Aug. 7, 2006

Mansion Antiques opens in Dassel's historic Pankake house

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Donna Larson and Randy Avery opened The Mansion Antiques June 30 in Dassel.

The antique shop features not only antiques, but collectibles and “retro” items, - “anything, everything,” said Larson, originally from Minneapolis.

Larson referred to the house at 241 Sixth Street as a “mansion,” long before the couple decided to give their antique store that name.

Oddly enough, the granddaughter of the original owners, the Pankake family, visited the store this summer and called the house a “mansion,” also, Larson said.

The house was built in 1909 and had elaborate woodwork then. It was remodeled in the mid-50s into a three-plex. The couple use the upstairs as their home, and the street level apartment has been renovated into the antique store.

“It’s still a beautiful house,” Larson said.

The house also has good karma, Larson added. Because the house was near the railroad tracks, and at the edge of Dassel during the 1930s, the Pankakes often fed transients who came through town on box cars during the Great Depression, she said.

Larson watched newspaper ads for the house for six months before she bought it.

“We loved the small town,” she said. “The people here are wonderful and supportive.”

Larson is a hair stylist at a salon in Big Lake. Larson originally had selected Big Lake for her business because it was a small town. Big Lake has grown too large and lost its small town feel, though, she said.

Avery, originally from Forest Lake, had been working at Mid-America Cedar in Osseo and was tired of the long commute. Two years ago, the couple started collecting antiques and interesting knick knacks in a pole barn near their lake cabin. Larson’s hairstyling customers tipped her off about auctions and estate sales where original and unusual items were available, she said.

Larson wanted the store to be the kind of place where customers exclaim, “I’ve been looking all over for that,” she said.

The oldest piece of furniture in the store is a reed and bellows-type organ, from the 19th century. The store also features an antique Victrola that still works, lamps, china, many radios and much antique furniture.

The store sells collectibles such as “minis,” lighters, marbles, religious medals and bar ware. It is organized into rooms with themes. The “kitchen” room has kitchen dishes, pots and pans from every time period, including “retro” from the ‘70s, Larson pointed out.

Larson has been amazed at the interesting collections her customers have. A woman recently bought a hand blown jar for a jar collection, and a man asked for old agricultural advertisements that he wanted for his collection, she said.

The Mansion’s new summer hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The phone number is (320) 275-9147.

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