Closing the Drawers: Photo collection focuses on a family’s 80 years in Fremont

Historic Fremont HomeThe Fremont Branch is hosting a display of photos tracing the history of a Scandinavian family and the Fremont home they shared for more than 80 years. The photos will be on display from June 17 through 30, with an Opening Reception in the Library this Thursday, June 19, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Michael Kleven presents a collection of historical and contemporary photos relating to the community of Fremont and to his family’s eight decades in the neighborhood. When his great grandfather, Peter Lantz, acquired the house at 4231 5th NW in the late 1920s, he added “built ins” in the Swedish style — a bench with a dog house beneath it, an ironing board, a mail drop box and a wall of drawers in the kitchen. Marks of Peter Lantz’s style remain today in arched doorways and in several pairs of small diamond-shaped windows. Hands across six generations have opened the drawers that Peter built, now we close them for the last time.

Michael’s mother, Sandy Kleven, writes:

The house has been a constant my entire life. When I was born in 1945, it was already an old family home. My Dad, Milton Lantz, who passed away last December at age 80, moved there as a baby. My grandmother, Olga, told me that she eventually had four cribs in a room across the back of the house, creating something of a sleeping porch. My father inherited the house, and has done major remodeling, creating a second floor.

My grandmother was Swedish and when she spoke her j’s were all y’s. She made use of everything: dug coffee grounds into her garden, saved bottle tops and buttons for children’s games, saved old socks to make quilts. The most unusual thing she did was what she referred to as ‘digging out the basement.’ Over the years, she dug out an entire floor under the house, one box of dirt at a time.

My son, Michael Kleven, has carefully preserved the photos found in the house. They are wonderfully alive. My favorite shows the parking strip planted in corn back in the mid 1930s.”

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