Volunteer's green thumb, along with Thrivent funds, leave lovely Legacy for Williston residents

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

They say first impressions are everything.

Now through the generosity, talents and hard work of an old friend, a member-owned fraternal benefit society and a local business, our Legacy property in Williston, N.D., will make a better first impression than ever.

It began when Bryan Quigley, special projects coordinator with Lutheran Social Services Housing, reconnected with Ramona Johnson, an old friend from his high school days. Through Ramona's Facebook page, he saw images of her incredible yard, which is "manicured to perfection." Bryan mentioned to Ramona that he could use some help making the entrances at Legacy Senior Living in Williston look as green, lush and beautiful as her yard does.

First built in the 1930s, the Legacy is a historically important building for that community in that it served as the city's high school and junior high for decades. In 2014, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota Housing preserved the unique Art Deco qualities of this landmark building, which is located on the National Register of Historic Places. Elements such as the sweeping terrazzo stairwells and multi-story decorative front windows were fully restored, with spaces that were formerly classrooms and offices converted into graceful, loft-like one- and two-bedroom apartments. Legacy now provides housing to adults 55 and older.

However, Bryan believed the building's west and southeast entrances were definitely due for upgrades, and Ramona seemed like the ideal green-thumb to make that happen.

We're so grateful that she agreed to take a look at the site and to make a plan. She put in a solid work week (40+ hours) transforming the weedy, tired-looking entryway spaces into attractive, well-tended garden spots. Her efforts were made possible through a Thrivent Action Team grant for $250, a donation of decorative rock from McCody Concrete and riverbed rock, hauled from Watford City by Bryan.

The Thrivent funds went a long way, purchasing plants, weed and grass killer, heavy-duty landscape fabric and garden staples, 13 bags of potting soils, seven bags of compost and 50 bags of mulch. Ramona prepared four 25-foot-long flowerbeds, which flanked the sidewalk on the Legacy's two east entrances, for placement of perennials; weeded, aerated and placed fresh mulch on flowerbeds on both sides of the Legacy Senior Living's west entrance, and manually aerated, added compost and potting soil, then mulched existing flowers and plants at the southeast entrance.

In the process, Ramona showed her engineering skills when she diagnosed a drainage problem that cropped up during downpours. After she "painstakingly and tediously" cleaned mud out of the plugged drain, Bryan's brother Fred, of Quigley Plumbing and More, helped out by drilling holes into the drain to allow for better evacuation of rainwater in the future.

The vast area around the northeast entrance was weeded and the random grass and weed clumps were sprayed with grass/weed killer. This was followed by laying down more landscape fabric over entire beds, then topping that layer with new soil and multiple bags of brown mulch.

Later this fall, Ramona plans to donate more hardy perennials, such as daylilies and hostas, along with seeds from flowering annuals. Bryan also plans to haul in more decorative rock to enhance proper drainage and curb appeal in the near future.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Just to prove it, here are some before-and-after shots to illustrate the improvements that Ramona, Thrivent and McCody brought to this beautiful and much-deserving historic building.

By Tammy Swift and Bryan Quigley

Interested in renting at the Legacy or another LSS Housing property? Go to www.lsshousing.org.

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