Erdrich family rebuilding home from the inside out and the bottom up
by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
What long-time Royalton residents call the “Lodermeier residence” is being given new life at the hands of Josh and Alissa Erdrich.
Adam Lodermeier started construction on the house in about 1891, on North Birch Street, close to downtown Royalton. Lodermeier and his wife, Susan, raised their family there. Their son, Sylvester, lived in the house and operated a grocery store where the vacant antique shop is now.
Sylvester’s son, Patrick, was in the military but also lived in the house for a time, according to Barb Gangl, Royalton’s museum director.
The Erdrichs bought the foreclosed house in 2010 and Josh started gutting it. There are only two small areas which have not been torn apart — a half bathroom and a closet off the back entry and the front entry.
“We have a $20,000 mortgage on the house, but most of the remodeling work has been done out-of-pocket,” said Josh.
Josh spent 14 years as a contractor, so he has the skills and the experience for the job.
Three layers of flooring were torn up throughout the house, but none of the original wood could be saved.
“It was too worn from years of abuse,” Josh said.
“All the layers of really old carpeting were pretty gross, and really smelly once the top one was lifted up,” she said. “But I couldn’t help with that or the allergies would have kicked in.”
Floor joists were replaced upstairs and down, and floors were leveled.
“I saved the original floor joists from upstairs,” said Josh. “They are rough-cut 2 by10s in 12-foot lengths. I hope to use them to make a coffee table, dining room table and end tables.”
When the insides of the house were exposed, the Erdrichs found treasures that had been hidden.
“Behind the old ductwork under the dining room we found a 40-pound flour sack from the old Royalton mill,” said Josh. “We donated that to the Royalton museum.”
Other treasures include several glass jars, a shoe polish can, a sulfide marble and a can of Sherwin Williams “Ivory Drop Black” paint.
Newspapers and a letter had fallen from an upstairs closet into the study downstairs. One of the pieces of newspaper is from an April 12, 1891 issue of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
All of the ceilings upstairs were moved from eight feet to nine feet. Roofs were repitched to open up space in the three bedrooms and bathroom. A previously flat-roofed storage room with a five-foot height was enlarged and a window added to become the master bedroom.
The roofs were vented correctly and batt insulation put in.
The bathroom was shifted over and is now more than three times its former size. Soffits in the kitchen are the result of installing new ductwork in the bedrooms.
An unfinished porch upstairs may find new purpose in being part of the master bedroom closet and a new master bathroom.
The knob and tube wiring has been replaced, with most of the house now rewired.
The Erdrichs use recycled materials when they find them. A friend working on a commercial installation called to let them know there were 50 recessed lights available. Twenty-three of them have already been installed.
The plumbing for the upstairs bathroom and the kitchen is all new.
The Erdrich family, which includes daughters, Anneliese and Abby, and son, Aiden, moved into their new home in August 2012.
The entire house is a work-in-progress, which is highlighted in the kitchen. The eat-in kitchen was enlarged with a wide opening into the formal dining room and an island was installed. But there are three different types of cabinets in the kitchen, many without doors. Considering that it would have cost about $10,000 for all-new cabinetry, Josh wanted to try other things.
“I will be using Rustoleum ‘Cabinet Transformations’ on them once the weather warms up and we can open the windows,” Josh said.
“I love having the island with the sink in the middle,” Alissa said.
She is pretty easygoing about the entire project. “I know Josh does good work and it will look good,” she said.
“It has taken a lot longer than I anticipated; we didn’t plan on doing as much as we’ve done,” he said. “Every time I opened something up I found a new can of worms. We had originally planned to move in and do it room by room.”
The goal for this coming spring and summer is to replace the remaining windows and put up new siding. Josh is thinking about tearing down the leaky-roofed garage and building a new, wider one. Re-shingling the roof can wait, since the existing shingles are not in bad condition.
Alissa is employed by Morrison County and Josh is taking classes at Central Lakes College in Brainerd to be an auto technician. He works part-time at Mills GM in Brainerd.
The Erdrich family has been living in remodels since 2005, and Alissa is looking forward to living in a home that has been completed.
“She wants to live in a finished house,” Josh said.
After graduating from CLC in July, Josh is considering going back to construction for a while.
“Hopefully I will open an auto shop full-time in the next couple of years,” he said.
In the meantime, there is always work to be done on the house.