The Alfred Berry House

111 Bryant Ave NE, Hector

In 1901 this stylish Victorian was built for Alfred Berry of the Berry Brothers Flour Company in Hector, Minnesota (just 90 miles west of Minneapolis). Amazingly this home was owned by three generations of Berrys from first construction up to 1997, when the last Mrs. Berry passed away. Across the street was the Berry Brothers Flour Mill built in 1899, shown in the photo below. It burned down in 1977.

What I find most intriguing about this home is its story of survival, passed on to me by the current owner. Too many times our historic homes and buildings are cast aside or torn down for something newer and uglier, especially in rural areas of Minnesota. Their vast size and ornate decorations are looked upon as burdens to neighborhoods or cities, without any vision or forward thinking of what they could once again become. Preservation is dear to my heart, and I am very happy to see the Berry House saved from an ugly fate.

In 2006, before the current owner purchased the home, it was slated to go into Section 8 housing by the Minneapolis owner who used it as a rental. The old radiator pipes had been neglected and allowed to freeze, thus rendering them useless, and the rest of the home was in a rapidly declining state. Even though there was a ton of work to do, the new owners had a vision of bringing the home back to its former glory and set out on a restoration project that still continues today. What they have accomplished is simply beautiful, and the residents of Hector are happy to see this home brought back to life.

 The Berry House (Before 2006)

 

The Berry House (After Restoration)
Original Photo of the Home with the Berry Family

If you would like to view additional photos of the renovation, please visit the home owners website or the archived listing on OldHouses.com.

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4 Responses to “The Alfred Berry House”

  1. Cassandra says:

    They did a great job on the renovations. Love how you include the history too!

  2. Martha Decker says:

    We are descendants of Gustav Berry (originally Börjesson) who was Alfred Berry’s Swedish immigrant and Civil War vet father. His house is also still standing in Hector as well, though he died very soon after it was built, leaving his 3rd son (of 6 sons) Alfred as the patriarch in Hector. The Hector cemetery is full of Berrys, including Gustav and his feisty wife Mary Charlotte who managed on her own with 2 very young boys on their farm near Carver during the Sioux Uprising while Gustav was away at war with the 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery. There is also a large Berry family plot in Norwood where Gustav’s 1st son Charles and 4th son Oscar and some of their descendants are buried.

    The Berry Brothers had this mill in Hector, but they also had a mill in Buffalo Lake, a mill in Norwood (which is where our Berrys were) and a warehouse in St. Paul. They did quite well until the 1920’s when cornfields were overtaking wheat fields, not a little mismanagement took place, and (according to one of the Berry men) legislation was pushed through by the “big boys” in Minneapolis made it hard for small millers to survive. All of the mills are gone; the Norwood mill was razed in the late 1970’s and I am unsure what happened to the Buffalo Lake mill and St. Paul warehouse.

    Alfred’s house does have one tragic story to tell. He had two girls, Rachel and Ivey, from his first marriage (that ended with the death of his wife.) The girls lived with Alfred and his 2nd wife Minnie until they were 15 and 16. In 1906, they were left to babysit their half brother, 2-year-old Lincoln, and they had him in their room in the attic where it was so cold his diaper froze. The boy took sick and died; Minnie (who wasn’t overly fond of the girls to begin with) blamed them for the loss of her son and expelled them from their father’s house. They lived with their Grandmother Mary Charlotte for a short time and were then sent to live with their Uncle Henry (the youngest Berry brother) in St. Paul.

    • Karen Wells says:

      I owned the Gustav Berry’s house from 2004-2011. Our goal had been to restore it to original but it became a larger project than my ex husband and I could handle. While kicking down the ceilings of the 2nd floor we discovered personal items of Amanda Berry’s, including a book written in Swedish with Amanda’s name written in the cover and her marriage license from January 1st, 1902 still in its original envelope. I donated these items to the Hector historical society. I will always regret not being able to complete what I had envisioned for that house. We had been able to uncover a large section of the original wallpaper and ceiling paper in the parlor and were planning on having a reproduction of it made.

  3. […] Photo credit: Historic Homes of Minnesota […]

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