One of Stillwater’s oldest properties, the Boutwell House, has been saved from demolition.
The Washington County Historical Society bought the house, two outbuildings and about 5 acres of land on Thursday, preserving a pioneer home that was in the process of being razed for new development.
A back section of the house was being knocked down in January when Nicole Curtis of HGTV’s “Rehab Addicts,” drove onto the property on Boutwell Road and “wrote a check” to stop demolition and buy some time, said the society’s executive director, Brent Peterson.
The Boutwell House was built in the 1870s and was home to William T. Boutwell, a Presbyterian missionary from New Hampshire who helped name Lake Itasca and organize the local Presbyterian Church. He also was the first chaplain of the Minnesota Territorial Senate in 1849, and traveled by foot, canoe and horseback to preach to people at St. Croix Falls, Marine Mills and Cottage Grove.
After his death in 1890, Boutwell was buried in the family cemetery on city land across the street from the house. The interior of the house has been renovated over the years, but the exterior remains much the same except for the back portion and a side porch destroyed after demolition began.
“Rev. Boutwell’s influence has spanned generations,” Peterson said. “His name is still seen throughout the St. Croix Valley and will be for decades to come. Preserving his home is the least that we can do for everything he has done for us.”
The historical society paid $600,000 in Thursday’s transaction, and Peterson estimated that restorations will cost an additional $300,000 to $400,000.
Previous owner Joel Adamic, who lives in Arizona, had listed it for $650,000.
Peterson said the historical society hasn’t decided how to use the house once it’s restored. The purchase includes a granary that might be older than the house, he said, and a barn dating to the 1940s.
In a short ceremony Thursday, the Rev. Cader Howard of the First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater blessed the house using one of the early minister’s original Bibles. Howard spoke of the importance of helping children understand their heritage.
“This is why we are saving the Rev. Boutwell’s home and preserving it for the future,” he said. “It helps us tell the story of who we are and where we come from. This house helps us tell the story of the founding of Stillwater and the First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater.”