Hudson history reclaimed: Paul Engebretson recycles oak from the 1900 Hudson Courthouse into furniturePaul Engebretson can always find a use for reclaimed wood. One of his projects has salvaged a portion of the quarter-sawn oak that once served as paneling and trim in the old courthouse on Third and Orange streets built in 1900.
By: Jon Echternacht, Hudson Star-Observer
Paul Engebretson can always find a use for reclaimed wood.
One of his projects has salvaged a portion of the quarter-sawn oak that once served as paneling and trim in the old courthouse on Third and Orange streets built in 1900.
Engebretson, 73, lives in North Hudson in the house he built about 18 years ago, the same year he acquired the old courthouse paneling through a roundabout method.
“The old courtroom wood was torn out after the construction of a new one, and Elmer Dahm (who lived east of town) took the wood home and was going to cut it up and burn it,” said Engebretson during a conversation in his home on Galahad Road N. last week.
“Elmer died and there was an auction at his place. I knew he had some maple flooring and I wanted to get it for a workbench top,” he said.
“I don’t like auctions, but my wife, Vi, does and she was helping out with the food at the auction for the Bethel Lutheran Church,” he said. Engebretson thought he could get the maple for $10 or less and asked his wife to bid for it.
She called him later and said she got the wood and he should bring the pickup truck to haul it home, he said.
When Engebretson got there Vi told him the wood was inside Elmer’s Quonset hut. He got the maple along with a load of oak paneling from the old courthouse that he hadn’t expected.
“She paid $2.50 for the wood and I had the pickup loaded down on the axel,” he said. “The trip back home down the Vine Street hill was a challenge.”
Engebretson, who repaired computers for 30 years going back to the early days of vacuum tubes, has always liked to dabble in woodworking and admitted it was therapy for him. He also said it was, “a hobby that got out of hand.”
He has a complete wood shop in the lower level of his house and the maple was converted into a workbench top.
In the family room area is a magnificent set of cabinets that tower over Engebretson’s 6-foot 2-inch height made from the salvaged paneling. The quarter-sawn oak displays the lovely patina of old wood and preserves some of the history of Hudson.
Other projects made of reclaimed wood are featured in various areas of the house including a plant stand made form oak columns that were in the courthouse.
But woodworking is not his only interest. Another shop area in the lower level is reserved for repairing clocks and quite a number of wall clocks, mantel clocks and grandfather clock workings are lined up for repairs.
Engebretson started repairing clocks for other people about 1980, he said.
Logically, his two interests have dovetailed into one project at least once. He built a beautiful housing for a mantel clock that adorns the living room and features mahogany and bird’s eye maple accents.
Engebretson is a native of North Hudson. He graduated from Hudson High School in 1955 and joined the U.S. Air Force.
He said he grew up on the property where he now lives. “It was a cottage next to the old Galahad School,” Engebretson said. “When my father died, I inherited the property.”