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Carlton's Historic Scott House sees next evolution

James Sheetz plans to halt onsite Airbnb rentals but continue hosting events

A man smiling and standing in the backyard
Jim Sheetz smiles while standing in the backyard of the Historic Scott House near Carlton on May 5. Sheetz is the owner of Scott House, which was his childhood home.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
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CARLTON — It’s been four years since James Sheetz listed his family home on Airbnb . And, save for that time he accidentally came across the photo of a guest wearing his tuxedo display, he’s had pretty good luck.

“It was an inn in the beginning, so it’s come full circle,” said Sheetz.

A sign at the end of a driveway with a house in the background
A sign that reads "Historic Scott House" is located at the driveway entrance of the property at 1321 County Road 4 near Carlton. Scott House can be seen in the background, to the left of the sign.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

The Historic Scott House, located on Lac La Belle, was built in 1859 as a stage coach stop and inn on an old military road that ran between Superior and St. Paul.

It’s been in the Sheetz family for 80 years, and along with room rentals, Sheetz hosts a slew of private gatherings, weddings and musical performances.

Lori Bergstedt sits across from her daughter Katy Bergstedt. Their table is covered with plates, glasses, coffee cups, a bottle of wine and flowers in a vase. The walls are a deep green, and there's an old-timey photo of Romeo and Juliet on the wall.
Lori Bergstedt chats with daughter Katy Bergstedt as the pair finish a Mother's Day meal at the Historic Scott House in Carlton, Minnesota, on Sunday, May 8. "If I’m not working here, singing here, then I’m just here," said Lori Bergstedt.
Melinda Lavine / Duluth News Tribune

During a Mother’s Day event Sunday, the first floor was filled with guests wrapping up their meals with cake and coffee.

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“If I’m not working here, singing here, then I’m just here," said Lori Bergstedt of Cloquet.

She has performed at the Scott House for the past 10 years, as well as hosting her 60th birthday, and bridal and baby showers. “It’s just a gem,” she added.

Katy Bergsted has joined her mother at the Scott House for years to enjoy musical tributes to the ’50s, ’60s and Broadway. “Whatever Jim dreams up, we’re in,” said Bergstedt, adding that this has become a community gathering spot.

James Sheetz visits with guests during a Mother's Day private event at the Historic Scott House on Sunday, May 8, 2022, in Carlton, Minnesota.
James Sheetz visits with guests during a Mother's Day private event at the Historic Scott House.
Melinda Lavine / Duluth News Tribune

Sheetz, whose full-time gig is as a music director at two Cloquet churches, also hosts small vocal ensembles, instrumentalists and professionals.

Sheetz is a highly valued and always-supportive member of our musical community, said Sarah Lawrence, general artistic director at Lyric Opera of the North. He has terrific ideas and a great instinct for making people feel welcome, she continued.

Sarah Lawrence smiles for a photo
Sarah Lawrence
Contributed / Sarah Lawrence

LOON and Sheetz have collaborated on several events, and Lawrence herself has performed in the main house, the carriage house and outdoors on the grounds.

“The beauty of the venue makes it feel like a real escape,” she said.

In the late 1800s, the homestead served as a market farm. In 1869, The building that would eventually become the Scott House was constructed.

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Walter and Minnie Scott owned the land from 1910-1937. Sheetz’s grandparents bought the farm in 1942. His parents took ownership in 1949, and Sheetz grew up on the grounds, the youngest of four.

man with his hands on a chair
While standing in the dining room of the Historic Scott House, Jim Sheetz rests his hands on a chair and talks about some of his memories from growing up in the house.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

Sheetz has been a Titanic enthusiast since he was 9. He recalled sinking a red plastic boat and pretending his inner tube was a lifeboat in the lake.

Sheetz’s brother designed and built a tree house in the backyard. His grandmother kept a raspberry patch, which Sheetz and his siblings “invaded,” and his mother made pies from blueberries grown onsite.

A clawfoot tub is featured in the second-floor bathroom of the Historic Scott House.
A clawfoot tub is featured in the second-floor bathroom.
Melinda Lavine / Duluth News Tribune

Sheetz met the Scott House descendants, who shared letters and pictures offering visual and written descriptions of the space.

From that, he began renovations in 2000, where removed the first-floor ceilings and walls. He added new windows, upgraded the electrical system, heating, plumbing, and replaced the original woodwork that had been removed.

He added French doors and relocated the stairs, with the goal to return it to its original state as much as possible.

man pointing at the floor
Jim Sheetz points out the original flooring of the home, which is located inside a closet in the dining room of the Historic Scott House near Carlton.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

During reconstruction, Sheetz found 100-year-old coins, a closet, the remains of a long-lost cat and hundreds of cherry pits — a callback to that time a lug of cherries disappeared overnight.

“My dad always said it was a pack rat, but probably a squirrel or chipmunk had gotten in the house,” Sheetz recalled.

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A table and chairs inside a screen house with a yard and lake in the background
Inside of the screen house behind the Historic Scott House. The screen house has a view of Lac La Belle.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

In the backyard are a set of canoes, a screened-in porch and the carriage house which seats 50.

“They had big barns in that area. The horses were brought back to the lake to water, and this was their little trail,” Sheetz said.

Toward the water a sign reads “Dale’s Trail” with a picture of a loon. It’s a tribute to Sheetz’s childhood friend who died at age 27. “His mom was honored by this.”

Sheetz recently sold his house across the lake, so he could return to the home of his childhood.

bedroom Historic Scott House.jpg
The Historic Scott House features two bedrooms and a full kitchen.
Melinda Lavine / Duluth News Tribune

Room rentals will cease in August, but in the past four years, he has seen visitors from Arkansas, Maine, Ireland and Norway.

Despite his current San Francisco address, Cloquet-raised Tom DeCaigny’s first visit was during a 2018 wedding, and he’s been a repeat guest ever since.

Tom DeCaigny poses for a photo outside the Historic Scott House in Carlton. There are green grounds behind him and a nearly empty glass of wine on the table next to him.
Tom DeCaigny
Contributed / Tom DeCaigny

“My partner and I travel regularly for both work and pleasure and have visited a number of vacation homes and hotels around the world. … The Scott House is one of our favorite destinations,” said DeCaigny.

“It rivals homes we have stayed at in Venice, Italy, and other parts of the world because of its unique character and charm as well as the warm, personalized hospitality of its owner.”

Man gestures with his right hand
While standing in the parlor, owner Jim Sheetz gestures with his right hand while describing the items that decorate the room.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
The Historic Scott House near Carlton
The Historic Scott House near Carlton as seen from the driveway.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
A light fixture hanging from the ceiling
A light fixture inside of the entryway includes part of the former steel ceiling from the house before renovations.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
a hinge on a door
An original hinge on a door inside of the Historic Scott House. The house dates back to the 1860s.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
A grandfather clock
A grandfather clock in the dining room as seen on May 5.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
A piano and artwork
A piano in a corner of the sitting room, near the dining room, of the Historic Scott House.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
A man sitting and a book on a table
Jim Sheetz talks about the Historic Scott House while sitting in the entryway of the home. On a mirrored table in front of him is a copy of the book titled "Scott House Souvenirs," which he co-wrote with Marlene Wisuri.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
fly swatters hanging on a wall
A collection of fly swatters decorate a wall above the staircase leading down to the basement.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune
MORE BY MELINDA LAVINE
Members Only
Society of Creative Anachronism members recreate the pageantry, chivalry and heraldry of pre-17th century life.

Melinda Lavine (she/her) is an award-winning features reporter at the Duluth News Tribune, where she has worked since 2014.

She has been a features-focused, multidisciplinary journalist for 10 years, and today, she writes about the heartbeat of our community: the people.

Melinda grew up in central North Dakota, a first-generation American and the daughter of a military dad.

She earned bachelors degrees in English and Communications from the University of North Dakota in 2006, and started her career at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald that summer. She helped launch the Herald's features section, as the editor, before moving to Duluth in June 2014 to do the same at the DNT.

Contact her: 218-723-5346, mlavine@duluthnews.com.
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