For decades, a brick-gated house sat on a corner lot in Benson, waiting for somebody — anybody — to complete the inside of the beautiful brick shell.
From the street, it looked like a long-abandoned mini-mansion from a bygone era. Overgrown trees and boarded-up windows gave the structure enough stubble that tales that it was haunted began to circulate.
Now, 79 years after initial construction, the job is finished.
Architect Lori Krejci bought the house two years ago from a building inspector, who had purchased it from Habitat for Humanity, which had acquired it as a donation from the estate of a woman whose husband adopted the property as a pet project after the house’s original owner died.
All that time, from 1939 until 2016, the house never had water, electric or sewer lines. It never even had interior walls.
“There was nothing here but two stud walls on the main floor,” Krejci said. “It was just a junk pile.”
As far as Krejci can tell, the original owner died before he could finish his project. The exterior was complete, but inside, there wasn’t much more than a subfloor and rough framework — with a leaky roof and a bat problem.
Krejci, her family and a team of contractors have spent parts of the past two years finishing the inside. Later this month, she’s opening the doors for an open house.
Krejci bought the property for $40,000; she said the house will list for about $350,000. Based on the few stud walls, she figures the original plan called for three bedrooms and one bathroom. Her team took out a few stud walls and reoriented the 3,000-square-foot house to accommodate four bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Krejci cleaned up the property, installed a new roof and replaced or added almost every window.
Inside, the design is modern.
“I respected the architecture and let loose on the inside and went cool,” she said. “You have this feel of an old loft, but the conveniences of a modern home.”
With an open concept kitchen, a closet with barn doors and cables strung along the railings of the stairs, the stylings are contemporary. To unify the home’s history and its Depression-era roots, Krejci left exposed the original brick fireplace and tried to incorporate objects found on the property.
Former wood studs now line the wall of the staircase. A floor jack from the basement is part of a light fixture in the bathroom. Remnant wood cladding, base boards and molding found on the property make up a fireplace divider wall.
This old brick house on the corner lot in Benson has always been an anomaly in a neighborhood filled with a diverse collection of housing styles. Only now, that’s a good thing.
Nearly 80 years later, it’s finally finished.