It is amazing that a family in Waconia was searching for an old farmhouse to move to their Camden Township property and, at the same time, there was a church in Plato with an empty parsonage that fit the bill as a perfect farmhouse. They found each other on Facebook and on October 11 that house was moved from the City of Plato to its new home southeast of New Germany.
St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Plato owned a parsonage right next to their church. The home, which was built in 1927, served the congregation and was home to its pastors for many decades. In recent years, it had been rented out, as the congregation did not have a pastor that needed a parsonage to live in.
Meanwhile, Scott & Stephanie Wambeke and their family were living in Waconia, but they had land in Camden Township, where they dreamed of living in an old farmhouse. They connected with Thein House Movers from Clara City, Minnesota and researched the possibility of moving a home to their site. They had found possible homes to purchase and move, however, trying to get them through the building code permitting process was a challenge.
They had almost given up on the plan to find a farmhouse to move, and they had resolved that they would have to build a new house if they could not find an older home that would work. Stephanie made one last attempt to find a suitable farmhouse by placing a request on Facebook. She had a reply very quickly. A member of St. Paul’s UCC church in Plato saw her post and responded that the church had a vacant parsonage.
After looking at the outside of the house, Wambeke’s interest increased. After touring the inside, the family fell in love with the home. They met with the church and came to an agreement. The church even gave them a copy of the church council minutes from 1927 when they voted to build the house, complete with maple floors in the kitchen. They even gave the family a photo of the house when it was finished with a Model T sitting out front.
Unlike the earlier attempts to move houses, where the family ran into one roadblock after another, this house seemed like one door after another opened for them. The quickness of the reply to their Facebook request, the smooth negotiations with the church, the house meeting Carver County building codes, a more reasonable cost to move this home, and a short ten-mile journey to its new location.
The family also connected with the parishioners at St. Paul’s. “We made friendships with some awesome people,” said Stephanie. Her husband Scott echoed similar comments, saying, “The guys at the church were great.”
So, on the morning of Wednesday, October 11, the house left Plato for its trip down several rural roads. Along the way, McLeod Co-op Power had about a dozen places where line crews had to take down power lines so the house could move through. Members affected had been notified in advance of the short power outage that would occur as the house would move by. Line crews quickly reconnected the lines as soon as the house had moved past each connection point. Part of the route was through Xcel Energy service area, so they also had crews dropping and reconnecting lines.
After the house reached its location in Camden Township, Scott Wambeke took a ladder and climbed up to inspect inside the house. He was amazed to find that it was in excellent condition. He was more surprised that the flashlights he had left standing on-end on the kitchen counter before the move, were still on the kitchen counter and still balanced on-end.
By the time you are reading this article, the Wambeke family hopes to have the farmhouse set down on their foundation and be ready for occupancy. It will be next door to the original, and possibly historic, log structure on their property. Although it is not currently registered as a historic building, the Wambeke’s have found that the log structure was recorded on maps from 1851. They have been told that it was a trading post and are researching that topic. At some point, the log building was added onto and made into a small house
Scott, Stephanie, and their children (ages 16, 14, and 12) have all been living in the very small 800 square-foot house, with only one bathroom and one bedroom, since July. Their house in Waconia sold and they had to move this summer, even though their farmhouse was not ready quite ready to go yet. “It’s been quite an adventure living in the tiny log home,” said Stephanie, “One our children will probably always remember.”
The now empty lot, next to the UCC church in Plato, is being turned into a green space (grass covered lot). The church has no permanent plans for the space right now.