USD President Sheila Gestring and her family moved into the renovated Inman House after Christmas.
The main floor of the house was open to the public for the third time in a tour sponsored by First Dakota Title. Earlier this year, the Gestrings hosted a holiday party and a dinner at the house.
Brian Limoges, director of construction service, said the project started with former USD President James Abbott, but the gears shifted once Gestring took over.
“It was kind of funny because he (Abbott) had some very particular tastes, and she (Gestring) was a lot more laid back,” Limoges said. “She’s very cost conscientious, so she wasn’t willing to spend on extravagant stuff upstairs in the family’s quarters.”
One of the goals of the renovation was to make the house more family-oriented and open, Laura McNaughton, USD chief of staff, said.
“It was very small and not liveable,” McNaughton said. “I mean when it was just President Abbott and his wife it was fine, but with adding…a couple of kids it just needed to be upgraded.”
Before the building was the Inman House, it served as the alumni office, which made for small, broken up rooms, McNaughton said.
“When we had the open house at Christmas time, I met a woman that had worked here,” she said. “Her office was the bedroom upstairs.”
On the main floor, the family kitchen was expanded to the west by removing a porch and blowing out a wall, Limoges said.
“The island was barely big enough for three people to sit at and it wasn’t wide enough to really put anything on the island,” he said. “Now you have that huge island with all that cabinetry, and it’s really the size of the kitchen that it should be for the house.”
In addition, a separate catering kitchen was created for events commonly held at the house in place of where the old garage was, McNaughton said.
“Our caterers are very excited to have this space, because they just didn’t have any sort of options before,” she said.
Limoges said catering for events was difficult before the remodel.
“Any time there was an event they would cater, they would have to plate in the garage and carry the food up the steps,” he said. “Then the old kitchen was unusable by the family because caterers were in there trying to clean and serve.”
Now a door separating the two kitchens allows Gestring’s children to get a drink or food during an event. A new public Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) bathroom also eliminates any disturbance to the family’s private area.
“The only bathroom on the main floor was the one off the family kitchen and so everybody during an event had to go through the family kitchen to go to that bathroom,” Limoges said.
There is also a new ADA ramp that goes straight into the house, instead of around the garage and onto the deck. The new garage is to the south of the house and now is a three-stall instead of a one-stall garage.
The deck was extended, but the sunroom was removed in order to make room for a larger dining area.
The first two rooms on the main floor had to be renovated alongside the South Dakota National Historical Society, Limoges said.
Where a mural was hung in the ceiling of the entryway, there is now a LED chandelier that still matches the historical time period. Other changes to the front part of the house include stainied hardwood to match the updated floors in the rest of the house and new white paint.
The private family quarters upstairs was in need of bigger bedrooms and additional bathrooms and closets to suit a family, McNaughton said.
“It was a lot of reconfiguring so that the front two bedrooms could have their own closets,” she said. “They built a bathroom where an office used to be and then built above where the catering kitchen is just so that there’s more space.”
Limoges said the old bedrooms didn’t really count as useable bedrooms.
“There was a bed, but there weren’t really any closets to put anything in,” he said. “So now you actually have three nice big bedrooms, plus you have that extra room over the garage.”
Now the house has three full bathrooms and two half baths.
The room built over the garage serves as a family room, which Keith Gestring, Sheila Gestring’s husband, said was his favorite part of the renovation.
“It’s just a nice gathering place for us to sit around as a family,” he said.
Keith Gestring also said his children enjoy the better WiFi in town.
As of now, there are no official plans for the property next door, also purchased by the USD Foundation, besides protecting it as a historical building, McNaughton said.
“It will kind of marry with this house so that there can be some event space over there and you know whatever they need as well,” she said. “I presume they’ll do some apartments or something above, but I don’t think that there’s been any real fleshed out plans yet.”