A Rare Former's History

Slightly NE of Park Rapids, Minn, a 3 ½ hour jaunt from the Twin Cities, stands a nearly 100 year old cabin, the first built (in 1926) of seven on a plot of land that my great, great grandmother and grandfather smartly chose. This place is known affectionately as, Pinewoods.

Pinewoods is on the glistening, clear waters of Big Sand Lake. A dive off the dock is safe thanks to a dramatic 45 foot drop off. The forest surrounding is crowded with grandmother pines of jack, white, and spruce with paths that ripen blue in the month of July due to an abundance of blueberry bushes. Moss and pinecones cushion your walk from door to beach. My heaven.

The cabin itself is wholly understated - oatmeal stucco, black trim, wood screen doors - which have been painted different colors throughout the years - vermilion now, but with speckles of green and blue from previous coats exposed when left to slam against the frame, a sound that my mom and all my aunts hate but I love.

The cabin was originally a single common room warmed by a stone fireplace, three bedrooms, a very modest kitchen, and a screened-in porch facing west. It didn’t have running water or electricity - unfortunately the original oil lamps were stolen a few years back but the original two-seater privy is still visited with relative frequency, and luckily, much less desirable to a thief.

The privy is an out building all its own. It contains a library of mystery novels, most of which are Agatha Christie, containing reviews by each reader through the years, a tradition started by my great grandma, Neena. “Fair,” “enticing,” “left something to be desired.” It also contains a miniature broom - to ensure there is equitable space for us and the spiders.

#1 has seen some updates throughout her years - sometime before my mom was born they added a “summer kitchen” which was an addition onto the modest kitchen that was screened in like a porch, this was eventually stuccoed over and made the “modest” kitchen just a regular kitchen. Then the west-ward screen porch became a legitimate living room - flanked with bead board, ceiling included. Last was the arrival of the septic system. This pulled water from the lake and gave our cabin running water. So there was a bathroom addition. That was the last of the major add-ons, occurring roughly 60 years ago.

Pinewoods has our family history on the walls. A ever ending collage project of knick-knacks, framed photos, special pinecones, deceased dragonflies, my grandmother’s watercolor paintings, old sun hats, drawings, and the classic Tiny Memorabilia Spoon collection. Each addition is lovingly considered, sometimes scrutinized, but always stays - never to be removed or replaced once it’s hung.

Everything from the turquoise wicker furniture, to the oriental rugs, to the juice glasses I drank from when I was little, or the curtains in the dining room, to the name tape ribbon that my great grandmother sewed on every beach and kitchen towel to ensure we didn’t lose them all to neighboring cabins, to the way #1 looks like glowing amber from our dock at night thanks to the old lamps and beadboard - it has all informed my aesthetic, what I look for my home to be and feel like.

Slightly SE of Minnehaha Creek, a 3 ½ hour jaunt south from Park Rapids, Minn in Minneapolis stands a nearly 100 year old house, the second built (in 1925) of 30 homes on the block. She was built just before the neighborhood building boom of 1928 - which is when most of the houses on this block were built. A giant maple tree flanks the front yard, making the fall rake a 4 or 5 day ordeal. This place is affectionately known as, Home.

Our home is a “typical craftsman bungalow.” Dark cyan trim with oatmeal stucco, east-ward three-season screened-in porch with a screen front door that has a very distinct springing slam against its frame when left unattended… sound familiar?

Our home was originally one common room cinched in the middle by two built-in bookcases and a beautifully carved archway, warmed by a brick fireplace, two bedrooms, and a modest kitchen. Through the years there were (thankfully) additions made to her. A bathroom, a finished basement, a two-car garage with a master bedroom above. These amenities brought our typical bungalow into the modern day - making her acceptable to the millenials that would eventually buy her in 2017.

Our walls are slowly (but surely) filling with our history. Kid art, rocks, dried flowers, paintings by friends, photos, estate sale gems, kites repurposed as mobiles, postcards, mementos from travels. Sometimes they’re removed or replaced by something new, a daily home needs a fresh perspective from time to time, but these items are never lost - they go into special boxes I lovingly hoard. I may have an old shoebox labeled “rocks and bottles,” and it may be full...

Assisting in the search for the place a person will call Home is what makes real estate a meaningful days work for me. It could be a tudor by Lake Nokomis, or a rambler in Ericsson, a three-story victorian in Powderhorn, a mediterranean mansion by Lake of the Isles, or a craftsman bungalow duplex in Tangletown. Whatever gives you the amber glow as you’re out front unpacking your grocery haul from the car - that’s what I’m here to help you find. Everyone should know the feeling of Home.


Whether it be buying or selling a home, some property management work, or you just want to talk about how much you love your cabin too, don't hesitate to reach out! You can find me at anya@rareformproperties.com &/or 651/468-9205. 

Thanks for reading! 
ak [anya kordonowy]