Stone World

Upholding North Dakota heritage with limestone

March 1, 2005


Feeling nostalgic for the clapboard siding and stone architecture of their hometown in the countryside of North Dakota, a couple recently built their new residence in Grand Forks, ND, with intentions to reflect this style. Kasota limestone was an essential component to the exterior design.

“My wife and I both grew up in a small town in rural North Dakota,” said homeowner and project architect Lonnie Laffen of JLG Architects in Grand Forks. “Our heritage of building is that farmstead with white siding set on stone bases. They used fieldstone or whatever else they could find.”

Laffen admitted that initially he thought natural stone would be too costly. “The whole stone story is a pretty good one,” he said. “We wanted a heavy base put on the house. Originally, we thought that we could not afford real stone. We looked at precast stone, and that came in fairly high. We looked at brick, and that came in much more than we could afford. I then called the people at Vetter Stone Co. in Mankato, [MN], and they sent a price that was significantly less. We were thrilled that we could use real stone.”

The golden hues of the limestone were a perfect match for the look that was desired, according to the architect. “We had used Kasota stone on a lot of projects, so I was pretty familiar with it,” he said, explaining why he had thought to contact Vetter Stone Co. “That's how it came to be. I had experience with it.”

Sitting on a half-acre, heavily wooded site, the 3,500-square-foot home is three stories, with the lower portion comprised of limestone. The pieces shipped from the quarry measured 8 inches tall, 4 inches deep and were 4 feet in length. “When [the installers] first started, they were laying the full 4-foot [pieces],” said Laffen. “I told them that we wanted the pieces broken into shorter lengths for variety. They were broken into [lengths of] 2 feet and 1 foot.”

It took about one month to complete the stonework portion of the project, according to the architect. A non-colored mortar was used to install the stone pieces. “It was a natural color,” said Laffen.

Because the property is subject to floods, the home sits alongside a natural earthen dike, and does not have a basement. Inside, the first floor includes the master bedroom as well as the kitchen and living room. The second floor was specially designed for the homeowners' three sons, complete with bedrooms for each, a bathroom and plenty of space to play. On the third floor is the den where the family can relax.

End box

Private Residence
Grand Forks, ND

Architect: JLG Architects, Grand Forks, ND
Stone Supplier: Vetter Stone Co., Mankato, MN
Stone Installer: Aaker Masonry Inc., Grand Forks, ND