The house next to the Vaughn post office on Olson Drive in Key Center has attracted attention in recent years as the owner has expanded the building several times.
Elmer Olson of Sunnycrest Farm (now owned by his daughter, Joyce Niemann) built a huckleberry shed near the site in 1929, and later created a car park next door and behind it. The shed where the Olsons bought, cleaned and shipped off huckleberries later became a small restaurant called the Huckleberry Café. A few years ago, it was transformed into the current El Sombrero restaurant.
Meanwhile, a building about 18 by 24 feet was built to provide laundry, showers and bathrooms for the visitors to the car park that morphed into an RV park.
Olson’s daughter and son-in-law, Phyllis and Harry Anker, operated the RV Park. Before it became a café, Harry turned the huckleberry shed into a gun shop and had a gun range behind it.
Forward to 1984 when sons Donald and David Anker returned to the Key Peninsula.
They asked their mom if they could make the old washhouse into a cabin.
“Might as well,” Phyllis told them. “It’s falling apart.”
The brothers created a bedroom and bathroom, kitchen and small living area.
When David met Janet, his current wife, he wanted to add on a second bedroom, but Don said they decided to move elsewhere soon after.
Don began improving and adding as he could over the years. It wasn’t until after retiring in 2009 that he could finally spend more time on creating his dream home.
The living area was expanded and a large kitchen and dining area were added; all well defined but open, airy spaces.
When he wanted to add an adjacent garage, Don learned he couldn’t because there was a window in that wall, though it’s a single pane that doesn’t open.
His solution was to build a covered breezeway big enough for a car connecting to a one-car garage with storage space.
Don will add a patio and eventually a swimming pool. “When I get enough money,” he said.
For now, Don has a historic, beautiful and comfortable home he continues to improve.
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