By ANDREA VARGO
What started out as a road trip 13 years ago, ended with a home in Mesa, Az. for Angela Lachermeier.
Angela and her husband, Ken Kutz, are both originally from the area. Lachermeier graduated from Holy Trinity High School in Winsted, and Kutz graduated from Howard Lake-Waverly.
After graduation, Lachermeier and some other Howard Lake girls left for Riverside, Calif.
On the Oklahoma-Texas border, their car broke down. One of the girls had a brother in Texas, so they stayed with him for a couple of weeks.
Then they flew to Phoenix, where one of the other girls had a cousin. By this time, they were running low on money and had to get jobs.
"Ken came out in 1984, and we were married," said Lachermeier. While in Mesa, both Lachermeier and Kutz worked for Brown and Brown Chevrolet, a new and used car dealership.
They stayed in Mesa, because of the weather, and bought an older home.
"It took three years to renovate the house. It was an older style ranch house in an older neighborhood in the downtown area," she said.
The street lights on Main St. in Mesa were installed by Sterner Lighting Systems, Inc.
"With the plant in Winsted, we got lots of company from home, when workers were sent to Mesa to replace or repair lights," Lachermeier said.
Just having visitors wasn't enough. They wanted to be closer to their families, so they decided to try to find a way to spend winters in Mesa, and summers in Minnesota.
"People keep telling us, if we find the perfect way to do this, to let them know how," said Lachermeier.
In order to have a place to stay when they came to Minnesota, Lachermeier and Kutz purchased the vintage 1865 bank building in Waverly to renovate, she said.
"The upstairs has been completely remodeled into a large open apartment," said Lachermeier.
Indeed, the open spaces created after the walls were removed give the whole apartment a light, airy feeling.
Lachermeier has a special view of the St. Mary's Catholic Church spires out of one window.
One of Lachermeier's special treasures is an old Kelvinator refrigerator.
She finds the neat, old stuff and makes Kutz help with the harder restoration projects.
He works at brother Tom Kutz's body shop and took the refrigerator there for sandblasting and painting.
It is cobalt blue and stands on a rag rug as a showpiece in Lachermeier's kitchen.
Of course, the restoration on the main portion of the bank building is just beginning.
Lachermeier and Kutz have a lot of plans for it. The living quarters upstairs still have lots of finishing touches left on it, and the whole downstairs still needs to be done.
The basement is being used as storage for now, and the main floor is next in line for major repair.
Marble floors need resurfacing and the whole project can be a little overwhelming, she said.
The old vault will be professionally renovated to expose the gold leaf under the grey paint that covers it.
Kutz's office for buying and selling used cars will be in one of the back rooms, and Lachermeier will have a working art studio in the front. She hopes to give classes in the future.
But there is so much work to be done, that they won't even be able to return to Mesa for the winter, this year.
While the weather holds, she will work on the outside of the building on the scaffolding loaned to her by Pat and Molly Van Oss of Howard Lake.
The front of the building is a glazed tile, she said, and it has layers of paint on it. The rest of the building is the soft brick that a lot of the buildings in the area have on their exteriors.
"Seeing what Pat and Molly have done with the Old Town Gallery keeps me motivated," Lachermeier said.
She is also working on the decorative glass windows on the front of the building, trying to beat the cold.
"I'm not sure how I will take the winter. I'm cold now and put on long johns when it reaches 50 degrees," she said.
Now they have an apartment to come to in the summer time, and a home in Mesa for the winter.
This brings up a new set of problems. They need to rent the Mesa home for the summer and probably the apartment for the winter in the future.