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Anna G. Larson, Published January 25 2014

'It's time': Restored house on Eighth Street up for sale

Fargo - Dale Hansen and Jim Osowski’s yellow abode feels like home.

For the past 13 years, the 1899 Queen Anne-style built at 708 8th St. S. has welcomed family, friends and strangers into its elegantly appointed walls.

Brunches and birthday celebrations were held around the long dining room table Hansen purchased from a classified ad.

Cocktail parties have ended with a sing-along around the baby grand piano in the parlor where Osowski replicated a bookshelf Hansen saw in a magazine.

The couple purchased the historic Eighth Street home in 2001 and updated it while preserving its 115-year-old splendor.

Although they’ve labored over all 3,544 square feet, Osowski and Hansen say “it’s time” for the house to host another family’s brunches, birthday celebrations and cocktail parties.

The stately dwelling is on the market for $749,900, and it’s in much better shape than the last time it was on the market.

In the morning light of a chilly day in April 2001, Dale Hansen and Jim Osowski viewed the Eighth Street house for the first time. Their realtor had urged them to take a look, knowing that the couple flipped houses (bought a property, fixed it up and resold it).

The quietness of the home was interrupted by water dripping from pipes that had burst. The heating system was broken, and piles of debris decorated nearly every room. The bones were in-tact though, and the couple saw the house’s potential. Hansen and Osowski became the fifth owners of the 115-year-old dwelling.

“I don’t know how to explain it. A house either works or it doesn’t. You know by walking into it,” Osowski says. “Flipping a house on Eighth Street is a pretty major accomplishment. We walked in and said wow, this is going to be a lot of work.”

At first, the house was just another project. Osowski and Hansen planned to fix it up and sell it within a year. But once they were engulfed in the rehab, they started seeing the house as their home.

They started the revamp with the third floor so it was livable while they worked on the first and second floors. Osowski backed his old farm truck up to the house and threw out 52 loads of debris from the top floor.

The entire home was stripped down to its studs and rebuilt, creating a new house in an old shell. The revamp was expensive, and although the couple is too modest to name a dollar amount, they say the project cost twice the price they paid for the house in 2001, not including labor.

Osowski was the craftsman, and Hansen concentrated on the interior design with the help of Osowski’s sister, Lorraine Kallock.

Old and new mingle

The furnishings reflect the home’s historic-modern vibe. The parlor is charming with its grand fireplace, built-in bookcase and baby grand piano. The dining room evokes a similar feel, with a glamorous chandelier and long table.

The kitchen and living room are contemporary and decorated in neutral colors that lend a fresh feel to the spaces. Osowski expanded the kitchen and moved the staircase to create an airier feel on the first floor.

In old homes, he says, spaces can feel closed off, and he wanted to be able to see the living room from the parlor.

His tweaks make the first floor easy to breeze through and ideal for entertaining.

The couple’s realtor and friend, Sharon Hilgers of Park Company Realtors, can attest to the ease of entertaining guests in the space.

Osowski and Hansen hosted her daughter’s post-wedding brunch, and Hilgers recalls guests walking room to room, cocktail in hand, reveling in the beauty of the historic abode.

“People feel nostalgic in this home. It’s interesting to see the emotion,” she says. “My 90-year-old mother-in-law didn’t want to leave the brunch years ago because it’s what she grew up with.”

Bedrooms and bathrooms reside on the second and third floors, some furnished in a modern style and others more period-centric. The master suite’s on the third floor where there’s also a kitchenette.

Each room is flooded with natural light from the large windows where Osowski and Hansen situate their collection of lush plants.

“There’s lots of sunlight to feed the plants. You can tell it’s a happy house,” Hilgers says.

Neighborhood support

Looking back on the challenging rehab, Osowski says encouragement from neighbors propelled the project.

Roger and Margaret Nelson, who own the 7,275-square-foot Victorian house across the street, were particularly helpful to Osowski and Hansen. The Nelsons had restored their historic home years before, and Osowski says he was inspired by their commitment to the neighborhood.

“The houses in our neighborhood… we all take care of them. So much work has been done,” he says.

Other neighbors offered words of encouragement as they walked past the house.

“There were so many people who thanked us. People didn’t know what would happen to the house. They thought it might get knocked down,” Hansen says. “The neighborhood has come around so much since we arrived. People have reinvested. There’s a real vibrancy in the neighborhood.”

Since 2001, Hilgers says she’s seen more people moving from suburbs to historic communities like the Hawthorne neighborhood. She theorizes that after Sept. 11, people wanted to move into neighborhoods because they feel safe.

She’s also noticed that the tree-lined streets and quintessential neighborhood quality is particularly appealing to young professionals and people starting families.

No matter who buys the house, Hilgers is certain they’ll see that it has “good energy.”

“The rooms have their personalities. The rare thing about this house is that it’s a new house. Sometimes when people buy old houses, they get stuck with the problems,” she says.

Osowski and Hansen imagine a family living in the home they worked to restore.

“I think people get that home feel, a welcoming feel, when they enter the house,” Hansen says. “The front porch in the summertime is so nice for a meet and greet. You’re so close to the sidewalk that, inevitably, there’s eye contact and a hello when people walk by. It’s really a great house.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525

For sale

Price: $749,900

Location: 708 8th St. S. in Fargo

Year built: 1899

Home square footage: 3,544

Lot size: 10,454 square feet

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 3½

Fireplaces: 2 (one wood-burning, one electric)