Rev. Boutwell House Restoration
Rev. William T. Boutwell arrived in Stillwater, MN in 1847 and settled on a piece of land two miles west of the city where in the 1870s he built his family a house that has, so far, survived the passage time. Today, the Washington County Historical Society and HGTV's Nicole Curtis need your help to restore and preserve this beautiful and historically significant country home.
Soon after settling in Stillwater, Boutwell organized the First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater - becoming essentially the first regular preacher in the area. Boutwell's prestige was acknowledged when he was selected as the first chaplain for the Minnesota Territorial Senate in 1849.
But he certainly didn't confine his life to Stillwater.
He served people at St. Croix Falls, Marine Mills and Cottage Grove. He was later assigned to preach at Point Douglas by the Home Missionary Society.
Boutwell was also a member of the party who discovered the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Expedition leader Henry Schoolcraft wished to give the small lake an appropriately dramatic name and suggested the Greek words for “True” and “Head”. But there was one issue: no-one in the group spoke Greek. Luckily, Boutwell did know Latin. “True Head” becomes “Veritas Caput” in Latin and the name “Itasca” was born from the combination of these two words.
Boutwell's Presbyterian congregation still exists today and his name appears on everything from roads to retirement communities...and yet, on January 12th, 2015, the Township of Stillwater issued a demolition permit for Rev. Boutwell's home. For all intents and purposes, this piece of our shared history now had an execution date.
The Washington County Historical Society took to local media to condemn the planned demolation but more bulldozers and machinery appeared to sit ominiousy on the Boutwell lawn.
On January 29th, the demolition began before an audience of concerned, yet utterly helpless on-lookers. Until suddenly Nicole Curtis of HGTV's "Rehab Addicts" arrived on the scene to negotiate a stay-of-execution for the Boutwell House.
Thanks to her support and the added local and media interest created by her dramatic intervention, the Washington County Historical Society decided it was now feasible to purchase the Boutwell House and the surrounding acres. On May 28th, WCHS crossed all the t's and dotted every i and became the owner of the Boutwell House.
But what's next?
As you can see in the photo above, the house is not in great shape. Before the demolition was haulted, a sizeable chunk of the back of the house was removed. Likewise, years of neglect have left the inside of the house in poor condition.
WCHS has already made the sizeable down-payment and the House and surrounding property belong to the Historical Society. We now need to raise money to complete the restoration and preservation of the Boutwell House.
1) Restore the exterior of the home to it's original condition. Thankfully, the house truly hasn't changed much since the ca. 1910 photograph above which makes this an ideal candidate for a restoration project.
2) Secure a place on the National Register of Historic Places for the Boutwell House. Once the exterior of the home is returned to it's original condition, we will begin applying for National Register status which will protect the home in the future.
3) Renovate the interior of the home. After being abandoned for years, the inside of the house definitely needs work especially because of our final goal...
4) Return ownership of the Bouwell House back to either a family or organization. We hope to quickly renovate the exterior to historical standards and interior to modern standards so a new family can add their own history to the House's already impressive story.
Thank you for visiting our GoFundMe page and for your assistance in preserving our community's history.
For more information visit wchsmn.org.
Besides the Northern Bedrock Preservation Corps visit to clean up the debris at the property and restore Rev. Boutwell's family cemetery ( http://www.northernbedrockconservationcorps.org/2016/02/rev-william-t-boutwell-house-cemetery-stillwater-minn/) the portion of the house destroyed in the aborted demolition has now been enclosed.
We are now in the process of gathering bids and proposals for the restoration of the building's interior!
Thanks for all your support!