317 N Rutledge Street Begins Heritage House Era
The house at 317 N Rutledge in Paullina is believed to be the first house built in Paullina in 1878. An 1885 dish shows it standing in Lots 1 and 2 of Metcalf’s first addition. At the time, the house was owned by John and Thomas Metcalf and their wives Mary and Sarah. John became part owner of Paullina’s bank in 1883. Thomas did not live long after their arrival and the house was sold in 1886.
George P. Buell and his family owned the house until a sale to Charles C. Cannon and his wife Grace (Jennings) Cannon in 1898. Grace lived in the house until her death in 1958 when the house was sold to Cecil and Evea Weseman. Cecil died during the blizzard of 1975. Evea lived well over 100 years old. In 2014 the house was sold to Ryan Paulsen and in 2018 to Tom and Karen Roed.
Karen took charge of the restoration project. She spends a lot of time working to restore the house and save a piece of Paullina’s history. In the more than three years since she started the project, the ground floor and most of the exterior have returned to a beautiful and spacious home. Last fall, Karen hosted a block party as part of the Restoration Project, the first “Heritage House” event.
The first priority to stabilize the deteriorating structure was to replace the roof. Other exterior work is the complete replacement of the front porch. A welcoming porch is a feature of ancient architecture. Adding a layer of blue to the covered porch ceiling is a nice extra touch that brings a piece of New Orleans culture to the prairie.
The exterior has a new paint job. A few pieces of the original upholstery have been replaced. At some time in the past, the flat roof of the back porch was covered with a pitched roof for drainage. The sloping roof has been removed. Water drainage from the roof is improved with some changes to the gutters that still need to be done.
The interior was a mission. Roed recruited members of his family for the cause, although the passion was his own. Hours were spent scraping off layers upon layers of wallpaper. A set of pocket doors at the front entrance work and are very attractive. They left the room to the south that used to be a living room, the room where company was entertained until dinner was ready. The living room has a bay facing south. Many of Paullina’s children had music lessons with Evea in this room.
Inside the front door, in the entryway, a Janelle Hibbing family organ fits perfectly into the wall. Looking forward one can see a small hallway which leads to the kitchen on the left and a recently and beautifully renovated bathroom on the right.
The central room suffered from a long-lasting leak. Once the extent of the internal damage caused by the leak was revealed, numerous demolitions and repairs resolved the leak problem. A construct that was once part of the room has been removed. The room’s large southern windows make it bright and cozy.
The kitchen is completely new and modern while having an old stove. Karen is waiting to see if it can be used or if it will only be on display.
Back at the front door, the stairway upstairs is open, steep and a bit daunting. To the right is a large beautiful family room. The fireplace was opened to reveal an electric fireplace inside. The upper part was intact. The lower part of the fireplace has been redone. Mark (Fuzzy) Puhrmann has been the contractor of choice inside and outside the home.
The beautiful hardwood floors have been brought back to life. Plumbing, wiring and a new boiler are all part of the project. Painted radiators are not an eyesore, but rather a nice feature in rooms.
Space is available to rent for gatherings and events such as family reunions, class reunions, showers, or other similar events. Using guesthouses is not really an option for Heritage House. Overnight guest regulations and available amenities, such as bathrooms, make short-term rentals not an option. Also, Karen is very happy to recognize Mary Iverson as the city’s first B&B operator.
Upstairs work is just beginning. Roed plans to give the floor more of a museum purpose. One bedroom revealed layers of wallpaper. As she pointed out the layers, she said, “It’s a time capsule room right here.” She went on to explain that each layer tells a story. The Weseman children had come to visit their childhood home to see its changes. Bev and Richard shared stories with Karen of how the family used the bedrooms. Karen seeks to preserve some of that history on the upper floor.
Jim Gengler works on the upstairs bathroom, a bit at a time and Karen recounts the times “Fuzzy” went to ND MillWerks for parts. She expressed her gratitude that the old house parts store was only a few blocks away.
Heritage House is a work in progress, like all good things, but it is ready for public use. To reserve a spot, contact Karen at 712-448-2396 and leave a message.
Find more photos of the house on belltimescourier.com