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Embraced by the Earth
By Kathleen Ostrander

When other kids were making treehouses, Ed Fraase was digging into the sides of hills making forts. On a parcel of land off Bradfordton Road, Fraase has constructed an earth home with a log-front facade.

"People said I was nuts because they said it would be too dark and you wouldn't be able to breathe," Fraase said. "I did a lot of research on earth homes, and we've got skylights and great circulation.

"We use a wood burner to heat the house, and we have a furnace as a back-up - I think we ran it twice last year. We didn't turn on the air conditioner until July. It's very efficient."

Fraase's 2,400-square-foot home is built into the side of a hill. There is an envelope of air between the walls and the earth to help prevent mold. The envelope of air also keeps the temperature moderate.

Fraase said there are no problems with TV reception or radio interference living virtually underground. "It's really quiet, I will say that," he said. "We've slept through a couple of tornadoes."

The house's construction also allows for repairs in case of earthquake damage.

Built by Fraase, his brothers and wife, Donna, the house can go up a story if needed, and there are plans for a full porch as well as a two-story garage with a tunnel leading to the house.

Fraase is an artist, so visitors are greeted by a huge dragon/dinosaur creature called "Raise the Roof Rufus." There are large exotic insects, skeletal cowboys and flashy flowers. Visitors may also be greeted by Fraase's rooster, Colonel.

The art and the wood tie everything together in the house. "The logs are from Wisconsin, and they are yellow pine," Fraase said. "The walls inside the house are done in yellow pine, while the cabinets in the kitchen are oak."

"The whole house is a canvas," Fraase said. He has painted murals on the walls. An owl looks down the hallway, and there are pieces that Fraase has conceived around the open living room and kitchen area.

Fraase's daughter's bathroom is done in a dolphin theme, but the closet door, done up like the door of an outhouse, steals the show in that room.

The master suite has a large walk-in closet, and the wood-trim theme is carried through to the master bath. From the decorative set of metal tins on the kitchen cabinets to the intricate metal birdhouse in the living room, there is something interesting everywhere in the house.

The seasons and the art change around the house, but the embrace of the Earth means Fraase's home will always be protected. 


Story published Friday, January 9, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 1 )

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