The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 29, 2013

St. Peter homeowner recalls restoring of historic home after tornado



“It (the project) was a challenge. We restored what was there and the rest we rebuilt.”

Matching brick was salvaged from destroyed downtown buildings.

The blueprints had been put in a safety-deposit box away from the house. Having access to those plans made Dinsmore’s job easier. The crew created shop drawings using old photographs to make copies of gables, carved grapevine designs and scalloped arches.

The collapsed roof was replaced with a new support design that transferred the weight load more efficiently and strengthened the structure.

The Ahlstroms also had the Minnesota Historical Society on hand to help with the restoration of their home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Emily and Stephen Schumacher House.

The Historical Society provided funding, part of which the Ahlstroms used to replace copper on the home’s exterior. They also purchased wallpaper with patterns that were in style during the Victorian era.

Judy Ahlstrom proudly displays three plaques on a bookshelf in her study, all citing her family’s efforts in respecting their home’s history. The honors include a 1999 Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Award. (The city of St. Peter received the same award that year.)

The restored home has been featured on HGTV.

On the front porch of the home, another plaque is displayed. It is a tribute to Mark Ahlstrom, who died in 1999. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer a few weeks before the tornado struck St. Peter.

The simply designed plaque from the construction company’s owner is a tribute to Mark Ahlstrom. It reads: “For the love of nostalgia.”

Judy Ahlstrom knows critics may question the expense or the wisdom of living in a old house that could pass for a museum.

“It’s not for everyone, I know. I feel it’s really important for someone to step up to the plate and preserve places like this.”

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