Winter Street - An Introduction

I love houses; I suppose you can't work in preservation without loving them. And Patrick has learned to love them too. Four years ago, we called our long-suffering realtor and asked to see a foreclosure house on Summit. It was a large home, with 3+ additional apartments, and if other things had been aligned differently, we would have bought it (it was listed at 750K, but we knew the bank would take 500K or under). But it got us thinking, especially since in the back of our minds we knew Patrick's mom or dad might be in need of a place to live.

A few weeks later we brought our realtor to see another place we had found, another foreclosure, this one $7,200. It was a little 1880s farmhouse, and just like the Summit house, we could see the potential. And so, a few weeks later, after jumping through significant hoops with the bank, we bought it (for cash obviously).

We started out strong on the project — with a new furnace, wiring, and plumbing. For a short period, we even had someone staying there and working on it. We had a lot of great help from friends, of which I remember and am thankful for every brushstroke. But then, for a number of personal reasons, we lost momentum for awhile. We knew for various reasons it would no longer be needed for family, and we were overwhelmed by all that needed to be done. My work was exploding, and I could not put my mind to it, and Patrick did not even know where to begin. For a long time, anytime I thought of the place I had a pit in my stomach, and it woke me up at night. I can only imagine how Patrick felt.

And then, this fall, we knew it had to be done. It had sat vacant for too long. Our friend Kevin connected us with his brother Kerry, a handyman/contractor willing to work with Patrick on it. All fall, Patrick worked full-time on finishing it up. We ran into a few more licensing issues with the city, but we knew we were close.

Wednesday we had the final inspection, and Thursday, the brief email "good to go." And just like that, the renovation process was over. We went out for cocktails last night to celebrate.

It's been a long, hard process, but we learned a lot. Patrick learned an incredible amount about home renovation, and discovered he is indeed "handy." I learned about the differences between preservation policy and practice. And in the process, we quite literally saved a piece of Saint Paul's history that was looking at a very grim future.

I'm incredibly proud.

Winter Street then (see, you can see how crazy we were):

Winter Street now:


mtbkrdave said…
Wow, amazing work, you have a lot to be proud of there!

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