Gehlen House Restoration Begins

Sunday, July 27th, 1997, the restoration team from Luxembourg, Europe arrived in St. Donatus, Iowa—weary from a long flight—but still excited enough to stop and look over the project they would start on early the next day. Stone mason Guy Thomas, his wife Roberte and foremen from his work crews in Luxembourg, along with Ferdy Dumont would begin a two week “vacation” to restore the exterior of the Gehlen House.

The crew started each day early in the morning—taking only a short break midday for lunch and working until six or seven at night. The entire group stayed at the Gehlen House and ate their meals at Kalmes’ Restaurant across the street. Generous donations of food and desserts were made by many supportive friends and neighbors.
In the evening—the crew enjoyed a variety of activities during their stay. Bowling, auto shows, shopping, a sight seeing trip to Chicago and a farewell party were just some of the fun activities.

Other visitors from Luxembourg, also stayed at the Gehlen House during the restoration work. They included Fred Ludwig, Franz Muller, Mr. & Mrs. Rosch Kriebs and Paul Lenert. Staying with Ron & Kim Simon of St. Donatus was a university student—she interviewed towns people, measured and photographed the old buildings for an article she will be publishing. Journalist Rosch Kriebs wrote numerous articles about the restoration for a Luxembourg magazine during his stay. Journalist Paul Lenert also interviewed townspeople and visitors for an article in the Luxembourg paper. Mr. Lenert also conducted a contest in his newspaper column. Grand prize to the winner was a four night stay at the Gehlen House with complimentary meals from Kalmes Restaurant.

Other visitors to St. Donatus during the restoration were Eric Picarid and Billy Ehnen from Luxembourg. Billy and Eric were the very first Luxembourgers to stay at the Gehlen House when it opened June 23rd, 1996.

During the two week restoration, visitors from all over the mid-west as well as Luxembourg came to watch the crew at work.

Sunday, August 10th the workers headed back to the Europe—tired and proud of the work they had accomplished in just two weeks. Now we can begin looking forward to the next phase of the project—when the team returns to stucco the back of the Gehlen House.



Dominique Onraet working on the front door

Fernando Merques on the top level watching while

Arnaldo Montriro sends up a bucket of strucco.

Guy Thomas showing one of the new doors that was donated and brought over from Luxembourg.

One of the last jobs that year was installing the plaque on the outside of the Gehlen House.

The plaque

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