WAYZATA — The historic Section Foreman House in Wayzata is believed to be one of the last of its kind in the state, and there’s a push to make sure it stands for future generations.
The city of Wayzata and the Lake Effect Conservancy, which is behind the Lake Effect Project to improve the city’s lakefront, are working on long-term plans for the Section Foreman House at 738 E. Lake St. Plans may include turning the house into a place for educational programming.
But in the meantime, the Wayzata Heritage Preservation Board hopes the city, which has owned the Section Foreman House since the 1980s, will do a few things to ensure the house isn’t damaged more between now and when the restoration work can begin.
During the board’s March 26 meeting, Heritage Preservation Board members, city officials, including council member Jeffrey Buchanan, City Manager Jeffrey Dahl and Director of Public Works/City Engineer Mike Kelly, the Wayzata Historical Society’s Sue Sorrentino, and a Wayzata resident toured the Section Foreman House to better understand what work needs to be done.
Dan Gustafson, a member of the Heritage Preservation Board, told Lakeshore Weekly News that the board’s goal is to have “simple things” done on the home, such as some needed maintenance including a new coat of paint and getting the 2-plus inches of water pumped out of the basement.
The board is exploring whether to propose a deed restriction on the property to help preserve the historic house, Gustafson said, noting there’s a tendency to use deed restriction on historic structures so they can’t be torn down.
Gustafson did say the leadership in Wayzata has been “so responsive” with this, noting they’ve recognized the need for maintenance on the structure and have been talking about an improvement plan for the house.
City Manager Jeffrey Dahl told Lakeshore Weekly News the City Council will likely review a proposal to put together an interim preservation plan for the Section Foreman House as a part of its Capital Improvement Plan workshop. The earliest a proposal to put together a plan would be approved is early May, Dahl said.
This stabilization plan, which could cost $25,000, could include efforts to ensure the exterior and basement are not further deteriorated, with Dahl noting it “really gets beat up from the surrounding environment” due to its proximity to the lake and railroad tracks.
“Given its history and critical location, preservation efforts will be a partnership that includes the city, Wayzata Historical Society, Lake Effect Conservancy, Heritage Preservation Board, and other community stakeholders,” Dahl said.
History of the house
The Section Foreman House was built in 1902 by the Great Northern Railroad as a place for the section foreman and his family to live. A section foreman was tasked with keeping about 20 miles of railroad in good working order.
The original main entrance to the house faces north, right on the railroad tracks, but in later years historical records show there were two additions on the home. In the 1940s, the home was lifted to install concrete foundation and a basement, and records show the first floor was likely expanded toward the lake at this time to include a living room and bedroom.
The home was eventually purchased from the railroad in 1962, at which point it is believed the new owner Charles N. Brooks, added a new entrance on the south side of the house, as well as a front porch and expanded the living room. Records show Brooks may have also reroofed the additions and updated the kitchen at this time.
The city of Wayzata acquired the house in 1988, and has owned the house and property since. For a while, the city rented the house to tenants, but it has sat vacant since the 1990s.