Saturday, November 12, 2022

One Lumberjack Home

Stillwater, Minnesota, 1860 photo from Wikipedia

For nearly forty years, I lived in Stillwater, Minnesota. By the time I settled there the town had grown from a small village nestled in the bend of the St. Croix River to a welcoming site for tourists. Along the way, it had been the homebase for countless lumberjacks who spent months of each year in the North Woods. The logs they cut floated downriver to Stillwater and its mills. 

All that took place in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By the time I bought a house on the South Hill, the lumberjacks were long gone but their memories and their myths of the folk hero Paul Bunyan and Babe, his Blue Ox, remained.

A Stillwater Sawmill of the 19th Century 

Becomes a 21st century Antique Shopping Center

 What also remained were the “lumberjack” homes, built of lumber harvested by them. 

The lumberjack house I bought was built in 1870. It became the home of my heart. Toward the end of our sojourn together, I hired a contractor who changed the attached back porch into a four-season one for me and then remodeled the kitchen and bathroom, which had been added to the original house in 1910. That section of the house also had a pantry in which sat the washer and dryer.

The unfinished basement of the house had old, old, old windows that let in rain.  The crawlspace beneath the 1910 addition became a  hidey-hole for all the cats who ended up inhabiting the house with me. The basement steps, as well as those that led to the second floor, were narrow and steep. 

They were part of the reason I ultimately sold the house and moved back to Missouri.

Meniere’s entered my life in 2006, and the acute rotational vertigo episodes it brought with it made falling a daily—sometimes hourly—occurrence. In fact, I tumbled down the steps several times, but was always fortunate enough not to break any bones or suffer a concussion. However, the number of falls helped me realize that I had to live in a one-story home with no basement. Steps had become too hazardous. Also, both my friends and I were aging, and I needed more help with daily living. 

So, I left Stillwater and

moved back home to where I had younger family members on whom I have come to rely as this life-journey continues. 

A young couple bought the home and were delighted with it. They felt that it had “good vibes.” They wanted to start their family in it.

The inspector I’d hired to examine the house before I put it on the market had been impressed with all that I’d had done to it, especially between 2001 and 2009: totally new electrical wiring throughout the 139-year-old house; four-star double-glazed windows throughout and on the new four-season porch; a new furnace and AC,; all new appliances (washer, dryer, refrigerator, hot-water heater, and range) during those years; a new roof; new steps, railing, and sidewalk leading to the back porch; new front, porch, and back doors; and the remodeled kitchen and bathroom.

Unwittingly, the young couple hired the same well-respected inspector. On the day we signed the papers, they told me he’d encouraged them to buy, saying the house was “a heck of a deal!” He found only one thing needing attention: one branch of the tree at the side of the house had leafy twigs touching the outside electrical wiring. 

 All I had to do was to hire a tree trimmer who took care of that offending limb—although a quite graceful one—in a matter of minutes at a minimum cost.

All this came to mind in the last week, as I purchased a new washer and dryer. I suspect that my next posting will be about that experience and the “vibes” of my home here in Independence. I tell you, with contentment in my heart, that life is good—when I keep things in perspective. 



  1. I so hope that the couple to whom you sold your 'lumberjack home' find the peace, the contentment and the good vibes you packed it with.
    I hope (so very much) that your new home is paced with good vibes too.

  2. So wonderful to think of that old home beginning a new life with a new family. You were so fortunate to have it for so long, Dee. And I do hope your new place will be just right for the duration. :-)

  3. Sounds like a wonderful home! You did a lot of work on it and the people moving in and the inspector let you know they appreciated it. :)

  4. You definitely gave that young couple a good deal. New memories will be formed there. I am glad you are closer to family and you have mentioned how they have helped.

  5. Is it not simply amazing how the right home goes to the right people. My last house, where I lived more than thirty years with my mother, my sister and her husband I indeed sold to the person who could appreciate it. I was only the third owner, who upgraded the house from knob and tube wiring into whole house wiring. From jalousie windows to Anderson. And so on. At the last moment another buyer entered the picture, and wanted to start a bidding war against the woman whose bid I'd already accepted. Of course I sent him packing. And the buyer still loves the house, these several years later.

  6. I love houses with a history and I love even more that the people who live in houses with histories appreciate them for what they are. Thanks for sharing yours in this post and it sounds like the new owners will bring their own 'good vibes' to the place and that's always comforting when you sell a beloved home.

  7. To think you were the owner of one of the historic homes in Stillwater is wonderful. There are some beauties there! The adoption agency we used was in Stillwater, Hope International, and we made many trips to the town over the years. I seriously wonder if our paths ever crossed and we don’t know about it!
    I’m glad you were able to sell your well-loved home when the time came to a family who hopefully appreciated all the work you had done.

  8. I imagine it's hard to leave a house that has so many memories, but selling it to people who love it and will make their own memories there is wonderful too. In a way, it's sort of paying it forward. Yes, life can be good...

  9. I pictured my maternal grandparents' house as I read about your fixer-upper and all you had done to it. They had steep basement stairs like that. I remember all the stairs in the house being narrow, except the big wide stairs on the front porch. It was one of those old-fashioned porches with gray painted floor boards. Well, thanks for this trip down memory lane! 😃

    You make the places you live sound so loved.

    1. Hi, Dee. Just popping in to say hello! 😃 Hope you are well.

  10. Your home in Stillwater sounds like it suited you to a T, that four seasons porch was a nice idea. But then it was time to move to a one level home near relatives, so you looked forward and moved for good reasons, health.

  11. We lived in Stillwater for several years and worked there for 30 each. Love that town. We too have moved on but Stillwater will always hold a place in our hearts.