Can a historic house in Stillwater be saved from demolition by an 11th-hour plea from an HGTV star?
Or are Nicole Curtis’ efforts to stop crews from taking the wrecking ball to the Boutwell House too little, too late?
Those are the questions Stillwater residents are asking after a demolition crew from Bell’s Trucking moved in to tear down the property last month. Within an hour of the work starting, Curtis, host of the popular TV show “Rehab Addict,” showed up to stop it, said Jonathan Lindstrom, the real estate agent in charge of selling the property.
“She showed up a half an hour, 45 minutes too late,” Lindstrom said.
Curtis, who travels the country rehabbing old houses, did not return phone calls or respond to e-mails last week seeking comment about what she hoped to do with the property.
Late last month, however, she wrote on Facebook: “I’m hearing this house crunch:( horrible. I woke up this morning w a plan for this owner drove to stillwater and pulled up as the first strike hit.”
Later, she posted on Twitter: “Just talked to the nicest man in the world — demo is halted for today :) #stillwater.”
The Boutwell House has a long history in Stillwater.
Built in the 1870s, it was home to William T. Boutwell, a Presbyterian missionary from New Hampshire, said Brent Peterson, executive director of the Washington County Historical Society.
Boutwell arrived in Stillwater after embarking on an expedition in 1832 to discover the Mississippi River’s source, which he later helped name Lake Itasca. More than a decade later, he settled in Stillwater Township. He also helped organize the local Presbyterian Church in 1849, a congregation that is still worshipping today, Peterson said.
After his death in 1890, Boutwell was buried in the family cemetery across the street from the Boutwell House.
The interior of the house has been renovated over the years but the exterior remains much the same. The house and the land are being sold for $650,000, Lindstrom said.
Lindstrom said Curtis is probably the only person who could undertake the renovation of the house, which would likely yield very little return.
“It doesn’t make economic sense for anyone else involved unless they’re related to a TV show or something like that,” he said.
Lindstrom said Curtis and the property owner, Joel Adamic, who lives in Arizona, are discussing options for the house.
Adamic also could not be reached for a comment.
“We’re diligently trying to work with Nicole in trying to save the property,” Lindstrom said.
Blair Emerson is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.