100 Years of History

I have always wanted to live in a house that was over 100 years old. In many cities, that’s hard to come by because they have either demolished all the old homes, lost them to natural disasters, or the cities themselves are just not that old. When I bought my first home it was a bungalow built in 1930, but now, about 10 years later, there are a plethora of homes over 100 years old available. All the bungalows that were built during the 1920's and 1930's are now coming of age and about to celebrate their 100th birthday.

 My bungalow with a little castle flair

My bungalow with a little castle flair

The home I purchased in Minneapolis was built at the end of 1923 by owner and carpenter Axel Peterson. The estimated cost was $2,600 with a completion date of June 1, 1924. Axel lived in the home after it was finished with Leonard Peterson, a clerk for Vicklund and Wallin. It is likely Axel was the type of carpenter who built a house and lived in it long enough to finish the next house, then moved out. By 1925 the stucco bungalow was a boarder’s home, with Olaf Tolos, helper at Crown Iron Works Company, Andrew Rong, helper at William Brothers Boiler and M Company, and Ole Melby, tailor at E.M. Moran and Company residing there. Located just a few blocks off the trolley line on Johnson Street, it was an ideal location for working class residents.

The longest standing residents moved into the home in 1927. Thor E. Tarnstrom, salesman for Kullberg Manufacturing Company, became the home owner. The Tarnstrom’s were from Sweden. Thor married Flossie E. in 1930 and the couple stayed in the home through at least 1942 when their son, Robert T. Thornstrom first appeared in city directories. On May 9th, 1944 Thor passed away at the age of 53, leaving behind his wife Flossie, and kids Robert T and Marion E. John Oscar Tarnstrom was mentioned in the obituary and was likely Thor’s brother. John had a stepson, Eugene A Patterson, who was residing at the home with him in 1954. John passed away in 1958 at the age of 57.

The home was passed down to Linda J Tarnstrom who married Kent T Hawkin’s Jr. in 1970. The home was sold by 1970 to Irene L Sutton (age 20) and Thomas E Weske (age 24) who married on September 1st of that year. The home was put up for sale by owner in 1976 and described as a “lovely 2 bedroom and finished stucco home 25x15 fully carpeted and draped with a double garage in an excellent location.” The house was not quick to sell and was still in the classifieds in 1977. This time the home was descried as “move-in condition with shopping, school and bus not far.” The owners were listing the house for $30,000, a far cry from what I bought it for in 2017.

Throughout each owner, the home went through drastic changes. It started out with beautiful oak hardwood floors. The kitchen floors were then covered with a layer of orange laminate tile, then green laminate tile, then brown laminate flooring. The kitchen cabinets were replaced and the sink location moved. Carpet was also added at some point when wood floors went out of fashion. The built in shelves dividing the living room and dining room were also lost.

 Hideous carpet before...

Hideous carpet before...

 Beautiful hardwoods after.

Beautiful hardwoods after.

All these changes are little scars on the home, showing evolving trends and different styles that each family brought with them to the home. 100 years later, I have chosen to return the style to as close to the original as I can. I removed all the layers of laminate tile in the kitchen, pulled up the carpet, and returned the hard wood floors to their original glory. Some changes are hard to undue, as the beautiful built in cabinets are long gone. It is my hope that this home lives on another 100 years, but it will be interesting to see what it looks like after another few families leave their mark.

 Kitchen floor montage of before, during, and after the wood floors were finished.

Kitchen floor montage of before, during, and after the wood floors were finished.