Pop Up Sale-A Vintage Market!

Since it’s exterior renovation was complete last fall, the “warehouse space” at #firstandmain has been looking for its perfect user. In the meantime, we have teamed up with An Occasional Market for a fantastic spring event to be held in May. Not to miss out, Sonja and I will be debuting some baked goods for our oft-dreamed of bakery!main-7

The indoor and outdoor space will be utilized by a growing number of vendors to bring the popular market format to Stewarvtille for the weekend, and we hope to see everyone there! We will be open from 10-3 May 21-22, and will be adding vendor info to our Facebook Event page frequently-so stay tuned, tell a friend, and plan to attend A Vintage Market!


Exterior complete!


The exterior transformation of 102 N Main in Stewartville, MN involved new windows, doors, roofing, siding, brick, lighting, sidewalks, and landscaping. We are thrilled to be welcoming a new tenant this September and look forward to sharing the details of that project soon!

This project embodies the type of potential we see in many existing buildings. We would love to collaborate or consult with you on concepts, feasibility, purchase, and development.


Three years ago today we started this blog with the idea that we could share our perspective from experiences had while buying and rehabbing old buildings. With reuse and material upcycling gaining momentum on television and in social media we are glad to be among those who have been practicing what we preach for many years.

Now we have new goals, new ways to use our education and experience while also still taking on our own projects. Goals to work together in order to better serve clients.

In the coming months, we plan to focus heavily on real estate, offer design consultation and service, and dabble in a retail market for specially curated items. What this all looks like will be market driven and the services outlined allow us to have that flexibility. We are so excited! Stick around, this might get good.



Last week we toured a property an easy 10 minutes from Rochester, albeit on a gravel road. While much of our work has focused on commercial redevelopment, we do ponder the occasional residential project.

With no desire to become the typical “flipper” painting everything beige and installing cheap carpet,  we often look at homes with our own family in mind. We consider the overall possibilities of the space, the longevity and durability of materials, and yes, resale. So it was with our dog and kids that we toured this 5 acre parcel, considering the notion of reusing the concrete slab of the existing house. However, upon entering the home, we realized not much was salvageable, aside from the garage. And the BARN.

Visions of modern wonderfulness began to fill our heads… we easily turned this:

existing barn

Into this….


modern barn

modern rustic

Interiors went from rustic and raw to…well, still rustic but finished. Industrial. Modern.


The draw, in case you weren’t sold, is the price. This parcel can be had for 20% of the price of smaller lots in traditional subdivisions.


Without knowing the finer details on the well and septic yet, this still seems like an ideal opportunity…for the willing.





A new face

102 North Main. Stewartville. MN

elevation before  This is the first part of the south facade update. As you see in the “after” photo, below, we added a new door that will lead to shared restrooms for the front and back tenant spaces. New windows and entry storefront are accented by fiber cement siding, cast limestone base and solid brick in the center. Perfect for a new tenant, this 1200 sf space is for lease.

We have begun the design process for the front two-story portion, which will include coordinating materials and more windows.photo-7

Last night we finalized some details with the Stewartville City Council in order to move forward with the south façade improvement portion of our warehouse remodel. This is the “before” picture.

The “after” is going to be great. But we would not be this far if it weren’t for the open, transparent process we have had working with the City of Stewartville. Its refreshing to see a government entity believe in redevelopment, and then follow up and make sure it happens, so we’d like to say THANKS!


Wait for it…

318 South Broadway

One of our larger projects (and the source of much of our renovation education!) was the renovation at 318 South Broadway. Purchased in 2004, we spent three years renovating from top to bottom, including a new reinforced roof, all new windows and doors, new mechanical, electrical and plumbing, and tenant fit out for a loft apartment, architectural office, and restaurant space. Below is a photo of the front of the building when we purchased it-completely covered in sheet metal!Before-front
AfterAbove, an “after” photo showcasing facade improvements, new windows, copper cornice, and signage for the restaurant tenant.
This week we are putting our proposed plan for 102 North Main in front of the Stewartville EDA for approval. It is a facade improvement plan for the south-facing warehouse portion of the building. Hopefully we can post pictures of that transformation soon!

40 minutes from perfect

Yesterday we went to see a property that has long been of interest. Located next to the “Hart Store” and across from the Town Hall. This is the Hart Creamery.



View from the second floor/ attic “window”. The building sits on just over an acre on Hwy. 43 and is zoned CD/ Community Development.

Upon visiting we could see why it has been on the market for over a year. The repairs are daunting as a gaping hole in the roof has allowed a lot of moisture intrusion.




However, being mainly masonry and concrete, there is minimal damage (relative to other buildings we own/ have seen).
It’s not as close to home as we’d like but that is the precise issue most of these small town treasures face.















Original cooler door. SO CUTE.






                                                             Has peeling paint ever been so gorgeous??




Hart Store barn and property, immediately next door. Photo taken on north side of creamery.













Town Hall-across the road. Photo taken from front/ East side of creamery.

So-what is the reuse that will bring this place back to life? Pancakes and eggs on the weekend with some art and music might be nice 🙂

It’s been awhile…

Over the last several months we have continued to work toward a reuse for the barn we purchased last fall. Several items combined have left us without our initial reuse plan put into action. We had hoped by this time to have a new roof and be welcoming people from far and wide to share a farmer’s market, lunch, family reunion, art show or wedding in this amazing, cathedral-like space. It seems at this point that was not meant to be. Our focus now shifts to an attempt at bracing for another winter with only shreds of a roof left. P1040280


Come and see…

The work has begun, and for the past month we have been cleaning, clearing, and sweeping. As we move toward a path of restoration, we want to share the barns with others. While the challenges are many, the potential for reuse is even greater.

The vision we have for this important community space begins now. If you’re available, stop by for cider, cookies, and a tour!

Click on the link for info:   st.marys hills flyer