story and video by Stephen Dafoe
The historic Steffes house, located on the corner of 101 Street and 99 Avenue in the heart of Morinville was built in 1919 and is believed to be the first brick house in the community. Ferd Steffes and his wife Mary Josephine were the original owners of the home.
Today it is the home of Michael Lobsinger and his fiancee Amanda Kieser. Lobsinger and Kieser have spent the last few years renovating the century home and will be wed this summer in the backyard.
“When I bought the house, it was in rough shape,” Lobsinger said. “I bought it with the goal of renovating it so that it would be completed for 2019 being its 100th year birthday.”
Lobsinger said he does not believe it is typical in Alberta to have a home with so much history and beauty. “It also has a really special feeling inside the house,” he said. “Throughout the house, it has a positive energy, and a lot of people in Morinville have stories about the house and shared history about the house.”
Turning the home into his new family home took considerable work. When he bought the house, much of its original fittings were gone – doors, baseboards and other items – which he has been able to replace or recreate.
“Part of the restoration process has been recovering some of the historical items such as the doors and getting it livable so that we could function here as a family, which meant a lot of plumbing work, appliances and just the bare necessities.”
One of the challenges of restoring the home was its original roof, which was leaking.
“I couldn’t afford a new roof, so I entered a contest on the radio station for the Bear and won a new roof installed,” Lobsinger said, adding initial quotes for replacing the roof were in the neighbourhood of $30,000. “That was a big win for the house.”
But the hard work fo rLobsinger himself came when he got on hands and knees to sand and restore the original hardwood flooring. He said he was able to restore about 80 per cent of the home’s original hardwood flooring.
Recently, the couple has renovated the home’s kitchen, updating it with modern appliances and items while maintaining a historical and vintage feel.
But while Lobsinger was falling in love with the home, he was also falling in love with someone who now shares that home.
“When I started this project, it was me and my two sons. I was a single father, and I thought this would be a good way to focus my energy on something positive and show my sons what it takes to make a home nice and make a house a home.”
About three months after the renovation, Lobsinger met Amanda Kieser on a blind date. Lobsinger said Kieser, who is related to the original owners, started helping him and his sons on the project.
“Three years later, we are now engaged to be married. We are getting married in the backyard of this house this summer, partially to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the house, and also to enjoy our shared love of this project and this house, and the fact that this house has blended two families together and created a home for all five of us.”