After Tasha and Tony Herrgott of Carver wrapped up a project last summer to restore their 1868 home to its original look, the place seemed to "stand a little taller."

For starters, the two-story house shed many pounds of stucco that had been plastered onto the façade, probably sometime in the 1920s, according to Tasha Herrgott.

The two-year endeavor paid off, and during the Jan. 5 City Council meeting, Carver officials recognized the couple with the 2014 Carver Historic Preservation Award. The Herrgotts received a plaque and a "traveling sign" for their yard.

Every year, the city's heritage preservation commission honors a standout project in the federally designated Carver Historic District, which includes 80 buildings. Nominations for the award trickle in between October and November.

This year, the Herrgotts' effort on the Susanna Zanger House, as it's known, quickly rose to the top, said commission chair John von Walter. The body selected the project unanimously, he said.

The house, defined by the Italianate style, which was popular in the Victorian era, is now more in keeping with the area's historic character, said Von Walter, who lives nearby.

The vintage features are more pronounced: They "jump out. Before, it all got lost in the blandness of the stucco," Von Walter said. "It was in rough shape."

Until now, only commercial buildings in the district that originated in 1980 had tackled stucco removal. Besides taking away from the original design, stucco can mask damage from mold and other issues, he said. "You can't see if water gets behind it and it eventually works its way into the house."

A home improvement project like this makes the whole area more aesthetically pleasing. "Anytime you get a restoration like that, everyone benefits from it," especially when it comes to preserving such an early home, said Von Walter, who's working on a book about the city's historic homes.

Restoring the original look

Henry and Susanna Zanger, German immigrants who became prominent businesspeople in Carver, initially built the house in 1868 with "a three-bay front façade, a side-hall plan, and a low-hipped roof with overhanging eaves," according to city materials.

Additionally, the house had "bracketed eaves, grooved or paneled posts on a portico, and six-over six-paned windows." A stable once stood on the property as well.

Herrgott said she and her husband, both 34, who moved into the house seven years ago, wanted to bring back some of those features. "There are so many great historic properties in Carver. We wanted it to blend in and to take pride in the city and its history," she said.

The Herrgotts' project began one Sunday in October 2013. They organized a group of 20 people to help tear off the stucco, said Tasha Herrgott. They used hammers and crowbars to chip it away.

In some places, the pieces were already crumbling, while in others "the material was tacked on hard." It was labor-intensive, as "stucco is really heavy," but well worth the effort, Herrgott said.

Contractors took over at that point. Their job was to refinish the original lap siding that lay underneath. Some spots had to be patched up here and there.

Other improvements included new windows and doors, while the exterior was repainted a bold red shade.

Herrgott, whose photography business is called Red Bird Hills, had admired the color on a similarly styled home in Providence, R.I. "It took awhile to find the right red. We found a soft, muted red that we really like," with gray and cream as accent colors, Herrgott said. "We wanted something that stood out."

They also replaced an aging roof. The new roof simulates the old wooden one with "architectural shingles."

In the future, the couple may add some other decorative details, such as molding under the roofline and brackets on the front porch, which are evident in old photos.

All in all, "I love that some of the original detail of the house is shining through," Herrgott said. "I take pride and say we're the red house on the corner. I'm no longer embarrassed by the outside."

Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer. She can be reached at