The first tour on June 13 will begin at 6 p.m. and last until 9 p.m. On June 14 the tour will begin at 2 p.m. and last until 5 p.m. The tour will be visiting five historic homes in the Paullina area. Cost will be $10 and tickets are available at Mullers, Ebels Dry Cleaning and the Quasquicentennial Little Store, all in Paullina.
Jim and Jean Gnade, Dave and Janelle Hibbing, Tom and Janet Lange, Ross and Elaine Mastbergen and Paul and Cindy Struve own the five homes featured on the tour.
The home with the most interest on this tour is the former home of Obadiah Soren and Emma West (O.S. West home) that is currently owned by Tom and Janet Lange. According to information that the Paullina 125th Committee received from Tom Lange, it is understood that the home was started in 1902 and took seven years to complete. Of those years, two years were idle for lack of funds. It was then finished in 1909 at the cost of $18,000.
Much of the time only one carpenter was doing the work. The builder, Alex Sztuka received $3 per day and started at 6 a.m. each morning and worked till 9 p.m. in the evening. Alex Sztuka built three of the five homes on the Paullina Tour of Homes.
The O.S. West home was a three-story home with twenty rooms. The basement was divided into six rooms. This also included two huge open stairways. The heavy oak flooring was laid upon two layers of rough flooring. The trim is of quarter-sawn oak. The eight-foot doors are inlaid with ebony and boxwood and are three inches thick. The woodwork has never had to be refinished. Still in perfect condition, the secret seems to be that seven coats of shellac, varnish, etc. were put on it at the time.
The house took 85 to 90 kegs of nails. The lumber came form the Southside Lumber Co. of Chicago, which would have filled a train of freight cars. The home had a lighting system of acetylene, which also furnished fuel for the kitchen stove.
On the north and east, there were porticos under which a team and carriage could drive. On the south side was a large porch. In spite of its size, it was heated by a coal furnace with a single register on the main floor, more than adequate because of the extensive use of rock wool insulation in the foot thick walls.
The mansion was to become a showplace because of its unique size and construction for this area. It was considered a "landmark" in O'Brien County.
The structure was featured on stationery that O.S. West used in his business and served as an attraction in his business as well as housing his growing family. On many an occasion, the evening meal was interrupted by a curious tourist peering in a window wondering when the tour began.
In 1952, a major event took place on the West farm with the extensive remodeling of the family home. Due to the ravages of the elements on the elaborate ornamentation, decorating so much of the exterior of the home, a major renovating was necessary to restore the beauty of the still sound structure. Estimates were made of restoring the home to its original state but it was soon discovered that the cost would be prohibitive.
An alternate plan was devised that would retain all but the third story and leave the interior in its original condition but removed much of the ornamentation including almost all the porticos surrounding the home on two stories.
Because of the size of the undertaking, innovative techniques were tried including opening a skirt section in the third story wall so that an entire roof could be designed and constructed under the existing structure before the old roof was removed. Except tour the kitchen area, the interior of the home is still original, including a 14-foot dining room table.
This has been a highlight of just one of the five homes that will be visited during the Paullina Tour of Homes.
For more information on the Paullina Tour of Homes contact Rita Engelke at 448-2588.