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Historic Stillwater house rescued by TV star gets new life

By MARY DIVINE | | Pioneer Press

PUBLISHED: July 15, 2019 at 5:29 a.m. | UPDATED: July 18, 2019 at 1:10 p.m.

Nicole Curtis of HGTV’s “Rehab Addict” has a standing invitation to see the house she saved in Stillwater. The developer who is restoring the 19th-century house once owned by the Rev. William T. Boutwell wants Curtis to take a tour of the historic home she rescued from demolition four years ago. “She is the one, literally, who saved it,” said John Sharkey, the owner of Sharkey Design Build in Stillwater and the developer of the Boutwell Farm housing development.

The 1847 house was in rough shape on a cold January morning in 2015 when Curtis, the host and executive producer of “Rehab Addict,” raced to Stillwater from Minneapolis as a backhoe operator was demolishing an enclosed side porch.


The new houses have been designed with architectural features that complement the historic house. “This one has a turret,” Sharkey said during a recent tour of the site. “I designed them all to have a nod to old Stillwater. They’ll have modern interiors, but we’re trying to have them all look ‘old’ on the outside.”

Another feature he hopes to install: historic gas lanterns that will burn continuously in front of each house.

Each house also will contain a piece of Boutwell history — from historic photos to original timbers for mantelpieces, Sharkey said.

“All these timbers that you see here, we have salvaged from other buildings that were going to be torn down, and we’re incorporating them in every build in here,” Sharkey said during a tour of the carriage house. “This stuff here — it’s kind of like shiplap — we’re incorporating into the old Boutwell home. It’s going to be a really cool touch. Our mantels, we made out of this, too.”

All of the new houses in the development will have names that had some significance to Boutwell. The first house, which should be completed by the end of the year, is named Itasca; its sale price is $800,000. Boutwell helped name Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi River, by combining the Latin words veritas (“truth”) and caput (“head”).

Other names under consideration: Lyndeborough, for the town in New Hampshire where Boutwell was born on Feb. 3, 1803, and La Pointe, for the town on Madeline Island, Wis., where Boutwell trained as a missionary.

“He knew Ojibwe,” Sharkey said. “His wife, Hester Crooks, was half-Ojibwe. It was very rare back then for a white settler to be able to converse in their language and connect in a meaningful way.”

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