Rebecca Rutter, pastor at New Hope United Methodist Church in nearby Ledgeview, is responsible for the eye-catching creation that stands in the heart of campus beside the well-used pathway between Third Street and Main Hall.
The tiny house she designed, built, decorated and occasionally occupies for some peace and quiet has been on display since late August. It’s part of a fall exhibit at the art center called “Shelter and Clothing: Using Sustainable Design to Rethink How We Live Today.”
Students such as Olsen who work in the art center have been giving tours of the house on most days of the week.
Rutter will take a break from her ministry work Saturday to greet visitors and give them the snappy tour of the home during SNC Day, the college’s annual open house for the community. Activities throughout campus start as early as 7 a.m. and go into the early evening.
The house is on display until the St. Norbert exhibit ends Sept. 23. Notebook designs by Rutter and a picture book that chronicles the construction of the house are featured in Baer Gallery inside the art center.
“It was a labor of love,” Rutter said.
She built the 98-square-foot house in less than a year after starting the project on her 40th birthday in August 2013. At the time, Rutter was living in the Chicago suburb of Plainfield, Ill., where she served as a church pastor while finishing seminary school.
“I’ve always loved designing buildings,” said Rutter, who took an interest in architecture as a child. “As a pastor who, I assumed, would be living in parsonages the rest of my life and never have a chance to build my own house, I thought, ‘I can build my own house and take it with me wherever I might be appointed.’”
Purchases of a 5,000-pound trailer for $600 and a table saw for $60 on Craigslist set the wheels in motion for building the mobile house.
With the help of family, neighbors and members of her church in Plainfield, an industrious Rutter framed the floor of the house on the trailer.
From there, she stuck to a budget-conscious plan to construct the one-story abode that has just about everything a simple homeowner would need. She stocked up on materials from the clearance aisles at hardware stores, found other discounted items online and recycled materials such as the steel exterior from her parents’ hobby farm near Madison.