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Angie Wieck, Published February 14 2014

Historic Wipperman mansion restored, now shared with others as bed and breakfast

HANKINSON, N.D. - Sandy Meyer first laid eyes on the Wipperman mansion nearly 40 years ago when she was a young newlywed living with her husband, Marshall, on his parents’ dairy farm.

She was tagging along while he worked when the couple pulled up to the neighboring barn.

“My God, what’s that?” Sandy asked when she saw the home. When he replied it was the Wipperman mansion, Marshall heard Sandy say “I want that” for the first time. The home was not for sale, nor could the young couple afford it, so the answer was ultimately “no.”

Sandy would utter those same three words to him each time it was for sale over the years and his answer was always the same.

She had nearly given up hope when the couple decided to take a drive around Lake Elsie during Marshall’s class reunion in June 2010.

The mansion was once again for sale. This time when Sandy said “I want that,” Marshall finally answered “I do, too.”

They signed the papers in December and opened Lady on the Lake Bed & Breakfast the following July.

Historical significance

The Queen Anne style mansion was built in 1884 by Col. Richard Henry Hankinson, the founder and namesake of the nearby town.

Hankinson settled on 2,500 acres in Richland County after serving in the Civil War and as a superintendent for the Northwestern Telegraph Co. in Minneapolis.

He originally planned to build the town around his home, but the proposed path of the railroad forced him to do business two miles north.

After his death in 1911, the home and surrounding land was sold to Max Wipperman. While he never lived in the home, his son Bud and wife Lenora raised their family there.

The Wippermans later donated the mansion to the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton. The college owned it for just a few years before selling it to a private party.

‘Owned but not taken care of’

The home mainly sat empty after the Wippermans moved.

According to Sandy, it was owned but not taken care of over the years.

The Meyers hoped to complete the mansion’s restoration in time for Hankinson’s 125th centennial in July, so they got to work the day after the papers were signed.

“I had my Hilex, my sleeping bag and my coffeemaker,” said Sandy.

They had a lot of work ahead of them.

Trees, shrubs and weeds had taken over the exterior. Some of the ceilings were falling in and portions of the floors were shot.

There were no upstairs bathrooms, so they had plumbing and electrical work done and installed one in each guestroom.

The couple painted, wallpapered, stained, varnished and more.

They worked tirelessly to restore the mansion to its original glory.

Beyond a B&B

Lines of people who wanted to see inside the mansion stretched all the way to the barn during the Lady on the Lake grand opening.

According to area residents, the only time the mansion had been open to visitors over the years was when the Wippermans held a mother-daughter tea each May.

They continued to get tour requests long after the grand opening was over, so they decided to open the home for special events such as anniversary or Christmas parties. They can accommodate between eight and 20 guests for fine dining indoors and up to 50 on the outdoor patio.

Sandy said she likely did not even know what a bed-and-breakfast was when she first saw the home back in 1974. All she knew was that she wanted it.

Today she is happy to be sharing the historical home with others. “Come as guests, leave as friends!” is their motto.


• Three guestrooms are named in honor of early residents of the home. Miss Sarah and Miss Etta were wives of Col. Hankinson, and Miss Wipperman is a nod to the family who later purchased the home. Each includes a queen bed and private bathroom.

• The Col. Hankinson Suite encompasses the mansion’s entire third floor and includes a sitting room, a bedroom with a king bed and kitchenette, a large private bathroom, and a private balcony overlooking Lake Elsie.

• Breakfast is served from 8 to 10 a.m. in the formal dining room. Guests are asked about meal preferences prior to arrival. The space is also available for private dinner parties.

• A large sitting room with floor-to-ceiling windows offers a view of the sun rising and setting on the lake.

• A 45-by 27-foot concrete patio features a kitchen, fireplace and aluminum dock. Kayaks and canoes are available for rent. The patio is also available for rent separately from the bed- and-breakfast for special events.

• The original barn and hayloft is currently undergoing renovations but will be available for weddings and special events sometime this summer.

Business profile

Lady on the Lake Bed & Breakfast

• Location: Along Lake Elsie near Hanknson, N.D.

• Phone: (701) 242-7520

• Website: ladyonthelakebb.com

Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501