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Harold and Sheila Schafer

Harold and Sheila Schafer moved into the Schafer Cabin in the mid-1970s.

A historic home in the town of Medora has been restored to former glory. 

The Schafer Cabin, which was once home to Harold and Sheila Schafer, was built in 1967 as a small, one-bedroom cabin for the curator of Medora's museum. It then served as an art gallery for the town and finally was expanded to a two-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom home for the Schafers.

Ed Schafer, son of Harold Schafer and chairman of the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation, said he has "intimate memories" of the cabin, going back to 1966 when he sat in the hot sun, hand-stripping the bark off the logs to build the house.

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Schafer Cabin

The Schafer Cabin in Medora was restored this spring and summer after a pipe burst and flooded the cabin last winter. The cabin is located on the main street in Medora.

While he was running his father's Gold Seal Co. on the East Coast, he would stop and visit his family at the cabin, which sits on the main street in Medora. When he was governor of North Dakota, the cabin became a refuge for him and his wife, who would use the cabin as a getaway spot during Medora's off-season.

After Sheila Schafer died in 2016, the foundation had to decide what would be the best use of the cabin, stalling on plans until a pipe burst and flooded the cabin this past winter, according to Ed Schafer. The foundation decided to restore the cabin to "liveable condition," while also doing some updating, he said.

Ed Schafer said a "friend of Medora" volunteered to restore the house, and two companies, Renewal by Andersen and Western Products, donated windows that needed replacing. Because the foundation lacked money in their budget to do the restoration work, Ed Schafer said he was pleased when other people decided to chip in.

Randy Hatzenbuhler, president of the foundation, said flooring in the home was replaced this spring, and kitchen cabinets that were damaged during the flooding were replaced and the walls were painted.

"It's a really important place, because it's where the people who restored the town lived," said Hatzenbuhler, who currently lives in the cabin with his wife.

Hatzenbuhler said they've kept all the wall hangings and furniture in the home, and they treat it as if they were "living in a museum."

"If you were someone who had come to visit Harold and Sheila years ago, you would feel like you're walking into the same space," he said.

The restorations started in April and will finish this month, Hatzenbuhler said, adding that he is grateful for the companies and people who donated materials and labor for the project.

Adam May, communications manager for Renewal by Andersen, which is headquartered in Minnesota, said the company recognized the importance of the cabin in Medora and donated 20 double-hung windows for the project.

"When we learned about Medora and the significance of the cabin and what it means to that area and what it means to the entire state of North Dakota, it just seemed like a great opportunity to go ahead and put our products in there," May said.

Ed Schafer said he's glad people wanted to restore the cabin. He recalled Sheila Schafer sitting on the front porch of the cabin, waving at everyone who went by.

"It's a friendly, happy corner in Medora," he said.

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(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or Blair.Emerson@bismarcktribune.com)

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