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Grown-up babies reunion held

Fri, Oct 11th, 2002
Posted in Features

“This is a house of healing,” Nancy Huisenga said matter of factly. “We like our guests to feel a sense of healing when they come here, a place to relax from their busy lives and restore themselves.” The “house” Nancy is referring to is the Habberstad House Bed and Breakfast in Lanesboro. The modern inn, which has been restored to its turn of the century prominence, has a history of “healing”, having once served as a general hospital in the town.The Queen Anne style house, situated on a quiet tree-lined street in the south part of the city, was built by prominent citizen Olaf Habberstad in 1897. He lived there until his death in 1935. From that time onward, the house has served as a residence, a hospital, a nursing home, boarding house, and now bed and breakfast. On Sunday, October 6, Nancy and her husband David hosted a reunion for when the house served as a hospital operated by Dr. Ralph Johnson, inviting grown-up babies born under the care of Dr. Johnson to an open house. Dr. Johnson, a general practitioner, ran the Johnson Hospital for eight years beginning in 1945. And what today are now parlors, bedrooms and dining rooms in the bed and breakfast, once served as patient wards as well as surgery in the hospital. A reading room that adjoins the second floor Rose Room today was the birthing room in the hospital back then. Dr. Johnson’s daughter, Carol Rustad of Lincoln, Nebraska was guest of honor at the reunion. Rustad talked briefly about her father, the role of the hospital in the community and her father’s love for the Lanesboro community. “We were fond of chicken back then,” Rustad recalled, noting the fact that doctors were as likely to be paid in barter as in money.About 150 people visited the Habberstad House on Sunday, many of them “grown-up babies”, mothers of grown-up babies or tag-along family members. And others were just plain curious, interested in the role the house played in Lanesboro’s history. Julia Borgen who lives nearby stopped by for the open house. “I wasn’t born here (Habberstad House) , but my brother was,” the life-long Lanesboro resident said. “They have really fixed that place up. It was good to come today.”The Huisenga’s have owned the bed and breakfast for two years. They have re-painted the outside, added an addition to the house and built a carriage house. They have also done considerable landscaping to the grounds adding a large fountain. Nancy, a nurse who works from home for a medical firm in San Francisco, and David, a retired EMT/Fireman from St. Paul, both feel the healing qualities of the place they now call home. So much so in fact that they opened their home to many past visitors - some of whom began their first days on earth in the comforts of the old house.

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