hardware.

Karen still has more work to do on the house — she joked that “there will always be something that needs worked on” — but also is brainstorming ways community members can use the house.

An early idea she had was to turn the upstairs into a museum of Paullina history, although Karen said community members have discussed opening such a museum elsewhere in town. She also noted how the staircase leading to the second floor could be difficult for some residents to ascend given how steep and twisting it is.

The house hosted a block party in November, during which neighbors brought food that was set up in the kitchen. Since that experience, Karen’s come to envision the house as a place people could book to hold events during the day.

Historical Paullina home gets renovations

Karen Roed holds up a book from Paullina’s 125th anniversary, on the cover of which is an outside picture of the Heritage House at 317 N. Rutledge taken in 2008.

She set out sticky notes during the June 25 open house on which attendees jotted down potential types of events the Heritage House could host. Those included book clubs, bridal or baby showers, Christmas parties, class reunions, family reunions, game nights, graduation parties, murder mystery events, quilt retreats and wedding rehearsal suppers.

Karen said the concrete foundation where the garage used to be and the surrounding lawn also could be used as an outdoor venue for weddings and other large gatherings.

She already has received interest from the community when it comes to booking the house. After the open house, for instance, she received a call from a resident who wanted to use the house for a baby shower in August.

“My main thing was just the house itself,” Karen said. “I wanted to get the house done, and what happens to it now is kind of in the hands of the community.”

This story was first published in the July 16, 2022, print edition of The South O’Brien Sun.

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