A new look for the old mansion
A firm foundation and a fresh coat of white paint are the latest renovations to the old Merickel home on Second Street now called the Miracle Mansion. The Rev. Carol Carroll sees the changes as nothing less than miraculous.
"All I want to do is point to the mansion and say look what the Lord had done!" Carroll said.
A little more than a month ago Carroll suffered a major disappointment when she lost a federal grant to help repair the mansion after the state historical society told her the building would have to be repaired to their specifications and the bank turned her down for a loan.
"When it crumbled down, I crumbled down," Carroll admitted. She even considered selling the historic home.
God spoke to her heart and told her he didn't send her to fail, she said. And a man named "Ed" whom Carroll describes as a "common sense man" stepped up to help advise her on how to renovate the house, she said.
"I feel like the Lord has taken me back under his wings," she said. "I feel very protected again."
Tom Anderson, who runs Horizon Restoration and Painting in Wadena agreed to start the paint job this fall. He and his wife befriended Carroll a few years ago.
"It just kind of interested us, this beautiful place that's falling apart," Anderson said about what attracted them to the property.
Carroll was devastated when the grant fell through, he said. Anderson encouraged her to hang in there, he said.
He could tell by her voice that he could not let her down, he said.
Anderson told Carroll the work would need to be done right away because of the season, he said. His sons, Tanner and Riley, came up from St. Cloud to help.
"I am still amazed we did what we did," Anderson said.
They worked methodically so the paint will stick, he said. They used a special paint that will cure quickly. The home looks good, he said.
"This shows that the house is worthy of fixing up," Anderson said. "I think a lot of people thought this was a lost cause."
He was surprised by how much good wood was on the house, he said. They marked some areas for replacement in the spring when they finish painting the remaining two sides of the house.
Scraping started on Tuesday with more scraping and painting on Wednesday, Carroll said. Thursday was the big work day. There were as many as 10 people working, she said.
Work on the foundation was completed on Saturday. A work day a local church had planned for Oct. 25 didn't materialize so Carroll and her grandchildren helped prepare the foundation for workers, she said.
The workers then sealed the foundation, secured the iron beams in the basement and repaired the rotten boards.
"This house isn't going anywhere," she said.
The old beams in the basement are still holding the house up, she said. It was the water that crumbled the foundation.
The painting ended Sunday night when Tanner put the finishing touches on the front of the house, she said.
"We are a bunch of exhausted people," she said.
The past week was such a whirlwind that it hasn't sunk in yet what was accomplished, Carroll said.
"Only the Lord could do something like this in six days," she said.
She believes God has more plans for the future.
"People don't know yet what God's about to do," she said.
She is working with her bank in Henning to get the finances she needs, she said. She plans to pay Ted Merickel off before the December deadline. She talked to her banker and asked him what she needed to do to save the mansion and he told her she would have to sell her Hewitt home. She's been hanging on to it, but now she is ready to let that home go and move into the mansion, she said.
Anderson said Carroll really wants to see the mansion flourish.
Carroll plans to turn the Miracle Mansion into a bed and breakfast. It will also be a location for seminars and meetings. Carroll even hosted a luncheon for a group of ladies from the Verndale Alliance Church on the big work day Thursday.
She told the ladies they had come on a day when God was taking control of everything, she said.
The Miracle Mansion is not a church, but she wants to be in unity with the churches in the community, Carroll said. She can have a ministry without it interfering with the bed and breakfast.
"People need fellowship ... and to hear about the Lord and to have a good time," she said. "On the flip side they need to know it's real, heaven's real, hell is real. It's not a joke. It's real."
She's an evangelist at heart, she said.
It feels different now knowing this will be her home, she said. She doesn't know for sure everything that it will be.
"But God is doing what he spoke to my heart," she said. "It's coming forward."