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'Crookston castle' attracts hundreds as owner puts it up for sale

CROOKSTON--Darrell Hursman has been building his dream home in Crookston for more than 20 years. Now it's time to pass the dream onto someone else, the Grand Forks man said Thursday. "For me, it was really good therapy," Hursman said of the memor...

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Darrell Hursman is selling his dream home on the south side of Crookston that he's been building since 1992. Thursday's open house, listed by Greenberg Realty, drew 437 visitors- an open house record for realtor Don Dietrich. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

CROOKSTON-Darrell Hursman has been building his dream home in Crookston for more than 20 years.

Now it's time to pass the dream onto someone else, the Grand Forks man said Thursday.

"For me, it was really good therapy," Hursman said of the memories and process. "That's what I remember it for-just keeping busy, enjoying carpentry and being creative building things. I guess it ended up being certainly really creative."

Hursman, who has been building onto the three-story house at 1101 Washington Ave. in Crookston for two decades, is selling. The prospect of owning, or simply getting a glimpse of inside, the 30-plus-room structure has attracted hundreds of interested viewers.

But the most came Thursday during an open house, said Don Dietrich, a Realtor for Greenberg Realty, the broker selling the house. Greenberg has held three open houses that have drawn about 200 viewers. Thursday's showing attracted 437.

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Dietrich said he has sold many houses, but nothing like Hursman's. He also said he averages about 25 viewers per showing in Grand Forks, joking he may have set a record for viewers Thursday.

"I've sold unique before, but not quite this unique," Dietrich said.

Hursman is selling the house with an asking price of $154,975, according to the Greenberg website, but interested buyers first must submit written bids before bidding closes Aug. 19. The top five bidders will be invited to bid orally Aug. 30.

The house, which originally was a two-story farmhouse, was built in the late 1800s by James J. Hill, who controlled the Great Northern Railway. The house, which was located west of Crookston, was built to house rail workers before being sold to a local resident.

Hursman bought the house in 1992 and moved it to its current location. The 28-foot-by-32-foot home slowly became a 8,726-square-foot mansion with seven bedrooms and four bathrooms with a 30-foot-by-40-foot garage.

The term "castle" comes from Hursman's daughters, he said.

"They said, 'Dad, will you build us a castle?' " he said. "So they were kind of the ones that got things going. I thought, well, I'll build the best castle that I can."

Since then, he has been adding rooms, installing windows and raising ceilings. Over the years, the house continued to grow, with many passersby wondering when it would be finished.

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Don and Paula Adamson of Thief River Falls said they have driven past the house many times, watching the home's progress over the last two decades. They were two of many who came to the open house just to see what it looked like inside.

If there was ever an opportunity to see the house, the couple would take it, Don Adamson said.

"We had to jump at the chance," Paula Adamson said.

Hursman's intent was to build the house as his retirement project, but an all-terrain vehicle accident four years ago that injured his left shoulder and broke his ribs ended that dream.

"I just had to let it be somebody else's dream," he said, adding he hauled most of the materials up the stairs by hand before the accident.

The house has access to city water, sewer, gas and electricity, but it still needs work. The unfinished home is unfurnished with most of the wood structure still showing.

And there is certainly room for more additions, if the future owners choose.

Dietrich said there were seven potential buyers who were really interested in the property, which includes 10 acres of land. It's hard to tell what kind of bids it will attract, he added.

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It's uncertain what the future owners will do with the house-some have speculated it could be turned into a family home, vacation getaway or a bed and breakfast.

While the Adamsons said they likely wouldn't put a bid in, they were interested to see what the next owners will do with it.

"If it turns into a bed and breakfast," Don Adamson said before his wife finished his sentence.

"We'll have to come and stay," she said.

Hursman plans to spend more time with his daughters, who are grown and have children of their own. He is excited to see how the next owners will finish his house.

When asked what his hopes were for the future owners of the house, he said it didn't matter as long as they made it their dream.

"When they buy it, it'll be their dream, and they can do with it what they wish," he said. "I just say best wishes to the successful bidder. It's their dream."

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