The Mansion on a Hill

Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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Sounds like Linda and I could be moving.
She saw the story in the paper this week about the Van Epps mansion being up for grabs and she would love to grab it.
We’ve lived in the same neighborhood in our same little ranch house since we got married ah..let’s see…twenty…ah…twenty four?…yeah, 24 years ago.
But each time we’re anywhere near the cathedral district we have to drive by and look at all the magnificent old houses and dream.
Two stories..three stories high some with domes, some with lacy wooden scrollwork trim on porch and gable roofs. Some are made out of Sioux Falls quartzite..a hard pink granite that was quarried just a few miles east of town.
Still so strong are these mighty mansions that after 120 years  a direct hit by a South Dakota force 5 tornado or a whole pack of huffing/puffing big bad wolves could never budge them.
As we slowly pass by these architectural masterpieces, Linda will usually say the obligatory, “boy, I’d hate to have to wash all those windows.” And, my obligatory response; “Honey, if we could afford to live there, we could probably afford to hire someone to do the windows.”
Then she gets rather serious and says, “Wouldn’t it be fun, though, to have a big beautiful place like that and fix it up?”
“Yeah, it sure would,” I’d say knowing there was no chance of us ever doing it.
But now, the glorious Van Epps mansion at 8th and Minnesota is not only available as a fixer-upper, it’s being offered FREE to anyone who will move it to another location! The owners will even give the TAKER ten grand to help the relocation cost. Otherwise, it’s going to be torn down. 
(For pictures and a guided tour, click here.)
Once surrounded by stately elm trees and a big yard, the Van Epps mansion was perfectly located so its enterprising occupant, Inez Van Epps had a grand view of the growing city which had provided her late husband, William, with the golden opportunity to earn a fortune.
Inez, a musician and singer, would often open her beautiful home for concerts and other artistic presentations which must have been a god-send to those who had left such refinements behind when they came out west which was still pretty rough around the edges.
I’ve only been inside the big blue house on the corner of 8th and Minnesota once. It was many years ago, when the first floor had been converted into a nifty gift shop.
Now, the old structure seems out of place; an island amid a sea of concrete and it has to go.
She didn’t say it, but I could hear Linda thinking..“could it go to US?  The price is right!”
I have to admit that it would be kinda nice..but poor Linda  has to accept the reality that she’s married to a klutz who cannot be trusted with power tools much less the responsibility of anything remotely approaching a restoration project as demanding as the Van Epps home. Plus it would cost a least 150 thousand for a lot and to move it there. Triple that for the cost of restoring and furnishing and, well, even though I got my first social security check today, 14 hundred a month won’t cover it.
Besides, in a couple years, all those stairs each night would be as challenging for us as a trek up Harney Peak.
She’ll thank me for being so “level” headed about this…I’m almost sure she will.

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