A Home's Story
Written by Kay Olin Johnson
In March of 1972, my husband Don and I walked up to a big old house on 9th Street South in Fargo, North Dakota. We needed a home for our family. I said, "I know what the woodwork should look like in that house and if someone has painted it, I am going to scream!" It was very popular to modernize by painting woodwork.
Well, it had been a Hippy House and a rental to college students for the last few years, so it was dirty, had dog doodoo in the basement, and marijuana butts in the pantry, but no one had loved it enough to paint that lovely oak woodwork!
We bought that house.
We wouldn't even let our little children walk in the house until we had scrubbed and cleaned. So with much cleaning, new plaster, paneling, carpets, and decorating, we moved our six children into our 1899 historic home.
In 1975, the Hawthorne Historic Society had it first "Tour of Homes". Our son, Steve was 7 years old and even at that age he was interested in antiques and the old houses, so he wanted to go with me on the tour. I remember him studying each house. Later, when he sold things for school and Cub Scouts he remembered what every house looked like on the inside.
Steve now has a degree in Art and History. With his photographic memory he is an artist and decorator and has worked on many of homes in these last 45 years. Needless to say, I was thrilled when he asked me to go with him for the 40th anniversary of the Hawthorne Historic Society's Tour of Homes!
In 1999, we had a 100th birthday celebration and invited all of the Heritage Society members and WDAY-TV filmed a special on our house. The TV special was going to run on Saturday evening so everyone would know about the birthday on Sunday.
That was the weekend that John Kennedy, Jr. and his wife were killed in the plane crash. All of the news was about their deaths, so the special on our house didn't run until Sunday evening.
We still had over 100 people for our party and had a lovely time with our Fargo-Moorhead Heritage Society friends and relatives. We will always remember the year that John Kennedy, Jr. and his wife died!
This article was also published in the Hawthorne Neighborhood Newsletter, Vol. 15, Issue 2, June 2017.