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Next lesson: Arlen and Sharon Sloan's beautiful in-ground home

LeRoy Independent of LeRoy, Minnesota

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House is a delightful hideaway nestled in a grove of trees

Delighted with the conversations brought on by the article about sod houses, the next step could only go towards the in-ground home where Arlen and Sharon Sloan live in their retirement years. Do not give me credit for finding this delightful hideaway. Arlen had to come to Saratoga and lead me to my destination of an article about this wonderful and comfortable house built into what looks like a hill, but isn't, even though the roof is of grass-growing dirt.

This house, 100 feet long by 25 feet wide, was built some 30 years ago, Arlen says, by Karol Watson, who raised his family there, on the 20 acres where the house is built Watson also farmed other land in the area at the time and before his death. When he died, Watson's wife stayed on the place for another year but has since moved into Riceville where she now lives. The family decided to sell the home which was bought by John and Becky Frazer, Becky being Arlen and Sharon's daughter.

At first, Arlen says, the Frazers contemplated tearing the place down for a building site, but took a second look at it and realized it was a masterpiece of workmanship and design, the walls alone being 12-inches of cement, the windows facing front with the back of the house entirely covered with a mound of dirt up to and over the roof. Built on a level piece of ground, that mound of dirt which acts like a hill, was added by Watson and keeps inside the warmth of the wood-burning fireplace to heat the place. (Arden had me note the pile of wood he has accumulated to keep the home-fires burning, cutting the dry wood from the acreage around the house.)

But, that's not all. Before John and Becky moved into the house, Becky did a massive remodeling job, Arlen said, changing even the windows to a modem version rather than the huge expanses of glass which had been built into the front of the house. The only thing not changed when Becky put her ideas to work, were the custom-made kitchen cabinets which are original. But the Frazers also added a back-up heating system too, which is rarely used, because the floors are heated from a system tied into the fireplace. It's an amazing home and the Sloans are most happy to be calling it their retirement home since John and Becky have since built a huge complex, over and yon from this delightful set up. The Sloans have since sold their old house on the south edge of LeRoy to Sara and Josh Helgson and family, who moved from Grand Meadow.

The changes made to this house with Becky's ideas were made by Ken Bauer, who did the construction, along with his son, Jeff Bauer, who installed the extra heating and plumbing systems. It was a work of art, and the house is open wide to welcome visitors to the living room, dining room and kitchen, the minute they step inside the front door On the left hand side of the long home is located the main bedroom along with the master bath, with a room for

Sharon's many interests including her mother's collection of seashells which is now on display a the Riceville Library, and another room for Aden's musical interests.

The couple are deeply involved, not only in mission work in Bogata, Columbia, but Arlen plays guitar and sings with the several Cowboy Church Services which began at the Cherry Grove Church. These services have since expanded to include occasional Cowboy Church Services on Sunday evenings at Dodge Center, Osage and Pleasant Grove.

Arlen hails from the Mclntire/Bailey area and the couple lived in Animosa, Iowa for 16 years before moving to LeRoy. Their family includes John and Becky Fraser, who live next door, north of Saratoga, Steven and Patty Sloan of Brainard and Clayton and Dawn Sloan, who live north east of LeRoy. They have six grand children and four great-grands at last count.

And they are more than happy to be living in a house which has an interesting background, especially the back of the home!

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Original Publication Date: October 22, 2015

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