Lindsborg’s first house undergoes renovation

Chad Frey
cfrey@thekansan.com
"'Stenhuset," the first house constructed in Lindsborg, has been renovated to beceome a rentable guest house. Constructed in 1877, the house did not have running water when it was purchased by historic preservationist James Prugh.

When James Prugh bought the oldest house in Lindsborg, he had an idea — renovate the old stone house and open a guest house.

“My contractor stripped everything away to its ‘bare stones,’” Prugh said.” It was rebuilt to take full advantage of its historic features with every modern amenity seamlessly integrated into the structure. My vacation rental is called ‘Stenhuset,’ Swedish for ‘the stone house.’”

There was a big challenge to overcome in the project — because of its age, the house lacked plumbing and electrical wiring. To create a vacation rental that had to change.

Non-historic additions to the house were demolished and hauled away. Stripping away the plaster on revealed its original dark Dakota sandstone blocks, foot-thick walls and carved stone lintels, horizontal supports above each window.

The home was reconfigured to include o bedrooms as well as a third sleeping area to sleep a total of six. Three bathrooms were added.

To get the bathrooms, and the entire home replumbed, he turned to a local manufacturer — Vieaga.

Vieaga manufactures flexible pex piping and a “manabloc” system — which acts very much like a breaker box for a water system.

“That is very much our default,” Prugh said. “... It is easier than running copper piping.”

Using that local source allowed contractors to do things like build a false wall to hide the Manabloc system, and run plumbing throughout the home in the most effective way. What was once an outhouse still stands, however, it now houses a cooling system for the home rather than the primary bathroom.

He said that flexibility is key to projects like this one, which renovated a building constructed in 1877 from stone.

Dating the home, he said, involved a little bit of luck.

“We are lucky in that it was built in 1877,” Prugh said. “We know that, because that data is carved into a stone lentil carved into the windows. There are three bible verses in Swedish carved into the lentils as well.”

One of the lintels was carved “1877” confirming that this is the oldest house still standing in Lindsborg. Swedish stonemasons also chiseled floral designs and, more impressively, several Bible verses in “Old Swedish.”

Prugh has spent more than decade renovating old buildings in Lindsborg.

The Denver, Colorado, resident is currently working on adding living areas to older buildings in downtown Lindsborg — a town he was drawn to because of his own Swedish heritage.

“... After my previous career I decided to reinvent myself as a historic preservationist — which is a fancy way to say fixing up old buildings. I discovered Lindsborg and its Swedish heritage. I am most Swedish and i decided to give this a try and see how it goes. It has gone pretty well. I have been at this for about 12 years.”

The stone house project came along after the home sat on the market for months — without running water or electricity in in the building it just did not sell.

Despite those challenges, Prugh saw potential.

“This property came on the market and it sat there for quite a while,” Prugh said. “I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger. I knew it would be a lot of work because I would have to tear it down to the four stone walls and built it back up. It took probably two years to get that project completed.”

The house can now host up to six guests with two bedrooms and a Murphy bed in the living/kitchen area. It can be found online or as an Aribnb.

When James Prugh purchased the first home constructed in Lindsborg, it came without bathrooms, which he turned to local plumbing manufacturers to create.