Little has changed at 1620 Grand Avenue since 1937. With just four owners in nearly 80 years the English cottage bungalow has retained its distinguishing features. Most notably the brickwork and turret-shaped front door.
Current owners Duaine and Sally Holck raised their children there and have resided at the home, which sits at the northern end of the Historic North Grand Avenue District in Spencer, for nearly four decades.
“I’d always wanted an older home.We’d seen the home and it was kind of like the house I grew up at in Estherville, but we didn’t think it was as big inside as it is,” Sally Holck said. “The front door is certainly unique and seems to be a drawing factor with the turret on top.”
The Holcks moved to Spencer in 1972 and after three years decided to move from their one-story home to the unique and historic location on Grand Avenue.
Duaine and Sally had four children and the youngest only knew the home on Grand Avenue. A crawl space behind the turret revealed that the unique feature wasn’t just a pretty facade. Turns out the space had been used as a clubhouse of sorts by a previous tenant. One known well by someone the Holcks currently count as a neighbor.
Bonnie Kunath, 89, still lives close to the historic Grand Avenue location that she used to call home. Kunath’s father, Jacob Sorenson, was in fact, the builder and first owner of the home. The space behind the turret was a favorite spot of her brother.
“I don’t know that I went in there that much, but my little brother kind of made it like his clubhouse,” Kunath said.
The Holcks have kept the crawlspace intact but off-limits as they maintain the integrity of the home’s unique features.
In fact, other than a cast-iron railing installed near the garage by a previous owner and new shingles installed by the Holcks, little has changed on the exterior other than simple maintenance since Kunath ran around the yard as a child.
“We’ve done work on the outside — repainting and reshingling, upkeep for the crown molding and brick restoration, but really haven’t done a whole lot,” Duaine said. “We’re trying to keep everything as original as possible and the previous shingles lasted from 1937 to 1991.”
Indeed they’ve kept it nearly identical to its original state. While some interior changes have been made to keep it updated, the exterior exactly matches pictures of the home from the late 1930s with the lone exception of screening in the patio.
The distinctive cast iron sign framework was installed by a previous owner who operated an accounting business at the home. Duaine simply created new signs for the home’s address.
“I like the wrought iron fence and frames,” Duaine said, “It adds another distinct feature and I think the fence was used as a railing for customers visiting the home office a previous owner kept in the back of the home.”
A few bricks here and there have been replaced but the vast majority are the originals brought in from Sheffield Brick and Tile during orignal construction nearly 80 years ago.
“I’m so thrilled that it’s had such good care over the years,” Kunath said. “The bricks are unique. My father was interested in decor and landscaping and made it really nice for us growing up.”
Check out more photos of this home and more at www.nwestiowa.com/okobojiphotos.
From the 2014 September/October issue of Okoboji Magazine.