Biermann House work continues with potential transition this year

Former Olmsted County-owned historic house is expected to find new use with renovation this spring and summer.

The Biermann House Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Rochester.
Joe Ahlquist /

Answer Man: What’s happening with the Biermann House? It still seems to be sitting in disrepair since Olmsted County picked Joe Powers to be the new owner years ago. — Wondering


The saga of the Biermann House transfer dates back to 2019, when the county decided its fate would be better in the hands of a group or individual who could restore the historic structure.

As I mentioned in a 2020 column , the transfer process wasn’t simple. Even though Olmsted County commissioners selected Powers to take over the property, a variety of state restrictions had to be overcome.

Powers worked to shore up the property, but he said he didn’t want to spend too much on the project until he had clear ownership of the property.


Now, with full ownership, Powers recently told one of my minions that he’s moving forward with efforts to restore and use the building that initially served as a home to Norwegian immigrant Adolph Biermann in the late 1800s.

Biermann was an Olmsted County and Minnesota state official, but he also managed and marketed farm products from the land that is now part of the Mayowood Historic District.

As a result, his former home is on the National Historic Registry and was purchased by the county in 1979 with a nearby 70 acres to be used for recreational purposes, but the county decided to sell the house in 2019.

The sale involved seeking proposals, which led to two options: one from Powers and another from the city. A split County Board chose the Powers option , which called for the Rochester business man to help cover some county expenses related to the transfer.

While his initial proposal was to convert the house to some sort of residential property, the goal has shifted. Plans now call for using the site as corporate office space for Powers Ventures.

Barring any issues with Rochester Township approvals, Powers said he expects work on the home to start later this month or in early April.

No design changes are planned for the exterior of the building, but repairs will be made to secure the structure.

“The outside is going to look like the outside did originally, and the inside is pretty much a gut job,” Powers said, who pointed out that much of the interior is “molded out and in pretty rough shape.”


“If the roof had stayed intact, we probably could have saved a lot of it,” he said, pointing out the roof replacement will be the first job tackled when work on the house begins. .

The house sat unused since 1999, when a plumbing leak ended its life as a county-owned rental property,

Once work starts, Powers said he expects construction to take approximately 120 days.

Building knowledge one column at a time. Send questions to Answer Man at .

What To Read Next
Get Local