We were living in Elmwood in 2002 when the opportunity came along for us to move to Grandma Brandt's house. She and my grandpa moved here in 1944, raising livestock, crops and two daughters on this farm. At that time Grandma was living a mile away with my mom and dad (Grandpa died before I was born). She was excited we were going to live here and I would often go help get lunch and eat with her during renovations and tell her what we were doing.
The house had a history before my grandparents, being built in the 1890s by the Hoback family. The Hobacks had a big family for such a small house, and the wood floors show how it had been divided into little bitty bedrooms. They must have laid the pine floors before any interior walls were built, so the only evidence is rows of nail holes in the floors showing the outline of former walls.
We did a lot of work to make the house our own and bring back some of the history. It needed to be completely rewired so we tore out the plaster and lath, going down to bare studs. In the process we discovered how the stairs were originally configured (they had been rerouted and walled up with a door to access the staircase) so we put them back to the original plan. We kept some Grandma-era details like the glass doorknobs and light fixtures and tried to honor the house's history even when we couldn't keep an original feature. New windows, new roof, new heat and air, new kitchen and bathroom; it was a big job and besides for the wiring, heat/AC and floor refinishing we did it all ourselves. The first day of work was July 4th and we moved in early February. Terry will tell you I got too excited and he needed about another week of work, and he's probably right. If you look closely there are still some unfinished details, mostly in the attic and closets that nobody but us gets to see.
The biggest change we made was taking down the wall between the kitchen and living room. We don't have a lot of square footage to work with and it made the house much more liveable. I spend a lot of time at the kitchen peninsula, doing everything from cooking to folding laundry to fixing up junk.
The house remodel was only the first phase of the projects required to get the farm to where it is today, If we had known what else was in store for us we might have run screaming but now that it's done we wouldn't trade it for the world. We love the peace and quiet and often think about everyone who made their mark here before we became part of the story.
The Hoback Era
The Brandt Era: My grandparents, Bill and Florence Brandt, with my aunt (left) and mother (right).
The Lorensen Era