Creating a home on the second floor of an old manufacturing building wouldn’t be imaginable for most people. However, Angie and Robby Pedersen of Jefferson could envision their home the first time they climbed up a ladder and opened the hatch to a mass of insulation, wiring and dust.
That was three years ago. Today, after making many major changes, they have their living area very habitable, although not complete.
“A lot of people couldn’t envision anything that could be done with this area,” Robby says. “Even my dad didn’t think it could be done.”
As it turned out, not only did he prove his father wrong, his father rewired the building for the couple. Below their quarters are two of their businesses —RVP 1875 and the History Boy
RVP is the business started by Robby after he left Living History Farms as the furniture maker. Now he makes furniture in the exact same way and with the same tools used 1875. The couple’s live theatre business is in another area of the building. Although they take their theatre company on the road, they also give live performances at their location in Jefferson, along with dinner theatres.
Their businesses together were named the No. 1 rural tourism attraction in the state in October by the Iowa Tourism Office and Travel Federation of Iowa.
Back upstairs in their living area, work and everyday life tend to meld. The living area covers about 2,200 square feet and is nearly all open construction. Large wooden beams crisscross the space providing support structure for lighting and other necessities.
The couple’s office is made of barn board, doors and windows with curtains on the outside. Furniture made by Robby, as well as contemporary and vintage pieces are arranged in various areas to create the feeling of different rooms.
A long table made by Robby dominates the living room area. Metal cemetery fencing separates the living room and kitchen areas from a space that drops down a step. The sunken area has a large rug that covers the floor and theatre lights overhead. A “crow’s nest” loft area is at one end overlooking the room. On one side, a row of theatre chairs rest along the cemetery fencing. When needed, the row of chairs is swung out for additional seating.
On the other side of the sunken theatre practice area is a raised walkway lined with sliding barn doors. Behind the doors lie two bedrooms and a theatre costume room.
One of Angie’s sisters just shook her head in disbelief when she first saw the area before it was completed. Now, the Pedersen pad hosts many of the family gatherings for upward of 40 to 50 guests.