Former Victorian Rose is in a new era

Published 1:55 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2024

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For many years, the former Victorian Rose on Fountain Street in Albert Lea operated as a bed and breakfast and was visited by many in the public for everything from honeymoons and parties to other opportunities.

Now, the four-story Queen Anne Victorian home is being remodeled for a family, who are making it their own as they intertwine elements from both the past and modern day.

“We were really trying to take the Victorian aesthetic and make it more comfortable and modern — a house that you’d want to live in, but still maintain some of those design elements that they loved,” said Katherine Pratt, who owns the property with her husband, Lanier Pratt.

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The house originally was owned by builder H.A. Paine, who also constructed several other notable buildings in Albert Lea, including the opera house and at least part of Hotel Albert, Lanier said.

The couple bought the house in 2020 and rented it out for about a year before they were married in 2021 and moved in and started their new life together.

They had known each other since they were teenagers and had kept in touch over the years before deciding to be married. Before they were married, Katherine lived in North Carolina.

The two are incorporating their personal and professional backgrounds into the property to make it a warm, fun space for their family.

Lanier, who grew up with a father who managed properties, said his first real job was in maintenance at one of his father’s properties.

He took his first real estate course when he was 18 before moving to Albert Lea, where he now owns and manages properties under Complete Property Managers and is a licensed Realtor through Keller Williams Premier Realty.

“I like the concept of taking a property and fixing it up,” he said.

The Victorian Rose has always been one of his favorite homes in Albert Lea.

“I’ve always had a like and a love of architecture of this period,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s just knowing that there’s stories in the bones of the houses or if it’s just the quality of the craftsmanship from 100 years ago was much higher than it is now. You can still have this kind of quality, you’ll just pay out of the nose for it.”

Katherine started out as a child life specialist focusing on art therapy and now works with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault at the Family Justice Center in North Carolina.

She has also owned her own art company, Private Drive Art Design, since 1995, in which she does art commissions, therapeutic art and has also renovated many houses.

“I love the dressing, the elaborate fabrics and interesting art that this era conjures up,” she said of the house.

Much of the color palette and design inspiration for both the interior and exterior of the home came from a rug that lays in the entryway of the home.

“I found a rug that I liked and just sort of picked and expanded from that, which is typically how I work in design to find a sort of palette that I like,” she said.

Renovation work started in the kitchen, working with Broadway Home Design, who helped them expand the space and work up something they could enjoy and entertain in.

They said Victorian kitchens traditionally weren’t large and were designed solely for cooking and cleaning, and they wanted to take it beyond that to space where people could gather.

The couple also likes to cook together and wanted it to be a special place.

With the help of Broadway Home Design, they expanded the kitchen into what was a small library and bathroom, and the kitchen now flows into the dining room on one side and the living room on the other.

The kitchen features the original butler’s pantry on one side with drawers that open through to the dining room. Along with floor to ceiling cabinets, there is an induction oven with a large copper exhaust hood that is the focal point of the room.

Another highlight is the beverage center and the large vintage, yet utilitarian light fixtures that hang over the large island.

“What we built is for entertaining and enjoying the space,” Katherine said.

After the kitchen, they turned to the exterior, which needed major work by Kevin Ohnstad and his crews. The crews repaired, resealed and then stuccoed all of the individual stucco panels, and gave the outside fresh color. They also had to repair the turret.

A crew of six to 10 people worked probably six days a week for two to three months, the couple estimated.

Next, they replaced storm windows and revamped the dining room and den — known as a snug, Katherine said. They settled on a dark blue for the walls in the den with other splashes of color from pillows, ottomans and self-portraits of Katherine’s children on the walls. The dining room features fun, playful wallpaper, coffered ceiliings, a new grand chandelier and fun art.

Katherine said they have heard many stories about their house from the past, one of which was from someone who had visited as a child and remembered seeing animal heads mounted on the wall. While they are not hunters themselves, they said they got some sillier animal heads and used those to decorate instead.

They have also redone the living room and the three-season porch, as well as the bedrooms for Lanier’s two daughters.

In total there are four bedrooms and four bathrooms on the second floor, and the attic space is the master suite. The basement also has another bathroom and bedroom, and they hope to renovate that eventually into a theater and bar.

The house is decorated with art from all local artists, such as Marty Shepard, or their own work.

“Before it was very dated,” Katherine said. “We’ve tried to bring a lot more color, a lot more character back.”