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Progressive Architecture Tour

Words by Susan Hozak-Cardinal Photography by Dan Francis Photography Leave it to the art community to create an event pairing food, wine and a tour of three amazing homes, all…

Words by Susan Hozak-Cardinal
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

Leave it to the art community to create an event pairing food, wine and a tour of three amazing homes, all in the same night. The 2nd annual Progressive Architecture Tour from Plains Art Museum took place on September 23 and walked guests through three homes of area architects and owners to share their stories and insights about the making of their dream homes.


The Crew
I, along with my husband Jason Cardinal, photographer Dan Francis and contributors Trever Hill and Jesse Masterson, were ecstatic to join a small group of 42 people touring three notable homes. It was a day and evening full of excitement, questions, and the chance to meet and mingle with the homeowners and architects. All proceeds raised from the event went to help support the PlainsArt4All initiative to keep the museum’ general admission free.

If you missed out on the tour, no need to fret. Grab yourself a snack and glass of wine and join me as we tour three homes with three different courses.

Progressive Architecture Tour: House #1
HORIZON HOUSE | MOORHEAD
Owners | Sunny Clark and Marc Wilson
Architects | DandE Lab, Malini Srivastava and Mike Christenson
Course #1: Hors d’oeuvres | Luna, Chef Ryan Nitschke


The first home we visited was the Horizon Home in Moorhead. When we arrived, we were greeted by Sandy Thompson. Thompson is the Development Director at the Plains Art Museum, and he and his staff did a wonderful job of organizing the tour for everyone to enjoy. Thompson encouraged the crew to enjoy the hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Ryan Nitschke from Luna while touring the home. Towards the end of the hour, we would all gather together to hear from the home owners and architects.

Let the Tour Begin
Off we went. We loved the clean lines of this house. We also loved the simplicity of the home in that everything seemed to have a purpose. No space was wasted space. Yet, it was so bright and inviting too. Every room and layout of the house made more sense after hearing from the owners on their story towards the building of their energy efficient masterpiece.

 

Marc Wilson, Homeowner
“Like with any budget, we had to think about things that mattered to us and things that didn’t matter to us. We looked through Dwell Magazine for ideas. We knew we wanted a sheltered effect in the backyard. We knew that we didn’t care about big spaces like big bathrooms and that we did want a nice sized kitchen and living area. We also wanted to be environmentally friendly and playful at the same time.”

Owners Sunny Clark and Marc Wilson found the perfect fit with architects Malini Srivastava and Mike Christenson from Design and Energy Laboratory, LLC (DandE Lab). DandE Lab provides affordable, high-performance, energy-efficient architectural design and won the 2014 AIA North Dakota Honor Award for Residential Architecture for the work done on the Horizon House. Energy efficiency, no waste, and leaving the smallest carbon footprint were top priorities of this project.

 

Mike Christenson, Architect
“When we got together to talk about this project, we all just seemed to click. This was a very enjoyable project to work on and we made a lasting friendship.”

Malini Srivastava, Architect
“What was really interesting about this project was that the conversation was about having a spatial quality but not a big house. So the connotation was about how it would feel, and so the answers weren’t obvious, but we knew we would get there. Marc and Sunny had a list, and together we developed a design concept around it. They were willing to experiment and go on an adventure.”

Efficiency, Efficiency, Efficiency
One example of moving forward on being energy efficient, yet cost effective, is with the windows. Windows that are high performance are usually very expensive. Through the company, they were able to use rejected high performance windows that were not used in other projects because of size or color.

“My idea of being green comes from multiple things – less material, less energy, being resource conservative,” said Srivastava. “Windows can be weakest part of the equation in trying to get the home air tight. We would continually test before we finish to make sure the house was as air tight as we wanted it to be before moving forward.”

“Travis (VanDoren) was an amazing builder. We can’t even tell when the wind blows,” said Clark. “We look outside and see the trees moving but everything inside is so quiet.”

Clark also explained how they purposely decided not to put an air conditioner in the home. They experimented on how to keep house cool in summertime by opening windows at night, letting fresh air in, and shutting it down during the day. There is radiant heat as well – no ducts, no forced air. This was one of many aspects where Clark and Wilson had to juggle with priorities. Another was with the size of their master bath. They didn’t feel like they needed a large master bath in comparison to having a larger kitchen and living area, where most of their daily family activities happen. They were also able to cut down on costs by doing some of the finishing work themselves, such as making the cabinets and the doors.

The Ever-Changing Process
Although Srivastava jokes about how slow the designing process took in order to get to where everyone wanted to be, Clark and Wilson didn’t think that at all. In fact, they felt like it was Christmas every time they got to meet with Srivastava and Christenson to make decisions on each phase.

“Marc and Sunny were as much of design process as we were. We did drawings as multiple options as a way to figure out where we are going,” said Srivastava.”As architects, we do work that lasts a long time. It’s easy to make mistakes and hard to know when it’s right so we have to take time to use models and drawings as a way of having conversations with the homeowners.”
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Progressive Architecture Tour: House #2
CASA HAWLEY | SOUTH FARGO
Owners | Sarah and Chris Hawley
Architect | Chris Hawley Architects
Course #2: Salad | Mosaic Foods, Chef Eric Watson

The second home on tour was Casa Hawley, home to Chris and Sarah Hawley. When we arrived at the home, Thompson explained to us that he and Chris Hawley worked together on creating this tour for the Plains Art Museum and will be teaming up for future tours. At Casa Hawley, the group enjoyed a salad by Chef Eric Watson from Mosaic Foods, and roamed around once more, taking in the thoughtful architecture, art and home.

Architect and Homeowner
This home was unique to the others on tour because Chris Hawley was both the architects and homeowner. Hawley explained that his wife and family were living in an 880 square-foot house and thought, enough was enough, they needed a bigger space. They thought about building a new home but that changed when Chris Hawley noticed an “ugly house” for sale that was built in 1968.

Chris Hawley, Architect & Homeowner
“That has got to be the ugliest house. Who would be dumb enough to buy it? These were my first thoughts. But during the second weekend of looking at the house, I told my friend, you know what, there is something there. The neighborhood is right, the space if right, and there is something about the quality of the construction.”

Sarah Hawley, Homeowner
“Chris did a sketch within an hour. He has such a vision and I tend to trust him with most things. When he showed me the sketch, I loved it. I love modern and that is definitely our style. As soon as I saw that sketch, I knew that he could pull it off.”

And the adventure begins…

Challenges
During the Q & A with Chris and Sarah Hawley, we learned about some challenges they faced during the remodel and what steered them towards certain aspects of the home. Chris Hawley said that one thing they went back and forth on was the kitchen. They were deciding if the kitchen would just be opened up partially, but decided to make it big and open, warm and entertaining. “The kitchen island made sense for us and how we live,” explained Chris Hawley. ” If we need formal dining, we use the screen porch for that. We live on the end of this table. We live very informally.”

 

And then there was a water mishap when it rained during the process of changing the roof. “It became challenging for the family. Yes, it was stressful with the flooding, but we made the most of it. What can you do? I said, let’s play ping pong. I’m a pretty good sport,”laughed Sarah Hawley.

 

Reflection of Us
Even with the challenges involved, the finished product of Phase One was a success. You can still see some of the original parts of the house with the pink and avocado bathrooms. So far, the house has a very polished and modern look, but the basement, Phase Two, will have a dramatically different look. It will be more industrial with exposed concrete and a family game room. But like the home above, it will be a reflection of Chris and Sarah Hawley and their family.

Chris Hawley, Architect & Homeowner:
” I’m a minimalist and like reusing things. The table is from wood from an old restaurant in Minot and with repurposed spikes from that project as well. This house is a reflection of us. There is art from my brother or friends, each with personal stories that are near and dear to us.”

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Progressive Architecture Tour: House #3

FARGO LAUNDRY BUILDING | FARGO
Owners | Rondi and Keith McGovern | Fargo
Architect | Chris Hawley Architects/Interior Remodel
Entree | VIP Room, Chef Anthony Bachman
Dessert | Nichole’s Fine Pastry, Pastry Chef Nichole Hensen

The final home on the tour was what Fargoan’s refer to as, The Fargo Laundry Building, home to Rondi and Keith McGovern. When we arrived, we divided into two tour groups. My group went with Keith McGovern and the other group with Rondi McGovern and Chris Hawley. Keith McGovern assured us we were in the group that would get a thorough run down of the place and he was right. There was just so many fascinating and story-filled parts to this home that I am going to have to just share a few with you.

Wait…what? A Laundry Building?

Keith explained to us that after going through three floods, he wanted to move somewhere where he didn’t have to worry about that again. So while he and his realtor were hard at work looking for a house, Keith McGovern suddenly came across an old laundry building for sale. He immediately called up his realtor, Dave Noah, and said, “I can fix anything. Call those guys, I want to buy that building.”

Our tour started in the large garage/shop portion of the building, the same area that Keith McGovern had first looked at as well. “When I walked into this room, I decided that I wanted to buy this building,” Keith McGovern said. We were now in the original room where Leef Cleaners received laundry in 2,000-pound totes. This place use to have washing machines, all sorts of pipes, with lint and soap scum everywhere. This all required a massive cleanup but has now transformed beautifully into a shop, and garage complete with a mudroom and gear room.

 

Keith McGovern, Homeowner:
“I have to give credit to our governor, Doug Burgum. When he came over and I told him my plan, he said, if you are really going to do this, you need to call this guy, he’s an architect. His name is Chris Hawley.”

Chris Hawley, Architect:
“Keith gave me a call Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. and wanted to see some drawings the next day. After seeing the first sketch, I had until Friday and stayed up all night Thursday and those are the two drawings I came up with, and what is cool about it is that it didn’t change much.”

From Drawing to Reality

“I can’t stand CAD and I let Chris know that,” said Keith McGovern. “Chris is an amazing artist so he drew everything for me. We ended up with these drawings and then the building itself.”

The Basement
The laundry building use to be its own self-contained building in 1923. It had its own water treatment, power plant, and fire system. In the east wall, a train would drop off coal which would then be shoveled into a huge boiler. The McGovern’s transformed this basement area into a gym which they now refer to as “The Pit”.

The Pit
“This is the cross-fit gym where the kids work out, and this is the normal gym or Rondi’s gym,” said Keith McGovern. “Her gym area used to be offices for Leef Cleaners.”

Grand Staircase
The staircase was hard to get approved because there are no legs and Keith wanted to be historically correct. The staircase actually bolts together and they assembled it on-site.

Indoor/Outdoor Patio Magic
Keith McGovern led us into a brick room and surprised the crowd with what would undoubtedly be one of the most unique rooms in the city. He explained that he wanted an indoor patio that was essentially, outdoors. A moment later, concrete blocks started to move and a rustic garage door opened to reveal a heated, indoor, swim spa. This area was originally the site where trucks backed up to doors that were operated by heavy, concrete blocks. To preserve the history of the building, Keith McGovern kept the original doors and replicated the massive, concrete counterweights.

Happily Ever After
During the Q&A portion after dinner, we found out that Keith and Rondi McGovern were once prom king and queen. With such an extensive project, the touring crowd wondered if there were any design battles between the “royal court”, and also what it was about Fargo that made them want to keep their roots firmly planted.

“Rondi’s family brought us here and the wonderful people of Fargo kept us here,” said Keith McGovern. “We were really in sync in how Rondi and I functioned on this project. For the structural and mechanical areas, Chris and I worked together. Certain rooms were Rondi’s so I had no say in those,” he joked. “Rondi did save the day by telling me not to frost the windows in the bar area. That would have made a big difference if we did and you couldn’t see outside. Rondi was with me the whole way, and with Chris’s hard work, we were able to pull this all together.”

The Tour Concludes
Through the Progressive Architecture Tour, organized by the Plains Art Museum, we were able to see three incredible homes in different stages of development and thought-process. What most people can only imagine from the street, this tour group, comprised of architectural admirers and dreamers, got an up-close and personal glimpse inside their doors and greatest design ambitions. Although each home and family revealed a different lifestyle, they all shared one commonality. Amidst an array of challenges, they had a vision and a dream to create a space that felt like their version of home.

With Gratitude
To all of the homeowners and architects, thank you for sharing your story, your personal space and your unique vision. To the chef’s who created each sumptuous course along the way, thank you for sharing your talents.

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For more information about the Progressive Architecture Tour, contact:
Plains Art Museum
Sandy Thompson, Director of Development
704 First Avenue North, Fargo, N.D.
701.551.6100
sthompson@plainsart.org
plainsart.org

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Live, Laugh, Love – A Night of Wine, Wishes and Pizza

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by AB Images Have you ever been to a live auction and wondered what it would be like to attend one of the elite dinners…

Words by Tracy Nicholson

Photography by AB Images

Have you ever been to a live auction and wondered what it would be like to attend one of the elite dinners that are often up for bid? This Fall, we were invited to the beautiful, Sheyenne River home of Vonda and Jim Leiner to get a glimpse inside their authentic, Italian, wood-burning pizza party. This event was donated by the Leiners on behalf of Make-A-Wish, North Dakota at the 2017 Wine & Wishes event held this past Spring. Casting the winning bid, Angela and Joe Kolling had a reason for supporting this cause that was close to home. In 2009, their own daughter Morgan was once the recipient of a Wish. Driven to show continued support for other children with life-threatening illnesses, the Kollings gathered friends and family in a celebration of life, love and pizza.

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Inviting seven of their closest friends to the dinner, the Kollings know too well the need for Wishes to be granted. Donating a dinner like this one can mean raising anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, all going towards granting children’s Wishes throughout the state.

The Power of a Wish
“It’s been eight years since we went on our Wish trip for Morgan and we have not missed a Make-A-Wish event since,” said Angela Kolling. “Make-A-Wish was wonderful in making sure that her wish happened. We had a setback the week before she was going on her trip and so they were good about making sure plans were changed to accommodate Morgan, and honestly, Make-A-Wish is one of the best organizations out there. It truly gives kids that are going through this, something to smile about and gives their family that little break and reprieve. Whether it’s a trip, a new bedroom or a new swing set; whatever the wish may be, they make sure it happens for that child and make each wish special.


After their daughter’s Wish was granted, the Kollings vowed to keep giving back. The group of friends they invited to the Leiner’s house comes every year to the Make-A-Wish event to show their support. “It’s nice to be able to share the night with them,” said Angela Kolling. “I think Make-A-Wish would agree, there’s no gift that’s too small. But, even just to get the awareness out there of the organization and what they do. You don’t have to give, you can also donate your time or help with the wishes, it’s not just about spending money.”

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Donating an Experience

Co-hosting for the night’s dinner was Brad and Jennifer Dahl. Brad Dahl has been on the Make-A-Wish board for the past 12 years and he and his wife were the two that proposed the pizza party idea to Jim and Vonda Leiner. In past years, typically executive chefs had donated dinners, but the Dahl’s knew firsthand that the Leiners could create an experience that people would love to bid on. “This is more of an experience,” said Jennifer Dahl. “The food’s going to fabulous, I know that for a fact. It’s a beautiful home, there’s a set up to have a bonfire as well. This is a treat because we’ve been out here or a lot of pizza parties and there’s usually 10 to 20 people. It’s really fun and you can make your own or they’ll make one for you. Jim and Vonda have ruined pizza for us,” laughed Jennifer Dahl. “Once you eat their pizza, you don’t want to go anywhere else.”

Made-from-Scratch Wishes
To create an authentic, Italian experience for the Kollings and their guests, Jim and Vonda Leiner spent nearly 12 hours preparing and sauteeing every type of pizza ingredient imaginable. Jim Leiner made the pizza crust dough from scratch, planning for 16 pizzas.


To make the most of the experience, guests were invited to either create their own concoction or follow one of the Leiner’s favorite recipes they cleverly displayed on restaurant order pads.

“One of the pizzas that really throws people is our bratwurst and sauerkraut with mustard sauce. Also, the shrimp pizza is a signature that not many people have had,” said Vonda Leiner. “The shrimp pizza has a secret base, it’s something that Jim creates as he’s sautéing for the sausage, onions and garlic. This time he did more of a beurre blanc, so it has more of a lemon taste to it.”

“This peach one is our salad pizza and a favorite of ours, we got it from Muddy Waters, that was a restaurant in Minneapolis. There’s Parmesan, Mozzarella, Blue Cheese, Prosciutto, peaches, pears, toasted walnuts and arugula. Then we just drizzle it with balsamic vinegar,” said Jim Leiner.

For another popular pie, the Leiners use bacon grease as the base, Pecorino Romano, Parmesan cheese and a little Mozzarella. “If you look at different recipes, you can pretty much use any kind of cheese and pepper,” said Vonda Leiner. “It’s called Cacio e Pepe which translates to cheese and pepper in Italian. We’re planning a trip to Italy next year for our 30th wedding anniversary, so Jim’s actually learning how to speak Italian. Right now he’s about 40 percent fluent, he can read and write in Italian. I only know a few words, but he’s able to listen to it all day while he’s working, so he’s actually pretty good.”

Woodfire Whimsy
The Leiners wanted an authentic, woodfire pizza oven that could only be found in Italy. Jim Leiner, a long-time cabinet builder for Wood Specialists in Fargo, N.D., Installed the pizza oven, beautiful cabinetry and stone surround. The couple typically reserved pizza parties for the winter, and for good reason. Their authentic pizza oven gets up to around 800 degrees, sufficiently heating up the house.

“We roll the dough out, then place on cornmeal so it doesn’t stick,” explained Vonda Leiner. “The only other secret is not to add too much sauce to the very edge. Each pizza takes about three minutes in the brick oven.”

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Tour the Leiner’s Home

Before guests arrived, Vonda Leiner gave us a tour of their stunning home. For new guests to the Leiner’s home, the experience starts at the street with a picturesque walk through a dreamy landscape framed with cafe lights, finally leading to their front porch, where Frank Sinatra is crooning through the speakers near the entrance.

Inside, it’s easy to feel as if one’s been transported to another, more exotic location; maybe a gorgeous Italian villa, a beautiful resort in the mountains or your favorite restaurant in Napa Valley. Vonda Leiner’s flair for design and detail is in every nook and cranny of their gorgeous home. She doesn’t follow the standard rules of design, and it’s utter perfection. In fact, she doesn’t follow trends, and her style cannot be defined in one word. Some would say it’s an eclectic mix of French country, vintage, industrial, contemporary, Italian and everything in-between. To combine all of these styles seamlessly, with family heirlooms, flea market finds and handmade items is a skill all on its own. Each room is a reflection of the Leiner’s 32 years together. One walk through the home and guests feel as if they’ve gotten a glimpse of their personality, their life, and their loves.

“Her home is beautiful,” said Make-A-Wish mom, Angela Kolling. “It’s nice to be able to come into someone else’s home and experience a different style of dinner. We’ve had dinners through Make-A- Wish where they come to your home as well. So, this had a nice appeal, to be able to go into a different house and be with our friends and family, those that are close to us.”

Seasonal Decor with a Spin
The Leiner’s table is set for Fall perfection. “We just hung the branch over the table last winter for Christmas and then we had antique icicles and snowflakes that hung off of it,” said Vonda Leiner. “After Christmas, we decided to keep it, we liked the architectural look and we didn’t want two more light fixtures in here because of the large kitchen pendants.”

“So, this was an old farm table, but in 2010, I almost started our whole house on fire with a mix of candles, wood, pine cones and fresh greenery,” laughed Vonda Leiner. “It had huge burn marks down the center and I couldn’t find a table to replace it so, we just tried to think of another way.”As a solution, Jim Leiner had a stainless steel top fabricated to fit the lower legs, lending the space a mix of farmhouse, industrial appeal.

An efficient self-taught designer, Vonda Leiner doesn’t decorate for one specific holiday, she decorates for the longer haul, focusing on the seasons. Her Fall decor for the dinner is a seasonal style which will easily last through Thanksgiving. “I’m not a big orange fan, but the white pumpkins are a must,” said Vonda Leiner. If you’re wondering about Christmas, she doesn’t like taking the decor down in four weeks, so Vonda Leiner opts for Winter-inspired decor to last through the next season.

DIY Masterpiece
After sheet-rock, Jim and Vonda Leiner are known to take over the project and physically do all of the home’s finishes themselves. Putting to good use Jim Leiner’s 30-plus years as a cabinet-maker at Wood Specialists, they were able to build their cabinets themselves and have him do all of the custom rock work, tile and almost every finish.


The Leiner’s master suite is an ode to love and family. Vintage photos of their great-grandparents represent both sides of their family, along with pieces from their past.

 

Organic Outdoors
Just off of the master suite, Jim Leiner built a swoon-worthy three-season porch with sliding doors to accommodate the seasons. A slightly more contemporary look at first glance, a second glance reveals an eclectic mix of vintage and flea market finds with a stunning view of the patio and woods beyond their home.

Outside on the patio, Jim Leiner cut 400-pound tree trunks to brace their table top. The table top alone is an impressive 1,200 to 1,300 pounds. The white handrail on the deck was found at an antique store and was originally from a hotel in Minneapolis.

“We’ve been here for 12 years. We wanted to keep the backyard rustic and we wanted it to feel like when you come out here, that you’re in Itasca or someplace like that,” said Vonda Leiner. “We’re just going to put down a little grass and those yellow, weed flowers that you see on the side of the road. We just want it to look really natural.”

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Supporting a Wish

To understand the purpose behind events like the one Jim and Vonda Leiner generously donated, just ask Brad Dahl, a longstanding board member, and wish-granting volunteer. “The best part of being involved with Make-A-Wish is putting smiles on kid’s faces. We’ve got close to 50 kids that get Wishes granted in North Dakota. We have to raise money, the kids get a wish and we don’t want to have to deny it. It would be nice if this number would decrease, that means the kids aren’t getting sick with life-threatening illnesses. If someone wants to get involved with helping, any ideas are listened to by our executive director, Billi Jo Zielinski. When we had this idea, we went to her and she said, “Absolutely.” We didn’t know how it was going to turn out if anyone would even bid on it, but we ended up having a couple of different people that bid on it. Every little bit counts.”

 

“It’s great that people do things like this, it’s a great setting and something that’s really attractive to bid on at the event,” said Joe Kolling. “It’s something different and a lot of fun for a night out. To come to an event like the Make-A-Wish fundraiser, you don’t need to spend $2,000, you can go and spend $25 and still make a huge impact. It’s a fun night to go whether you win something nice or just donate a small amount. It makes an impact and it’s worth going no matter how much you can offer. Going to an event like this is a big eye-opener for someone who hasn’t been through it. The lasting impact that Make-A-Wish has on these families, I can’t describe it. To go to the event at least helps give some kind of perspective on what they do.”

“Joe and Angela’s daughter, Morgan, received her wish to go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in April of 2009,” said Make-A-Wish North Dakota President and CEO, Billi Jo Zielinski. “After the trip, Morgan began coloring pictures and selling them to raise money for Make-A-Wish. From notecards to live auction prints, she has posthumously raised over $30,000 for other wish kids in North Dakota.”

“We could not grant the wishes to almost 50 children each year without the generosity of people like the Leiners, Dahls and Kollings,” said Make-A-Wish North Dakota President and CEO Billi Jo Zielinski. “Donated experiences like this go beyond just a moment at an event. They transform lives, one wish at a time. One of the Kolling family’s favorite mottos is “live, laugh, love” and you can bid on Morgan’s art piece with this motto, hear other wish children stories and enjoy wine from Happy Harry’s at next year’s Wine & Wishes event on Friday, April 6, 2018 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fargo.”

To donate time or help support a Wish, contact:

Billi Jo Zielinski
President and CEO
Make-A-Wish® North Dakota
4143 26th Avenue South, Suite 104, Fargo N.D.
701.280.9474
northdakota.wish.org

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Lost River Treasure

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography, Family photo by Mandey Marie Photography Just over the Horace bridge to the west of the Sheyenne River, is 220 acres…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography, Family photo by Mandey Marie Photography

Just over the Horace bridge to the west of the Sheyenne River, is 220 acres of land that has been treasured by the Samuelson family for six generations. Nestled on the riverbank, the Samuelson’s 1889 homestead is part of the landscape that includes an abandoned river bed which is nothing short of postcard perfection. Jack and Rachel (Samuelson) Dwyer moved into the original homestead in 2009 after purchasing the home and part of the land from Rachel Dwyer’s grandmother, Sherry Samuelson. Like many family members before them, the Dwyers and their four kids eventually outgrew the home. Wanting to ensure the family’s legacy for years to come, the Samuelson family and the Dwyer family came up with a plan to keep the land in the family and also build the dream home their growing family desired.

Lost River Development Abundant trees and river views are just a couple of the reasons why the Samuelson family held tight to this coveted land. When Sherry Samuelson considered selling the land in 2015, Jack Dwyer, a lawyer who specializes in real estate and water law, delved in to see what they could do to preserve the land they had grown to love. Wanting to respect the Samuelson family heritage, he and Sherry Samuelson developed a plan that would give the Dwyers the space they needed and for the first time, allow other families to build their own legacy on the land.

“Sherry and I talked about it and we came up with a plan together to keep it in the family, and to develop it together,” said Jack Dwyer. “I would do the work and Sherry and her kids would maintain the ownership and try to create generational wealth and turn this change into a positive thing. The fact that three out of four of Sherry’s kids don’t get to enjoy the land, helped make the decision that financially it would be the right move for the family to develop it.” Samuelson saw it as a great idea. “I hope I do get to see all of it done. We have a lot of great memories here,” said Samuelson.

Close to Home
Unlike most development plans, this one would be a bit more sentimental. This new neighborhood consisting of 120 lots, needed to honor the Samuelson family and every street and park needed to be what they wanted for their own kids that would be raised on the land. “With the design, we worked very, very hard laying out the subdivision in a way that we can be proud of,” said Jack Dwyer. “We decided to create community space with walking trails and park space that’s centered in the development. The park will include a hockey rink, skating pad, warming house, shelter, and eventually two big playgrounds. There’s also a gazebo, soccer field, tennis court, youth baseball field and basketball court in the works.”

 

With the new layout of the subdivision, Jack Dwyer and Sherry Samuelson opted to create lots for all families, designating space for entry-level homes, mid and luxury homes. Lots are protected by the Sheyenne River diversion and range from $19,900 to $174,900. Currently, 30 lots in the first phase are sold with an additional 40 lots optioned to custom builders.

From Classic 1889 to Modern Day Mid-Century
For the Dwyers, they felt honored to be able to move onto the original homestead back in 2009. ” It’s a very special spot and really the best setting,” said Jack Dwyer. “We’ve always said that we have the best yard in Fargo.” “We haven’t had the greatest house and we didn’t have a garage or closets in the original homestead, but we had the best patio and really the most beautiful setting,” said Rachel Dwyer. “For years, we were trying to figure out a way to maybe make enough money to buy the whole place, and keep it forever,” said Jack Dwyer.

Building new was not the first plan the Dwyers had discussed. They had initially looked into remodeling the original house, so they had an architect draw up a floor plan which would then fix the original brick foundation. “Our bids came back basically what we spent on the new house, and we’d still be left with a house with mouse droppings in the wall, poor insulation and no ductwork,” said Jack Dwyer.

Despite a few setbacks from age and wear, the Dwyers were very happy with the home for many years. “We do love it, and we put a lot of energy and care into the original home. We put in new flooring, wall coverings and windows,” said Rachel Dwyer. “ It was kind of funny because my mom had done the same thing here in the early 90s. So, each person that lived here put their own twist on the house. With three kids it was starting to feel tight, but then when we had our fourth child and it got hard to find places for everything. I really was starting to yearn for my kids to have a nice, big place to play, but also a space for them to relax.”

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History in the Making
Edward and Louisa Samuelson bought the original homestead in April of 1891. After Edward passed away in the early 1930s, Louisa Samuelson lost the land to a bank in a mortgage foreclosure in 1943. Edward and Louisa’s son and Rachel Dwyer’s great-grandfather Didrick Samuelson, who worked for the Horace Post Office for over 40 years, and his wife Mamie, were able to save up enough money to purchase the land back from the bank in 1948 and keep the land in the family.

“I remember the first time I came across that bridge, I thought, am I going to another country?” laughed Sherry Samuelson. “Uncle John who once lived here, I don’t think he had ever been further than Minnesota, and that was only a couple of times. Other than that, he didn’t go off of the farm.”

Didrick and Mamie Samuelson sold the land to their son Edward Samuelson and his wife Sherry Samuelson in 1965, who placed the land into a trust. For Sherry and Edward Samuelson, they would live in the upstairs of the 1889 home, a space that had been renovated into an apartment for prior family members. Her in-laws then resided on the main level of the home. Sherry Samuelson had often thought of Edward’s parents as her own. After raising two children in the upstairs apartment, anticipation of a third had them moving to a larger home in Fargo.

After Edward and Sherry were divorced in 1978, she decided she could not take the farm away from him, so she suggested he keep the acreage. When a neighboring 50 acres of wooded land came up for sale in 1997, Sherry purchased the additional acreage. Sherry Samuelson eventually purchased the Samuelson land from her ex-husband Edward Samuelson in 2006, and she purchased an additional 60-acre tract from another neighboring landowner in 2006. In the end, with a goal to keep the land in their children’s lives, Sherry Samuelson would end up the owner of 220 acres of untouched nature and the original farmstead.

The Lost River Route

In this area where the original house stands, there will soon be a cul-de-sac with larger lots. The original homestead will be taken out, but the barn will remain, leaving a small piece of the Samuelson legacy for future homeowners to enjoy.

On a walk to the riverbank, Jack Dwyer showed us his favorite spots, including the land he bow hunts on and a canoe landing where he often fishes. Phase two, which is not yet begun, will likely include the picturesque, untouched land beyond the clearing. Taking us into the meadow past the cul-de-sac, Jack Dwyer explains that this is the abandoned riverbed where water once ran through, hence the name of the development, Lost River.
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Building a New Heritage

Just past Lost River road, down a street named after Rachel Dwyer’s great grandpa Didrick Samuelson, the Dwyers have completed the build of their new home. For the design of their dream home, the Dwyers worked with Jason Carpenter of Carpenter Homes. Going for a transitional design, they chose to intermingle craftsman quality with mid-century modern appeal. Even Rachel’s grandma, Sherry Samuelson was in agreement. “I was really pleased when Jack and Rachel built this, they’ve done such a good job,” said Samuelson. “I thought of building out here, but oh, I’d get carried away,” she laughed.

Throughout the home, the Dwyers opted do their own design, choosing much of their furniture from Scan Design in Fargo, N.D. “We just chose the things that we have always liked. We had planned to go to the cities to buy much of the furniture from Room & Board, but once we went into Scan Design, we found everything we needed and decided not to leave town. They had so many great pieces.” They also searched high and low for an oil-brushed, white oak flooring they had seen on Houzz, finally spotting the elusive flooring in the JW Kitchens showroom.

 

“In all of the really modern houses you see white walls,” said Rachel Dwyer. “But, we wanted it to stand out against our white cabinets and white trim, so we did Egret White (Sherwin Williams) so there’s some subtle contrast. Our perfect trim is no trim, but that’s not really an option. Our builder loves craftsman trim, so his perfect trim is as much trim as possible, so we found this to be a pretty likable balance. It frames everything out nicely, but it doesn’t have that typical strong, top molding like craftsman does.”


“We were really inspired by mid-century modern and Scandinavian style,” said Rachel Dwyer of their new home. “When we looked through Houzz, we were always drawn to walnut and also a glossy white. We ended up having Poss Custom Cabinets do all of the cabinets in a white slab with a European overlay and walnut trim. Everywhere except the kitchen, we did walnut with our built-ins.” Sharing the same design preference, Rachel Dwyer and her grandmother both love contemporary styling. “I had a home in Seattle and I told Rachel, her hardware in the kitchen is the same as I had in my Seattle home,” said Sherry Samuelson.

 

For the unique countertop, the Dwyers worked with Northern Stone. “They were great to work with,” said Rachel Dwyer. “We chose a lightly-leathered granite, so it has a matte look without having the ridges.” Coordinating perfectly, the backsplash is a wider subway tile, stacked, also in a matte finish.

For the powder room, Rachel Dwyer chose mid-century modern lighting, penny round floor tile and a stunning tulip wall covering with Scandinavian flair. “We even borrowed some pieces like that vase from my grandmother, she has very modern taste, so it’s fun to bring those into our new home,” said Rachel Dwyer. “I think I got my love of modern design from her.”

Find the Finishes
Homebuilder- Carpenter Homes
Powder room wall covering – Scandinavian Tulips, Wayfair
Lighting – Wayfair
Powder room and kitchen backsplash tile – Imperial Flooring
Kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, family room floating shelves – Poss Custom Cabinets
Quartz powder room sink and kitchen countertop – Northern Stone
White Oak flooring – JW Kitchens
Appliances – Rigel’s
Island stools – Scan Design
Dining table lighting – Lowe’s
Exterior landscape design – Boyle Landscape Architects
Linear fireplace – Hebron Brick
Fireplace tile – Imperial Flooring
Sofa, desk, dining table, rugs, chair, artwork & coffee table – Scan Design
Office artwork – Rando

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For the exterior, the Dwyers chose privacy fencing on the side, then open-style fencing on the back to preserve the view to the river. “Peter Boyle of Boyle Landscape Architects actually transplanted flowers from the original homestead, so a lot of them are my great grandmother’s flowers, ” said Rachel Dwyer.

“One of Jason’s ideas to customize this house was to bump out the platform outside of the base of the house in the stairwell. It really did change the look of the house on the exterior,” said Rachel Dwyer. “Jason called us while we were in France in June and said, you know with your high pitched roof, why don’t we put a bonus room up there. There was already an artificial window for exterior appeal, so we thought let’s bump it out over here and make it a playroom, then bump the other wall out and create another bedroom. That’s when we decided not to finish the basement. With our boys sharing a room, our older son can move up to the third level when he’s ready.”

Homebuilder- Carpenter Homes
Exterior landscape design – Boyle Landscape Architects
Irrigation – Aqua Lawn Sprinkler Systems
Siding – LP Smart Siding

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The Dwyers second level consists of a master suite, laundry room, kids bathroom, and three kid’s rooms with spacious walk-in-closets.

The Dwyers found the laundry room’s quartz countertop as a remnant at Northern Stone. “We just lucked out at getting the exact size we needed,” said Rachel Dwyer. They even managed to salvage some of the wood flooring from the old homestead remodel, gathering enough to cover the laundry floor.

Upstairs in the kid’s bathroom, they leaned towards contemporary with a walnut linen divider and double under-mount sinks in quartz. “Since there’s no closet here and I didn’t want to lose space, I had Poss custom design a space for rolled towels,” said Rachel Dwyer.

Find the Finishes
Flooring, shower tile and penny round tile – Imperial Flooring
Lighting – Wayfair
Quartz vanity counters – Northern Stone
Master bedroom – Bamboo furniture, Scan Design
Custom glass shower door – Red River Glazing


Saving a bird’s-eye of the river for their master suite, the Dwyers bedroom is completed with Scandinavian bamboo and contemporary stylings.


Mod lighting sets a mid-century tone for the Dwyers master bath.
Inside their spa-inspired shower, they chose a black penny-round tile complimented by a stunning, wood-look tile from Imperial Flooring.

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“It’s so special that our kids are the sixth generation to live on this land. The new house is just a really functional space for us and we’re still here on the family homestead.”
Rachel Dwyer

While Jack Dwyer has his own law firm, Dwyer Law, Rachel Dwyer has a 14-year career teaching French in West Fargo and currently at Sheyenne High School. They’ve been married for 11 years and have four children, Jesse 8, Dahlia 6, Mikey 3 and Sophie 1.

For information on Lost River Development, contact:
Jack Dwyer
701-235-2040
Jack@ndwaterlaw.com

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Design + Discuss with Grain Designs

Words by Grant Koenig and Blain Mikkonen Photos by Grant Koenig, Dan Francis Photography, Kuda Photography, Nick Friesen Photography, and Shawn Thomas Creative For those that aren’t yet familiar with…

Words by Grant Koenig and Blain Mikkonen

Photos by Grant Koenig, Dan Francis Photography, Kuda Photography, Nick Friesen Photography, and Shawn Thomas Creative

For those that aren’t yet familiar with us, Grain Designs is based in Fargo, N.D. and started out of a joint passion to build and develop new ideas through furniture making. As designers, our minds are in constant pursuit of inspiration and Grain Designs became our outlet to create tangible products out of ideas. We also quickly realized that the furniture market was over-saturated with poorly made, generic pieces and we knew that we could provide something better. We don’t believe in buying new things day after day or year after year, we want the products that we create to hold value and function for years to come. Quality to us means everything and is more important now, than ever.

grain design fargo

 

Why reclaimed wood?
By choosing to work with reclaimed wood it has taught us to be mindful of the resources we have. This has enabled us to breathe new life into seemingly useless materials giving us the ability to provide a meaningful product and experience unlike anything else.

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Fall’s Most Popular Products

grain designs fargoThe Frederick Farmhouse Table
Typically built with reclaimed floor joists out of barns or warehouses, this table has become a staple product for us and is continuing to evolve as design styles change.

 

The Sliding Barn Door 
This product has taken on a life of its own and has found so many more applications than we had originally imagined. They are most commonly used to replace existing swing doors however we have used them as window shades, large room partitions and even doors on dog kennels.

grain designs fargo

 

Custom Desks
Work spaces have become so much more flexible, and this had created a whole new market for us in both the home and business industry. The custom desks that we have designed are truly built with the user in mind and have featured everything from hidden whiskey storage to full magnetic, steel wall features.
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Instagram Inspiration
In our constant pursuit of new ideas, we find inspiration from businesses across the country and throughout the Midwest, combining their ideas with our own local flavor. Here are a few outstanding businesses that are worth the follow.

Junkyard Brewing Company

This Moorhead, M.N. based brewing company has set out to not only create a delicious product but to facilitate a customer experience unlike any other. Stop by their Taproom in North Moorhead and get inspired with their weekly rotation of experimental beers and live music.

 

Jordan Iverson Signature Homes 

Three words describe this Eugene, Oregon home builder; architect, designer, visionary. It’s not hard to be inspired by Iverson’s fusion of modern and traditional design elements, materials and color palettes.

Workshop Denver 

Owner Brad Weiman started his Denver, C.O. venture as a construction and concrete furniture company, but over the past five years, they’ve grown to become much more. These days they are a design + build, construction and project management company that specializes in custom features. Follow them to see their take on creative applications of concrete and wood in countertops, custom wood cabinets and floating staircases in their portfolio of over 60 spec homes.

 

Contact us:
GRAIN DESIGNS SHOWROOM
(by appointment only)
6218 53rd Ave S., Fargo, N.D.

SHOP/MAILING ADDRESS
(by appointment only)
4487 165th Ave SE, Davenport, N.D.

Blain Mikkonen
605.380.5722
blain@graindesigns.com

Grant Koenig
701.730.5821
grant@graindesigns.com

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