BEST RESURRECTION Minneapolis 1998 -
Two winters ago the only signs of life around this property were a set of dog tracks in the snow and a small, scraggly pine weeping ice in the side yard. The 112-year-old Central neighborhood grande dame had been condemned by city inspectors, boarded up, nailed shut, and slated for demolition. But 3044, built of the stuff dreams were made of when this neighborhood was ground zero of the city's turn-of-the-century building boom, wasn't going down so easily. It still had the tiled fireplace and heavy plaster, quarter-sawn trim and limestone foundation that told of a time when houses were built to last at least 100 years. And last 3044 did--through the 1960s, when I-35W channeled through the neighborhood and the mansion was quartered into a boarding house on a razed landscape; through the '80s, when it became a way station for trick-turners, crack dealers, and, on one occasion, a dead body no one ever identified. The bank foreclosed on the absentee landlord. The place headed for the auction block, changed hands once and again. Before Don Lampert and Dan Abdon bought and rescued it late last year, 3044 seemed overdue for a meeting with the wrecking ball. But only a few months later, the two have gotten to know something of the building's history: Some nights, between ripping down loose plaster and priming walls, they say they can hear the ghost of a former maid in the attic, washing the floorboards. They've installed a new furnace, torn off a gangly addition, updated the plumbing, and started scraping the original clapboard siding in a sweat-equity deal that leaves Martha Stewart's Sunday-afternoon doily-dallying in the dust. Estimated completion date: autumn 1998.