Old homes hold great promise in small towns
Chad Frappier and Barbara Clauson are in love.
Yes, with each other. But the couple also love to take on old-home rehab projects in west central Minnesota small towns.
“We always need a project,” Chad says about their pastime-turned-business, which has resulted in a handful of newly rehabbed homes. “We really want to save some old houses and help people be inspired again,” Barbara adds.
Having both grown up with depression-era parents, they learned very early to be "savers" of things. Their obsession with old houses is just "saving" on a larger scale.
Although fixing up homes is still a side business, they entertain the idea of doing it full time someday.
But for now Chad, a former contractor, works as a project manager at Westmor Industries in Morris while Barbara teleworks for a financial services firm. Together they share a passion for the past. “We want to know the history of the house, who lived there and we want to be a good steward of that property,” Barbara said. “When we drive by a property, we think of what that house has endured over the past 100 years, and what we could do to make it survive the next 100."
Chad grew up on a dairy farm in North Dakota, Barbara in a small southwest Minnesota town. While life’s journey took them on various paths, eight years ago they met. And the lure of the lakes and prairies found them living in a lakeside cabin near Morris.
While being interviewed for this story at their small bungalow rehab project in Chokio, a neighbor dropped in to say hello with a furry four-legged friend close behind. After a few minutes of chit-chat and checking out their remodeling progress, the fellow called his pooch and they headed home.
Yes, this is small town friendly! Barbara and Chad explained that they regularly invite the neighbors to see what’s being done, sort of that small town camaraderie that cities are unable to duplicate. “When we do these projects, we get such local support and caring from people,” Chad said. "That 'connected' feeling of a small town is something we both love."
“There’s such a need for affordable housing in small towns,” Barbara adds. “We both came from little towns and it seems many young people not only want to stay, but they want to move back home. And you can’t get a better value in a house than in a small town. So we believe our work in some way gives back to these communities.”
Chad says the Live Wide Open message needs to get out to more people. “You can’t beat small town life."
(Editor’s Note: Facebook users can search “Bread Crumb Properties” to see wonderful examples of their remodeling projects.)