Newly Renovated Historic Charm

  • Explore Marine

    The Asa Parker House comes with the beautiful community and landscapes of Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota. Marine is located on the scenic St. Croix River on MN-95, 12 miles north of 36, 10 miles from Stillwater. It's the oldest civilian settlement in Minnesota and in 1838, became the site of the state's first commercial sawmill, which was also the state's first industry.


    Photography by Kristinhovden, Wikipedia.

    Skiing Wonderland

    Jessie Diggins won America's first gold in Olympic cross-country skiing in 2018. She grew up learning to ski along the St. Croix River Valley with her teammate Kikkan Randall on historic ski trails carved out by locals themselves, which are open for all to enjoy.

    Nature Haven

    Acres of diverse parkland and reserves preserve the natural fauna and flora of Minnesota. Parks such as Big Marine Park Reserve and St. Croix State Park allow visitors to engage in recreational and conservation activities and appreciate the natural world.

  • Contact Us

  • Be the New Owner

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    Do you binge watch renovation shows?

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    Intrigued by the idea of owning your own historical home?

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    Love the idea of a restoration project but hate the idea of living through it?


    This house could be yours.

    The Asa Parker House is looking for a new owner. We’re restoring the house, an 1850s' house in Minnesota, into a comfortable home a modern family will cherish. We're midway through demo, and the major works started Summer 2018. The house is slated for completion in 2019. After that, the house will be put up for sale to the public, and you'll have the chance to make it your own.


    Come along on the journey as we renovate this historic building. What do you do with a cistern in the basement? How do you replace an old roof with a built-in gutter system circa 1856 with current roof designs? Most importantly, will this house be your home?

    New Unique Features

    The house will have an all-modern, eco-friendly touch to give your family the latest technological conveniences with exquisite historical flair.

    Fine Furniture

    All Architect Series products feature distinctive, fine-furniture detailing that adds drama and architectural interest to your home, inside and out.

    Authentic Look

    Pella's Integral Light Technology® grilles create the realistic look of divided light while providing exceptional energy efficiency.

    Stunning Hardware

    The windows will have stunning hardware in rich patinas from Pella's own collection of hardware styles and finishes

  • The History

    Learn about the people and events surrounding the house.

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    Who was Asa Parker?

    Asa Parker was a pioneer who, with a team from New England, founded a sawmill and lumber business in Marine. The sawmill and its lumber business were the first industrial enterprise in what became Minnesota; thus, the sawmill can be said to be the start of Minnesota’s major economy.


    Parker had the house built in 1856 to welcome his Southern bride. The house became known as the "grandest Classical Revival House in the St. Croix Valley." The four Ionic columns supporting the two-story detached portico were reportedly brought by steamboat from St. Louis, and the roses, which still bloom in the yard today, are said to have been planted by the young Mrs. Parker.

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    Start of the Sawmill

    St. Louis, perceived as the gateway to the west, attracted groups of Easterners hoping to make their mark. Among them were people from New England. They observed that construction in the St. Louis area was based on hardwoods, which were native to the area, but construction would be easier with pine, such as the trees growing in Maine and Vermont.


    In 1837, the US government took title to a large area of the upper Mississippi watershed from the Ojibwe and Dakota people. The area was reputed to have extensive pine forests. One of the New Englander groups sensed opportunity in cutting pine up north and then selling it down in St. Louis and headed out to scout potential sites.

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    First Lumber

    The New Englander group hired a steamboat in 1838 and selected what we now know as Marine on St. Croix as a sawmill site because of its hydropower. Local settlements at the time were Fort Snelling, Mendota, and scattered farms south along the Mississippi. The area was part of Wisconsin Territory, as the states of Wisconsin or Minnesota had not yet existed.


    Parker's group cut its first lumber in 1839. Working out of a village consisting of rudimentary housing, Parker and his team would cut pine logs during the winter, float them down the St. Croix to the mill and then on to St. Louis in the spring, and cut lumber and grow food for the community throughout the summer.

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    Building on Success

    By the end of the 1840s, the lumber enterprise had grown substantially, and the US government granted ownership of Marine and significant pine forests to the holder of the original land claim, the sawmill company.


    Property records reveal the business was a partnership of seven with nine shares. Asa Parker and Orange Walker were the dominant partners, each holding an extra share. Further evidence of their leadership can be found on the Marine plat map showing the footprints of their houses by name, an unusual addition to a plat map.


    Walker was primarily in charge of the mill operations, and Parker oversaw the pineries. As partners in the company, they were partial owners of much of today’s Marine.

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    Opportunities and the Future

    Asa Parker's sawmill company story demonstrates the willingness to run with opportunity and to take on big risks. As Minnesota became a state in 1858, settlements in the area grew and became self-sufficient, and competitors began sprouting up.


    The mill went bankrupt in the 1880s and eventually went out of business. The Parker family sold their house in 1901 to longtime Marine general store owner Charles Strand, whose family lived there until the 1950s. Now, the house is being prepared for a new modern family...


    Fun Facts

    • The Asa Parker House was the first house in Marine, MN with a flush toilet.
    • The original house was added onto two or three times.
    • There is a large cistern in basement.
    • The house's fraternal twin, built by Parker’s business partner Orange Walker on an adjacent lot, burned down in 1954.
    • The house was an operational bed and breakfast for 25 years (1990 – 2015).

  • A Timeline

    Then, Now, and Beyond


    Parker and his group start the first commercial sawmill on the St. Croix River in 1838.


    The house is built in 1856. The sister house is built later on an adjacent lot.


    Minnesota becomes a state in 1858. The house receives an addition. The sawmill goes bankrupt in the 1880s and eventually goes out of business.


    The Parker family sells the house to Charles Strand in 1901, and he and his family live there until the 1950s. The sister house burns down in 1954.


    Jack and Janice Warren move to Marine. The house operates as a bed and breakfast for 25 years (1990 – 2015).


    The house is bought for renovation. Arch work begins August 2016, and the first round of demolition begins.


    A contractor is selected in the spring of 2018, and the second round of demolition begins in July. Hagstrom begins in August 2018.


    Potential completion of the renovation is scheduled for July 2019.

  • House Restoration

    We'll be preserving the character of the original structure while making it comfortable for a modern family.



    Hire an architect that specializes in renovating historic homes.



    Find a contractor with the same specialty.



    Remove unwanted and unsafe structures.



    Build and rebuild.


    Finish Out

    Include period details to this historic building

  • Our Plans

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    1. Retain the main house and remove the decaying, out-of-character addition from 1890's.

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    2. Update and solidify the foundation to support the structure adequately.

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    3. Build an addition that is true to the original structure with modern services (HVAC, electrical, water, etc.) in the basement, which will include a state-of-the-art kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom.

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    4. Restore period details throughout the original house, including in the living room, office and spacious master bedroom suite. Also refinish wood floors and doors, and replicate period millwork.

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    5. Redo the roof and gutter system.

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    6. Add new windows custom-designed for the house (Pella Architect Series® hung windows) and spray foam insulation.

  • Our Partners

    With a historic home in serious disrepair, where do you start? Hire an architect that specializes in renovating historic homes. Once you have plans, find a contractor with the same specialty.

    Hagstrom - The Builder

    Serving the Twin Cities, Minnesota and Naples, Florida, Hagstrom Builder constructs, renovates and remodels one-of-a-kind dream homes. No Shortcuts. Ever. The spread a culture of respect and kindness among their employees, their clients, and their community.

    Eric Hansen - The Architect

    Eric J. Hansen, AIA have been specializing in residential design, interiors, lighting, cabinetry and renovation for over 20 years. Their timeless designs endure through quality and excellent collaboration with their clients.

  • Demolition

    The modifications that turned the Asa Parker House into a bed and breakfast were the first casualties in the demo work. We also removed some fixtures and trim to use later in the remodel. We removed non-functioning chimneys, electrical fixtures, plumbing, and a lathe. It’s been a complete gut job.

  • Moving to Marine

    The Asa Parker House comes with the beautiful community and landscapes of Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota. Marine is located on the scenic St. Croix River on MN-95, 12 miles north of 36, 10 miles from Stillwater. It's the oldest civilian settlement in Minnesota and in 1838, became the site of the state's first commercial sawmill, which was also the state's first industry.

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    What is there to do in Marine when you're not cozy inside your Asa Parker House? The welcoming Minnesota warm seasons are crisp and perfect for hiking along the St. Croiz River or exploring national parks. You won't have to worry about the winter being dull, either. Marine has a rich cross-country skiing history, which includes the oldest ski race in the Midwest, the annual Marine O'Brien Cross-Country Ski Race.

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    Photo from marineobrien.com.


    Skiing is a big tradition in humble Marine. Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins, who won America's first gold in Olympic cross-country skiing with her teammate Kikkan Randall, grew up learning to ski along the St. Croix River Valley, including on William O'Brien State Park trails in Marine. In fact, long before these trails were groomed, residents made their own ski paths on and out of everything outside their front door, from the town streets to the railroad tracks. Marine's very own historic general store, open for nearly 150 years, has a ski shop upstairs.

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    Historic Downtown

    Original Greek Revival architecture standing, Marine's historic downtown is a testament to the first lumbermen of its history and a preservation of old New England charm. The town square encompasses structures such as the old Marine General Store, the Christ Lutheran Church, and the Stone House Museum. Stopping by the post office, the library, or the ice cream shop, you'll feel transported to the 1800s, as the community--maybe including you--is proud to maintain its small-town, historic atmosphere.


    Photo by McGhiever, Wikipedia.

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    William O'Brien State Park

    William O'Brien State Park is a diverse ecosystem made up of a glacial moraine, riparian zones, a restored oak savanna, wooded areas, and bogs. It's also made accessible by walking and skiing trails, and you can catch a breath at the year-round, heated Visitor's Center.


    The park accommodates several recreational activities, such as boating, fishing, camping, and swimming. Hikers may come across white-tailed deer, foxes, beavers, and woodchucks. Birdwatchers can spot various birds of prey and songbirds. You can have a picnic by a bench, or you can venture out and embrace the Minnesota wilderness.


    Photo from www.marineonstcroix.org.

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    Marine Mill Site

    Do you want to see where it all began and ended with the sawmill? The Minnesota Historical Society preserves what's left of the mill after its abandonment in 1895. Remnants of the mill can still be found on the site.


    Photo by McGhiever, Wikipedia.

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    Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center

    The Lee and Rose Warner Nature Center's mission is "to build lasting relationships between people and the natural world." The outdoor educational facility focuses on natural history and is situated on undeveloped woodland, marsh, lake, bog, and grasslands.


    Their public programs include summer camps for kids and adults, birthday parties, and custom booking for canoeing, snowshoeing, raptor meetings, and maple syruping. You can get involved by donating and volunteering.


    Photo from www.stcroixsplash.org.

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    Square Lake Park

    Square Lake's exceptional water quality means it's the clearest Minnesota spot for scuba diving and swimming. Square Lake Park, conveniently stretching along a County bike route, also features a golden 950-foot sandy beach with full facilities and services, including restrooms and changing rooms, picnic tables, grills, and lifeguards. If you're wanting to make friends outside your Asa Parker House, this eco-friendly park attracts people from all over the Metropolitan Region.


    Photo from www.co.washington.mn.us.

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    Big Marine Park Reserve

    Big Marine Park, opened in 2008 and growing to be 1,800 acres of a natural upland and wetland habitat, with 80% set aside for preservation and protection, offers all-day family outings, including hiking trails, guided hikes, a picnic pavilion, and its iconic fishing pier. It also features a sprawling playground estate for kids.


    Photo from www.co.washington.mn.us.

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    St. Croix State Park

    St. Croix State Park is Minnesota's largest state park with over 34,000 acres and three family campgrounds, and there's no shortage of things to do. You can take a scenic tour using paved bike paths and trails for hiking, horse-riding, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. If water is more your element, there are sites for fishing, canoeing, and swimming. To get your educational fix, you can participate in some of the nature programs and visit cultural sites and more.


    Photo from www.exploreminnesota.com.