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Anyone familiar with this space when it was a coffee shop above a bookstore will enjoy its transformation into a private home worth seeing. Photo by Margaret Ontl

Historic building transformed into one-of-a-kind home

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Life River Falls,Wisconsin 54022 http://www.hudsonstarobserver.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/14/0613/tohericksondgroom.jpg?itok=6b-_Ogd-
Hudson Star Observer
715-386-9891 customer support
Historic building transformed into one-of-a-kind home
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The home that Rebecca Erickson and John Mingo have created at 112 Walnut St. will be quite a surprise to everyone on this weekend's Chamber of Commerce Christmas Tour of Homes and Craft Sale.

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The 150-year-old building has been a big part of Hudson history. It was the only downtown structure to survive the great fire of 1866. It was the home of the Hudson Star-Observer for 93 years, from 1894 to 1987. Following that, it was a bookstore and coffeehouse until Erickson and Mingo bought the building in 1998.

Most of the first floor was transformed into Salon Ultimissimo, a sort of "retirement salon" for Erickson who has had a long career as a successful hair stylist.

While downsizing their business interests, the couple also decided to leave behind their six-plus acre home in the Town of St. Joseph and set about creating a new home in the rest of the building. The result will likely astonish visitors.

The space is full of unique features like the custom Venetian plaster throughout the home and wall mosaics created by artist Karleen Schnaith. Hudson architect John Kalmon helped the couple design the space including a large spiral staircase and a tubular elevator that gives riders the feel of what it must be like being a deposit at a bank drive-thru.

There is a library filled with handcrafted cherry cabinetry by Mingo including a Murphy bed for guests. A table top is made from original lumber recovered during the remodel set atop a wine barrel that is perfect for the room that also has a guy's requisite refrigerator, recliner and big-screen TV.

The second floor is an open space that includes a spacious master bedroom with lots of built-in cabinets and hardwood floors. A look up and visitors will see an arched brick ceiling. The room has a very open feel but is made cozy by the river rock fireplace. The adjoining bathroom is pretty amazing as well with custom tile from floor to ceiling and a crystal collection like none other.

The kitchen and dining area have bamboo cabinets and concrete countertops made by Mingo. Sneak a peek under the kitchen island to see the "woven wood" base and look up to see the old seltzer bottle pendant lights.

Erickson has decorated the home with art and fine crafts from some of the places she has visited around the world. While she loves to travel, she usually goes with a purpose, having worked on volunteer projects in Central America, Alaska and eastern Europe.

In addition to the original art throughout the house, the furnishings are eclectic. If it could talk, the old Thai dining room table would surely have a story to tell. And the seating around the two-way fireplace was made from original joists used in the ceiling. The hardwood floor is tiger maple.

The home's view of the St. Croix River is a part of the package no matter what the weather. It can be enjoyed in the summer in the screened porch and the rest the year in the four-season conservatory.

The couple keep their holiday decorating like the house year round ---simple and unique with special greenery brought in from Georgia.

This "new" home proves the rule. You can't judge a 150-year-old book by its cover.

Detailed information about the homes on the tour is included a special edition inserted in this week's Star-Observer. Tour hours are on Saturday, from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., and on Sunday from noon-4 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at the Chamber office, Lavender Thymes, Heidi's Hallmark, SEASONS on St. Croix Gallery, and the Best Western/Hudson House Inn.

For more information contact the Chamber at (715)386-8411 or go online at www.hudsonwi.org.

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Meg Heaton
Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
(715) 808-8604
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