Photos by Hillary Ehlen
Historic photos provided by ReNae Simmons
Very rarely do houses in North Dakota make their way onto popular websites like Old House Dreams. However, the Historic Lewis Home has gained recognition on this site. Built by R.C. Lewis for his wife in 1899, it subsequently belonged to the Red Cross and later became the Chez Suzanne bed and breakfast.
Now, three generations live under its roof. They took us on a tour through nearly 5,000 neoclassical square feet of magnificent woodwork, frescos and stained-glass windows.
The Culp family
The first floor belongs to the Culps, who are the oldest generation currently residing in the house. It has a living room, music room, library, smoking room, dining room, pantry and kitchen, as well as a breakfast nook.
First Floor: Entrance
In addition to rounded, stained-glass windows and woodwork, the entrance also features individually cut tile. “It was a true mosaic,” ReNae Simmons, one of the current homeowners, said.
The mosaic had a large crack in it because the original foundation did not extend under the porch. Simmons and her family actually had to hire someone to build a foundation underneath the front porch, which had been held up with bricks and disintegrating mortar. This is where Ben Anderson came across the bricks that he and his wife ended up using in their dining room.
This historic photo reveals that the dining room once had tile floors. When they started to show excessive wear, the bed and breakfast had them carefully replaced with a wood floor to match the rest of the house.
The dining room has four large frescos that were meant to represent the four seasons.
This dumbwaiter in the kitchen goes all the way from the basement up to the third floor.
The kitchen still retains some of its original woodwork and tile today.
Simmons repainted the stairwell by leaning over the railing with a paint roller fixed to a pole.
The Simmons Family
The Culps share the second floor with the family of their daughter, ReNae Simmons. Together, she and her husband have four daughters aged 16, 14, 10 and 2. While the east rooms are occupied by the Culps, the Simmons family have the west bedrooms.
The second-floor sewing room has balcony access.
The Culps and Simmons remodeled this second-floor bathroom using finishes and fixtures that blend in with the period of the house.
In another bathroom, Simmons uncovered this gold accent tile.
This steep staircase was utilized by servants.
The third-floor former ballroom and servants’ quarters are the Simmons family’s domain. Today, the ballroom is used as a living and dining area, while the servants’ quarters serve as an office, schoolroom, playroom, bedroom and kitchen.
In her bedroom, Simmons has integrated a vintage dress that once belonged to a relative into the décor.