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Demo makes way for new beginning at James House in Willmar

Erica Dischino / Tribune Remains of the fire-damaged James House lay scattered at the site after demolition Tuesday morning in southwest Willmar. The board of the men’s halfway house for recovering addicts plans to rebuild.1 / 7
Erica Dischino / Tribune The James House, a men’s halfway living for recovering addicts, is demolished Tuesday morning in Willmar. The house was struck by lightning last year and a new facility is planned to be built on the same site on the corner of 15th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest.2 / 7
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune A construction vehicle begins demolishing the front of the James House on Tuesday morning in Willmar. The old two-story home in southwest Willmar had served as a men’s halfway house since 2001 until it was struck by lightning in August.3 / 7
Erica Dischino / Tribune The James House is demolished Tuesday morning in southwest Willmar. The house for men recovering from addiction was struck by lightning last year, and a new facility is planned to be built on the same site on the corner of 15th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest.4 / 7
Erica Dischino / Tribune The James House, a halfway house in Willmar, is demolished Tuesday morning to make way for a new facility. The house for men recovering from addiction was struck by lightning last year, and it was decided that repairs were too costly and building new made more sense.5 / 7
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune A Raymond contractor made quick work of the demolition Tuesday of the fire-damaged James House in southwest Willmar. The board of the nonprofit organization that ran the men’s halfway house plans to rebuild on the same site on the corner of 15th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest. 6 / 7
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune A cross stands in the front of the James House while it is demolished Tuesday morning in southwest Willmar. The house was struck by lightning last year, and a new facility is planned to be built on the same site on the corner of 15th Street and Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest. 7 / 7

WILLMAR — After a lightning strike last summer damaged it, a Willmar halfway house that helped men recover from drug and alcohol addictions was demolished Tuesday.

Now plans are being made to build a brand new facility at the same location for the 12-step, Christian-based program known as The James House.

"A lot of great things happened in that house and it's coming down," said Nate Juhl, director of The James House.

Zach Brouwer, a contractor from Raymond, made quick work of the demolition, which drew a group of onlookers Tuesday morning at 1423 Kandiyohi Ave. S.W.

Knowing that men's lives were changed in the old two-story home creates a sadness in its demise, but Juhl said there is also joy in knowing there are plans for a new beginning.

In August, a quick-moving storm delivered a bolt of lightning to the roof of the house and started a fire in the attic that resulted in smoke and water damage throughout the entire building.

No one was injured in that fire, but the building was deemed uninhabitable and clients were relocated to other Willmar facilities while the board decided what to do with the building.

Initially, the plan was to repair the house.

But because of the age of the building and damage that would be costly to repair, Juhl said numerous contractors told them that it made more sense to start from scratch.

The board of directors for the nonprofit organization was expected to select an architect this week to design a new building, which Juhl said could be a duplex-style residential facility.

Money from the insurance claim will help offset construction costs, but he said additional money will have to be raised.

The goal is to have construction completed sometime this summer.

Once that happens, clients will be enrolled and full programming restored.

Juhl said community support for The James House has been overwhelming and he's glad they can rebuild the program in the same neighborhood that has welcomed them since The James House started in 2001.

"We can't say thank you to the town of Willmar enough," Juhl said. "The outreach of support is very overwhelming."

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750
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