Free Victorian Style House Available in Midwest

May 6, 2019 Updated: May 6, 2019

A renovator’s dream is available for no charge in the nation’s Midwestern region.

Home owner Barb Kochlin is giving away her Victorian-style home in Jordan, 37 miles southwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Kochlin, who invests and manages properties for a living, said the century-old house has to go because the Jordan City Council is demanding the structure to be removed within three months otherwise it will have to be demolished.

“The city says it’s ugly. I say it’s historic,” Kochlin told the Minnesota Star Tribune on May 1.

“The architecture is pretty outside,” said the owner. But inside? "It’s godawful ugly with a cork backsplash, horrible wallpaper and fake brick — from some era when nobody had any taste.”

Posted by Star Tribune on Wednesday, May 1, 2019

After more than a year of trying to sell the house on Craigslist for $5,000 without success, she hopes someone who appreciates the building’s antiquity will rescue it from the wrecking ball by moving and renovating the free house.

“I waved the white flag,” she said of her decision to give the house away for free.

The building is based at a historic brewery complex, which is also owned by Kochlin. She valued the home at $50,000 for tax purposes and even tried to put a sign in the front yard, saying “free house—must be moved” but it did not attract the right buyer.

At one point, her former partner had drawings to convert the house into a bed-and-breakfast. “That never happened,” said Kochlin. “That’d be a cool use for the building. But I have no desire to run a bed-and-breakfast.”

Kochlin revealed her grandmother, former Jordan Mayor Gail Andersen, relocated the house to its present location in the year 2002. The building was primarily used to temporarily store antiques Andersen would buy at auctions until they were moved to the family’s antique store.

“Her intent was using it as storage,” Kochlin said.

Andersen spent thousands of dollars renovating the building and never connected it to the city’s water and sewage services. Kochlin inherited the house when she bought the brewery from Andersen back in 2011.

As the new owner, she had hoped to develop the house into a triplex home but the city requested more off-street parking, which proved impractical to build because of the building’s unique location.

“I’m between the hill and the highway. You can’t make more parking,” she said. “Parking is my biggest issue.”

Kochlin failed to petition the city for the parcel of land to be rezoned as a single-family home because it conflicts with the city’s existing plan for the commercial district it falls within.

She argues that the city is at fault because it allowed Andersen to move the building there in the first place.

“That’s what’s so frustrating. She was old and the city let her do it, now it’s my problem,” she said. “Hopefully someone can find me.”

She could not immediately provide an estimate on how much it would cost to move the house but predicts it will cost at least $150,000 to repair.

“The architecture is pretty outside [with some stained-glass windows],” she said. “But it doesn’t have old world charm inside. It’s godawful ugly with a cork backsplash, horrible wallpaper, and fake brick—from some era when nobody had any taste.”

A Gofundme campaign has launched, aiming to raise $500,000 to save the house from demolition.

Fundraiser Christopher Rocco said the house is in “extreme real danger” of being demolished even though Kochlin is willing to give it away for free.

“The cost to do so is high,” he said on the campaign page. “It would crush our soul to watch this classic historic home be lost for all time.”

The amount comprises of $150,000 for moving the home to either Eagan, Rosemount, Farmington, Apple Valley, Mendota Heights, or Summit Avenue.

Another $150,000 will be needed to buy a new plot of land, foundation, and connect it to sewage, power, and water. A further $150,000 will pay for remodeling to make the interior as classic as its exterior. An additional $50,000 will pay for miscellaneous expenses.

“The more money I raise, the more love I can give this home,” Rocco said.

For more information on the house email Kochlin at breeproperties@yahoo.com

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