UPDATE -- The Foley-Brower-Bohmer-Larson-Molenaar House is now for sale!  -- Price Reduced to $349,000.
(Call Greg Molenaar -- Ph: 320-224-6603
385 - Third Avenue South -- St. Cloud, MN 56301
The Foley-Brower-Bohmer-Larson-Molenaar House is for sale! 

While we purchased it to prevent it from being torn down and replaced by a motel construction group, it is still for sale to any party or by a partnership that will assure continued re-construction.  It was a surprise Valentine's day gift for my wife!   She grew up in a dime-sized apartment flat in Tianjin, China.  It was about the size of the garage on this property.

Restoration takes a lot of time and money too.  We hope to find a group that can receive tax grants or deductible donations, or has plans that parallel our ideas for highest and best use.  Finding none we will continue as time and money allow, over the next several years.

We are on-site or in the area most weekends, and occasionally during the week,  Latest project on the grounds was to remove the five dead Oak trees.  

Our intention with the Foley-Baumer House was to first save it from being torn down for a motel, and 2nd to make it our retirement home.  It is a big  project
for an individual family to take on.  If it is not sold, we plan to continue the project, albeit slowly. 

We have already spent our budget for  this year between this house,  and another one purchased in Foley (finished this time), about 10 miles East of St. Cloud.
We have put in about 50 new Andersen  Windows in the main structure, skipping the two porches.  There are four egress windows in the basement. 

Electricity has been restored and wiring includes Cat-5 Internet cable. Stud walls are ready for sheet-rock. There is metered water available in the basement.  City Gas is available too. 

There are high-velocity heat ducts throughout the building, all floors.   There is no heating plant as of this writing, and hardly a start to plumbing.  Those projects should be next. 

I contacted one person with experience in  heating plant installation.  We are seeking quotes for that job. A Heat Pump is probably about $30,000.  If ground water assist, maybe double that.
The basement level has a poured concrete floor, with in-floor PEC pipe already installed (besides the air ducts).

The basement floor is mostly rough cement, with several rooms covered in unpolished granite tile.  We
are asking Traditional Floors, of East  St. Cloud, for a bid to clean and  polish them.
  • This magnificent Richardson-Romanesque brick structure is 8,300 sq. feet...
  • Resting on over an acre of land, a block North of the SCSU campus, 
  • I am guessing land value at $160K.
  • The property includes the wooded ravine lot beyond the fence to the North. 
  • There is church property on three sides (Luthern, Presbyterian, and Korean Baptist)
  • The roof was new before 2005, at a cost of about $140,000. 
  • The new Andersen windows were over $150,000. 
  • Net Real Estate tax is $2,352 for 2010 on the main lot.  
  • So far, that looks like a total of $450.000 -- but it is not.
  • The CFD price for 385 - 3rd Avenue  South is $349.000 (slightly less for a cash offer) -- that's about $42 a square foot! 
  • With good credit we may arrange financing for you...
    A standard CD with $59K down & $288,000 for 30 years is $1,726 per month.  P&I only.
  • Photos and floor plans for all four floors are available at http://www.yourhomenow.com/stc/
    Basement.pdf -- Main.pdf -- Second.pdf -- Third_Floor.pdf
We do not have a real estate agent yet, but will make that connection at the end  of  the month. 
In that case it may add some 4 to 6% (...adds $20-25K) to maintain the same net to us. 

We are open to dual agency if a buyer comes with their own agent.  We hope  for
your successful bid before the end of of the month.  If you need assistance drawing up an offer,
you are welcome to phone or email us. I have a sample purchase document in my car. :)

A number of sales possibilities come to mind: 
  • Cash is preferred (offers  should be accompanied with a refundable earnest 
    money  deposit
    of  $3,000 or more).  Closing should be scheduled within about
    30-60 days.  Please Contact Greg Molenaar -- Ph: 320-224-6603
  • We would consider a Contract for Deed with 25% down payment or an equivalent property trade
    and interest rate at 6% and a slightly higher price.  You must demonstrate reasonable credit.
  • A standard CD with $100K down & $288,000 for 30 years is $1,726 per month.  P&I only.
  • An alternative plan is to find a benefactor (1 or more), to gift the whole property to a
    religious organization that has already agreed to continue restoration. 
  • There is a very interested 501-C3 potential buyer with a committment for part of the down payment,   
    Contributions will be tax deductible. 
  • Please let us know if you are interested in partial funding and we will find backing for the balance.
  • On C for D, construction bonds may need to be discussed, +deposits for taxes & insurance. 
  • A partnership is possible with some groups (Let us hear your suggestions.
  • Trade for an existing finished property(ies) in the St. Cloud area... e.g.1031 in-kind trade. 
  • .  
  • Your ideas?

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Greg  & Rui Molenaar -- Cell Phone:  320-224-6603
Box 411
New London, MN  56273
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Email:  GregMolenaar AT Yahoo.com
=  = = = =

   Floor plans Download PDF:  Basement -- Main -- Second -- Third Floor.

   Prop Addr:      385  3RD AVE S -- St. Cloud,  MN  56301 -- Stearns County GIS Map -- Bing Bird's Eye & Street Map
   Legal Desc:     Sect 14 Townshp 124 Range 028 -- Prop ID = 82.51977 & 82.51589 -- 2010 Tax Bill: $1948.00
Total Sq. ft.=    8,300 -- at $50/square foot = $347,000 -- sitting on over an acre of land, 1 block from SCSU.
   Sample loan:     With a - $59,000 down payment = $288,000 -- 30 years at 6 % interest is about $1726 a month.

 Reduced to $349K before a real estate agent is hired.  Hurry!.

  The Foley House is about 8,300 sq. feet inside, with four levels.   Right now it is just as Spartan as a Beijing apartment.   There is over an acre of grounds, including the ravine lot on the North.  At one time there was a river from Lake George to the Mississippi. 

  Since the fire in 2002, there has been added a new roof, flooring, stud walls and electrical wiring, including CAT-5 Internet cable.  There is some roughed-in plumbing, ., and now the windows are finally in place.  The basement level has five egress windows.  An electronic alarm system was installed in early June.

  We've painted most of the wrought iron perimeter fence and the three iron gates (see above photo). 

  Warren Erickson (Energy Concepts) of Willmar won the bid for replacing the window glass.  Three test windows were installed in September '09 to assure compliance with HPC guidelines and county building codes.   

March-April 2010:  About 50 New Andersen windows have been installed, including the five basement level egress windows and the arched window above the front door. 

  There is an opportunity for several different interior project suppliers to showcase their wares... appliances, kitchen, bathrooms, and interior decorators are welcome to contribute.  What an opportunity for advertisement!   Showcase Construction bids are welcomed.

  We rescued this bit of history from being torn down and replaced by a motel, and with the window installation, we have spent our budget for this year.  Our plan is to continue restoration as a private residence over many years, one level at a time.  Our son may have projects to teach himself.   You may have better ideas?

  Whether simply a private residence, B&B, Coffee house or church, or even student housing... it sure beats tearing down this beauty!  It would make a wonderful Quaker Meeting House, or SCSU office quarters.  If your plans are better than ours, submit your offer.

  We do not plan to have student housing.  Just a quiet place to live.  Maybe Mikka will be a student at SCSU in 16 years.  We have offered the building to the university in a partial donation, a co-sponsor or benefactor is needed.  

  On our own, we will be pleased to finish the main floor kitchen and a sleeping space in my lifetime.   Doors and windows first.  We're not lumber barons or railroad magnates, just a retiring couple with a (almost) three-year-old kid.  We enjoy the neighborhood & college culture.  Yes, we are neighbors to a frat house & sorority house, close to the college.   It is a wonderful neighborhood.

  We may be shoveling neighborhood snow, mowing lawns, and my son may be selling lemonade at the gate.   He needs to start earning his tuition at SCSU. 

...Thank Yahweh, the competitor's financing fell through, and for the watchful eyes at Premier Real Estate.  We are collecting history and news clips.  The St. Cloud museum has a great file to review.

GPS:  N 45d 33.407' W 094d 09.153' -- or -- 45.5565,-94.152 -- Bird's Eye View

           Click on "Bird's Eye" + close up view, and rotate 4 views around the compass.

                                                   (above - before new window installation)
Historical Notes: 

  05 May 1978 -- On the National Historic Registry...
  11 May 2009 -- "One of Minnesota's 10 Most Endangered Historical Places..."
  23 May 2009 -- The missing NHR bronze plaque was returned.
((PHOTO OP-2))

Winter 2009 -- Blacked out Windows -- This was our first glimpse of the Foley House, just a block North of SCSU campus in St. Cloud.  We bought the "Castle" in February 2009, for it's "post card" appearance... Our first look:

From the National Historic Registry (added 1978 - Building - #78001563)
Foley-Brower-Bohmer House
(added 1978 - Building - #78001563)
Also known as Donald J. Bohmer House
                          385 3rd Ave., S., St. Cloud

Historic Significance: Architecture/Engineering, Person
Architect, builder, or engineer: McCleary,J.S., Hussey,A.E.
Architectural Style: Other, Romanesque
Historic Person: Multiple
Significant Year: 1902, 1923, 1889
Area of Significance: Architecture, Industry, Politics/Government
Period of Significance: 1875-1899, 1900-1924
Owner: Private
Historic Function: Domestic
Historic Sub-function: Single Dwelling
Current Function: Domestic
Current Sub-function: Single Dwelling

    The Foley-Brower-Bohmer-Larson (Molenaar) House
    385 - 3rd Ave South
 --  St. Cloud, MN

The Foley-Brower-Bohmer-Larson House was once considered the finest in the city of St. Cloud, Minnesota. There is no doubt that the spectacular house stood out among others back when it was built and continued for decades later. The house was built in 1889 and was designed by architect A.E. Hussey. The construction was estimated to have cost $35,000 -- a substantial amount for that period of time. The Foley-Brower-Bohmer-Larson House has had a handful of prominent residents since it was built, and it continues to stand on 3rd Avenue in St. Cloud next to the St. Cloud State University campus. Its physical features and prominent owners help tell the deep history of the households, which is one of the reasons it became a house on the National Register for Historic Places in 1978. A house so full of history is bound to have many stories to tell, some tragic, and the Foley-Brower-Bohmer-Larson House is no exception.

The house was built by Timothy Foley, the eldest son in a large family from Ontario, Canada. After the Civil War, he made his way to Minnesota with his two brothers, and as a motivated businessman founded the town of Foley, Minnesota.  He was the prime component of the lumber business established by the Foley brothers. He later went on to run a railway company, and he is said to have been in charge of building enough railways to stretch around the world. It was in 1889 that he and his wife Mary built their large home in St. Cloud. They only lived in it until 1895 when Foley moved to St. Paul, and his brother Thomas resided in the home.

Thomas Foley sold the house to Secretary of State P.E. Hanson in 1902. Who then gave the house to his daughter and son-in-law, Ripley Brower. Brower, whose father founded Browerville, Minnesota, was a practicing lawyer in St. Cloud and would also become a Republican State Senator. Brower owned the home until 1923.

It was then that Brower sold his house to another prominent businessman, William Bohmer.  Bohmer owned many businesses throughout his career, a store and  eventually a bank.  His largest achievement was the establishment of his business, the Melrose Granite Company.  William’s son Donald took over the ownership of the house in 1945. Donald and his large family lived in the home until all of his children grew up and moved out in 1979.

The house was then sold to Dr. Keith Larson, a neurosurgeon. Once again this beautiful house was filled with children and family.  Larson and his wife spent countless hours and large amounts of money trying to restore the house. They did this with every effort to maintain the house’s historical integrity. The Larsons were the first owners to open the house for viewing of the public in a house tour in 1992. The viewers were able to witness the Larson’s love for the house, which was quite evident by how much commitment they had put into their home.

The Foley-Brower-Bohmer-Larson House was an intriguing sight to see.
It was built with influences from the architectural style of Richardsonian Romanesque. The red pressed bricks, circular tower, and arched doorways and windows were all exterior features of the house which portray this unique style. One of the house’s most popular and memorable features was the entryway. It contained a breathtaking golden oak staircase and fireplace with Italian woodcarvings of gargoyles. It also included an Italian marble mosaic floor and remarkable stained glass windows. The rest of the first floor was comprised of a parlor, library, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom. When following the marvelous staircase to the second floor, five bedrooms, including a large master bedroom with a separate sitting area, and bathroom could be found. The third floor, the location of the attic, produced a large space often used for hosting dances. The large, expansive house was most intriguing because of its preserved historical integrity, which remained intact until June 17th, 2002 when the devastating fire occurred. 

It was a typical Monday night for the Larson family. All were asleep, except for the hardworking Dr. Larson, who was awake working on the paperwork from the day. It was around 1:15 am that he heard noises that seemed to be coming from the basement. Not soon after, Dr. Larson saw the smoke. It led him to the realization that a fire had begun in the basement. He tried to extinguish it, but soon realized that his efforts were not going to conquer this fire. It was an old house, easily susceptible to the sparks of the blaze. The Larson family escaped the burning house unharmed, and the fire department was called. They arrived shortly after by 1:30am.

Not soon after the firefighters arrived it was apparent that they were going to need reinforcements. When they had arrived there were only fourteen on staff—a smaller amount than what is typical. In all, there were a total of thirty firefighters who were called, and they worked tirelessly to calm the raging fire that was taking over the historic Foley-Brower-Bohmer-Larson House. They worked long into the morning to contain the blaze, and neighbors were soon gathering to look on at the horrible tragedy that was unfolding. The family, neighbors, and community members watched and hoped that the devastation the lashing of the fire was causing would be as minimal as possible.

Days after the fire had been contained and extinguished the Larson family continued to keep their hopes up, but the results were far from their expectations. Workers were still pumping water out of the basement, which had been submerged with the water used to douse the fire. It seemed that the fire had been contained to the point that half of the first and second floors of the house were saved. However, the third floor was a total loss due to the roof collapsing during the blaze. Another result of the tragic fire was the injuries obtained by the firefighters. In all, there were nine rescuers that received minor injuries, such as cuts and smoke inhalation. When all was over, the expected property damage was estimated to be over two million dollars. However, what was really lost was the history that went with the house and that is something that is priceless.

When a fire tears through a home and uproots a family, the loss can be devastating. However, when the fire that struck the Foley-Brower-Bohmer-Larson House on that dreadful early morning, there was much more lost. It was a house well-known in the St. Cloud community and held a long history of prominent previous owners and their families. The house still stands today, and it has a new owner. The attempt to restore the house’s historical beauty has been taken on by its new owner, but it will be a long process that will most likely never be fully achieved.

Addendum by Greg Molenaar -- Chris Jaeger of St. Cloud's 9th Avenue Central Lock Company was responsible for some of the upgrades since the 2002 fire.  Thanks for holding on, Chris.  The Foley House might otherwise have been demolished. 

 ~ ~ There were windows in place for a time, but The Historic Preservation Committee disagreed with the "too modern" reflective low-e glass being used. The city followed suit (literally) to have the windows removed. One may fight City Hall, but one might also lose.   Jaeger spent a lot of time and money, only to be forced into foreclosure. 

The Foley House went windowless against the elements for the next several years, so it seems there was no winner, not the city, not the owner, and certainly not the house.

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota awarded the city's efforts by declaring the Foley House with the title, "One of the Ten Most Endangered Historic Homes of Minnesota" in early 2010.

Most of the original interior woodwork was destroyed by the fire and by water.  Jaeger salvaged a bit of what remained, with the intentions of putting it back in.  However, the cost of refitting old trim is much higher than new construction.  

While the magnificent stairway was nearly a total loss.  Both gargoyle newel posts survived; one was blackened.  One of the original firefighters said they escaped the upper floors by walking the edge of the charred stairway risers;  the steps having been burned away.  A grand piano was found supported only by the carpet perimeter tacks, the flooring had been burned away.   Firemen had also crawled across the carpet.

Our plans for 2009 were to replace the windows.  We did.  First priority was to seal out damaging weather.  This year we hope to have a local plumber showcase the basement and help to plan with adding a furnace.   High velocity heat ducts have been routed to all floors.  Insulation and electrical work have been completed.  The interior is about ready for the sheet rock crews. 

It may take a generation to complete each floor, but who's in a hurry?  Electricity has been restored, and it's being wired for telephone, alarms, and CAT5 internet.   We may be spending weekends "in the castle" for some time.   We found a nearby home to ease commuting costs.  We will consider a partnership to share expenses in the project, someone with wide experience in restoration and building projects. 

We are entertaining the possibility of helping to fund a tax-deductible organization with a healthy donation.
Priests need a place to live too.  Talk to us if you are interested. 

Greg & Rui Molenaar
-- 320.224.6603 -- Qualified buyers call for appointment.
-- The Foley House
385 - South 3rd Avenue
St. Cloud, MN 56301

Information presented here is deemed accurate, but not warranted.

. .


Watch this space for photos & activities

1889 Foley House, with covered front porch, which was removed in 1945


... South View with New Windows in the main structure ...

Ruirui, Mikka, & Greg Molenaar -- GregMolenaar@Yahoo.com
-- The Foley
House, 120 years later --