CHATFIELD – Owners Bob and Ruth Ann Lund of Oakenwald Terrace Bed and Breakfast, aka the Lund House, are a family legacy in the making and are into storytelling.
The Lunds divide their hours giving tours and answering people’s questions about the history of the house at 218 Winona St. SE, Chatfield. That’s the core of running a bed and breakfast – the people – as Ruth Ann said.
“The reason I love the bed and breakfast is all the fascinating people we meet, all walks of life,” said Ruth Ann. “It’s just really fun.”
Guests, neighbors and travelers often notice the unique architecture, built in the Shingle style of 1880-1900, and ask for a tour. The Lunds welcome anyone who asks.
Tradition marks the house’s legacy as the “house of the city.” The house previously served as a residence, as a Chatfield Lutheran Church, as a rental home, nursing home and assisted living facility. The companies simply held on to history – until Bob’s parents, Marion and Shelby Lund, set out to preserve history.
“(Marion) was just such a good steward of the house,” Ruth Ann said. “She tried to bring things into her home from that time. Most of the things in the house date back to that time, and if they’re not like the furniture in the parlor…it’s actually a replica, but most of the furniture in the house is old, very old.”
The two loved antique shopping and planned to convert the house into a bed and breakfast one day. With pieces related to American history and more items that Marion enjoyed, the house carries her feel just like the original owner, Ellen Lovell. Mrs Lovell built the house for her daughter Anna in 1896 with seven bedrooms, 73 windows and 68 doors.
Anna’s, the planned recipient of the house, is the “premiere room,” as the Lunds describe it, with a large bathroom, dressing room and fireplace. Mrs. Lovell’s room has a large parlor and her son Frink’s room had three closets. Of the four floors, the front contained family quarters and the rear servant quarters.
“We tried to retain some of that original history by naming the rooms,” said Ruth Ann.
In a 125-year-old home, you wouldn’t expect to hear the word original, though the home features light fixtures, bathrooms, and woodwork dating back to the 1890s. The National Register of Historic Places lists Oakenwald Terrace for its architecture as an “unaltered example of the Shingle style.” “. As a “high-fashion style,” the “Shingle Style emphasized applied decoration and detailing in favor of complex shapes wrapped in cedar clapboards,” according to Wentworth, a Maryland design firm.
The house’s grand features were displayed at Anna’s wedding – a day after the family moved into their home in February 1897. With a dance party on the third floor, a four-piece orchestra, and trains chartered for the event, guests were likely amazed by the house, too. construction and indoor plumbing.
“The house was truly state-of-the-art,” Ruth Ann described. “[It]had four indoor bathrooms when plumbing really didn’t exist in rural Minnesota at the time, and it was wired for electricity before Chatfield actually had electricity. She knew it was coming.”
With a construction time of 10 months, the home was built for more than $20,000, while other homes, such as a ranch, could be built for $800, according to the Lunds. Mrs. Lovell’s sophisticated vision for the home was stopped at no cost. She paid for wardrobes in every room, instead of the traditional wardrobes, which increased taxes on the house. The taxes were based on the number of doors in the house, Bob said.
Many of those large closets turned into bathrooms when the Lunds opened their assisted-living home, making the transition to bed and breakfast easier in 2003.
“They really did everything right when they made this house, and in the world we live in now, everything seems to be based on Walmart price cuts and I can find this online for 10 cents cheaper on Amazon, and I don’t have to to do.” even drive to Rochester to do it,” said Bob. “Here they went above and beyond and probably did things too well. They were willing to spend the money to get what was top notch back then, even if the average stuff was a lot better than what we have now.
Guests continue to enjoy these features and learn about the history of rooms and furnishings, even if they’ve heard the story before or stayed in the same room each visit.
“Often the guests find their way to the room that seems coolest to them,” said Bob. “Then they come back and that becomes their room.”
The glitz and glamor of the house will shine during a Christmas open house from 1pm to 6pm on December 10 and 11. For their one open house a year, which went virtual during the pandemic, Lunds are decorating every room in Christmas spirit. As the “truly talented” Christmas decorator, Shelby Lund shared his Bachman decorations and flower arrangements before he passed away in 1999.
“It’s amazing how many people we get every year who say, ‘We’ve lived in Chatfield all our lives and we’ve always wondered what it’s like inside,'” said Bob. “It’s also kind of the home of the city.”
The town also celebrates the history surrounding the home with neighbors such as the Haven family, who were town bankers after Jason C. Easton, who owned the land where Oakenwald Terrace, the Haven house, and the Lucian Johnson house were built. The Harbor House, also known as The Oaks, is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
But at the Port House it is a stone outer wall that attracts the most interest. George Haven Jr., who began building the stone wall in the 1920s with stones from Chatfield and around the world, was also a childhood friend of Frink’s. By the time Bob met him at age 85, Haven had gone blind, but he still knew the path of his stone wall and the stories of building it for 30 years.
The Haven family recently donated the stone wall to the city, which will add a path to the wall and walkways around it.
“We talk to all of our guests about the history of Chatfield and the neighborhood and the wall, which is probably the coolest tourist attraction in southeastern Minnesota,” said Bob. “It’s something our guests have been able to experience for the past 20 years, and it’s been fun for me to tell the story of George and blind George building this crazy wall with all those cool rocks in it.”
These stories share the Lunds’ value of historic preservation because “That’s Oakenwald. That’s us,’ the Lunds said. “That is what we do.”
What: Christmas open house
When: 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm on December 10 and 11
Where: Oakenwald Terrace, 218 Winona St., Chatfield
Cost: Donations of $5 per person to the American Heart Association are suggested