Michael and Cherri Herrman spent nearly a year fixing up one of the oldest homes in Roseburg. Now they are hoping to share the history behind their home with the community.

In August 2019, the couple bought what is known as the John Rast House, a home built around 1875 by John George Rast in the gothic revival style, on 236 SE Stephens St. in Roseburg.

“We wanted to retire,” Cherri Herrman said. “My husband is an electrical contractor and I worked in corrections, and we wanted to do something different.”

It was the home to four generations of the same family. John Rast didn’t have any sons and the daughter who continued living in the home married a man with the last name Kidder. Three generations of Kidders lived in the home, which is why sometimes the home is referred to as the John Rast/Kidder House.

The house had been empty for 20 years before it was put on the market.

“I guess the house was full of antiques and things that the daughter couldn’t take,” Cherri Herrman said. “She was an only child and she could only take so much. She left everything else, so when people came in they were stealing things and selling things for money, for survival. The neighbors cleaned it out, it was this high (Herrman lifted her hand about 6 inches from the ground) with garbage everywhere.”

The Herrmans started by leveling the home in December 2019, and by January, they started working inside the home.

In all, Cherri Herrman estimates they spent about $350,000 restoring the home.

“The house really started to fall apart and it had been empty for 20 years, homeless people had been in and out,” she said. “But we decided to take it on and it wasn’t an easy task at times. We had so many obstacles.”

There were some unexpected expenses, but also some hidden treasures. Paintings found in the boiler room were restored by an Ashland artist and now displayed in the parlor, the chandelier in the parlor is also original, stone from the brewery that used to be on the property was found buried on the property and fashioned into a bench and stepping stones for the garden.

A room in the home has been turned into a museum about the family, which displays some of the treasures found during the restoration and photos from the family.

“We found an 1893 50-cent piece in the wall,” Herrman said. “We found letters, an Abraham Lincoln stamp in mint condition because it had not seen daylight in many, many years.”

Herrman said the room that houses the museum was largely untouched during the remodel so that people could see the original colors and materials in the home.

The home is located in the Roseburg Downtown Historic District, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and can be found in the Oregon Historic Sites Database and is a Heritage Landmark in Roseburg.

Because of its historical significance, the Herrmans not only decided to restore the outside, but they also restored much of the inside rather than remodel an update. The house has many built-in cabinets, steep stairs to get to the second floor and original tiles in the bathroom and kitchen.

“We believe in preservation,” Cherri Herrman said. “We fell in love with the history of them home and the family. It’s been in the same family for generations and we’re in touch with family members and they’re providing us with a lot of information about the family history.”

When John Rast built the home it was surrounded by acres of farmland that stretched all the way to where the Douglas County Courthouse stands today.

Rast worked in farming, learned the trade of a brewer and eventually purchased a flour mill.

Rast was born in Switzerland in May 1838 and immigrated to St. Louis in the 1840s with his family. He was educated in the public schools of St. Louis and came to Oregon in 1853 with his mother, after his father’s death.

Herrman pointed out that some of the European influences can be seen in the way he built the home, such as a soapstone fireplace in the parlor.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, only one room will be rented out at a time. However, the hope is to start renting out all three of the bedrooms once the pandemic subsides.

For more information or to schedule a visit, go to johnrasthouse.com, or contact Cherri Herrman at 541-218-1220 or cherriherrman@msn.com.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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