616 Center St





George and Shirley (Lembke) Knudson


616 Center St Decorah, IA 52101

Year Built


Architectural Style

Minimal Traditional

The Knudson house seems to be a unique Altfillisch design, in that Knudson himself built the house. George built the basement in 1948 and covered it with tar paper, and the family lived there for a year until the upper story was completed in 1949. The two older Knudson children’s footprints and the year 1948 were pressed into the concrete hearth of the basement fireplace. The house also had an upstairs living room fireplace, for which wood could be passed through an opening from the garage directly into the living room storage box.

The Knudson’s younger son Karl remembers vividly the breakfast nook, which had shelves for a few breakfast supplies, a fold-down table, and a padded bench (with under-seat storage) where three children could squeeze in for a quick meal. The dining room had a pass-through window that allowed for the quick transfer of dirty dishes into the kitchen.

Karl outlined two major changes from the original house: the southeast corner–which was originally “notched”–was in the 1970s filled in, cutting off the kitchen’s view of the outdoors. In the 1980s, there was an addition to the house’s south side, easily visible from the street.

George Kundson was a prominent member of the Luther College chemistry faculty and of the Decorah community. His widely-used guidebooks to Decorah and the Upper Iowa River are still available. George and Shirley were killed in an airplane accident in 1977.

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