History house

The Rev. Carol Carroll greeted groups of Wadena-Deer Creek sixth graders with "merry Christmas everyone" as they entered the Merickel mansion for a tour Dec. 13.

The Rev. Carol Carroll greeted groups of Wadena-Deer Creek sixth graders with "merry Christmas everyone" as they entered the Merickel mansion for a tour Dec. 13.

The sixth-grade classes and second-grade classes accepted Carroll's invitation to visit the mansion during the Christmas season.

Carroll gave each class a brief history and tour of the home.

She told the students how the historic home came into her hands. She made an agreement with Ted Merickel to take over ownership of the mansion in 2003, she said.

"That's when I stepped into the picture of the Merickel mansion," she said.


She told the kids she is on a mission to restore the home.

Carroll asked the students if they remembered when the windows were boarded up. Many of them nodded "yes."

The boards were there because the windows were knocked out, she said. Inside the house everything was just hanging and torn, she said. The house was full of junk.

"I walked in and I didn't know where to start," she said.

The discovery of an original stained glass window underneath an overgrowth of vines showed that the dilapidated house was once a fine home in Wadena, however.

The house was built in 1886 by William Baumbach, a banker who had several other businesses, Carroll said. A.J. Merickel bought the home in 1907 as part of a package deal to buy the bank from Baumbach, she said. Maurice and Louise Merickel and then Ted Merickel were other owners of the home.

Carroll told the students about the fires that have blackened the inside of the home over the years. The soot was so bad when she first came to the mansion that she became sick after the first month and a half.

"I thought all the soot was killing me," she said. "Everything was black."


Most of the first level is repainted. But, during the tour, Carroll made sure the students saw the bathroom where the walls are still black with soot. She wanted the students to understand better what the house looked like when she came, she said.

Carroll showed the kids the tiny kitchen where she has a bed set up for sleeping. Her upstairs bedroom is unheated.

As they passed through the dining room, many of the kids commented on the stained glass window declaring it "cool" and "awesome."

"The floors are very pretty," commented one girl while examining an inlaid section of the wood floors.

While the students were fascinated by the architecture and antique furniture in the house, one subject kept popping up from the moment they entered the house until after the tour.

"I know you've all heard terrific stories about the mansion," Carroll said. "I've heard them, too."

The first thing she heard when she came to the mansion was that the house was haunted, she said.

Carroll assured the kids the rumors are not true.


There's nothing in the house to be afraid of, she said. There's peace here and a whole lot of love.

"Take it home with you," she said. "No ghosts here."

Some students were less convinced than others, though.

"I still think this place is haunted," said one girl to a friend during the presentation. "It scares me."

Caitlyn Jacquart and Lindsay Carpenter had differing views about the possibility of ghosts in the mansion after the tour.

Lindsay didn't think the house was haunted, she said.

Caitlyn said, "I think it is."

She didn't have visions of scary ghosts, however.


"Even if it is haunted they're probably good," Caitlyn said.

While Carroll was on the subject of ghosts she let the students know that she is hoping to have a costume party for Halloween next year. She also told them about other plans for kids events at the mansion. Several girls enthusiastically raised their hands when Carroll asked if they would be interested in a little ladies and young ladies of the mansion program. Some boys also indicated they were interested in learning manners.

During the tour Carroll told the children there was one thing she wanted to make sure they knew. And that is how special and important they are.

"If you believe in something with all of your heart it will happen," she told the students as they sat quietly. "Every one of you has a special talent and a special gift."

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