Join us and help out at a Victorian House in Deadwood, USA


United States

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 Min stay requested: at least 2 weeks

  • Description


    My wife and I are a fairly young (mid-30s) and easy-going couple. I'm the benevolent overlord at a small advertising agency in Deadwood, and my wife is a trained archaeologist. We spend a lot of time working on our house, but we also like to read, write, cook, hike, run, and entertain our three black cats. We really enjoy traveling, especially to Europe: I studied abroad in the UK, Laura got her master's degree in Belgium, I proposed in France, and we got married in Greece. Whew! We bought our giant house about eight years ago, and for a while, we were stuck working on the house and didn't get abroad much. (Fortunately, we have spent a lot of time exploring our back yard, and in particular Yellowstone National Park, which is only a seven-hour drive from us.) But last year we were really excited to be able to start traveling again. We've done France, Iceland, Turkey, Israel, and Mexico, and we've got a lot of new places on our list!

    We love living in the trees and mountains, and having a giant Victorian house in an old mining town is really cool. But we love to travel all over to experience new foods, to learn more about the world, for the food, to get access to things that come with an urban lifestyle, for the food, to see cultural performances and museums, and, also, for the food.

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    General Maintenance
    Cooking / shopping
    Help in the house
    Language practice

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    We're in a pretty rural outdoorsy setting, in the middle of a forest in a small mountain chain, which makes us a fun way to see some of the wild lands of America away from the cities. It's sparsely populated, but we're still close to stores, restaurants, shops and interesting things to see, including several national parks and monuments. It's a region and subculture in the United States that most visitors don't ever get to see!

  • Help


    We bought a big ‘ol Queen Anne house in Deadwood, South Dakota about eight years ago. The town is a lot of fun, and so is the house, but it needs work. It was vacant for three years before we got ahold of it, and it was in rough shape. So far, we’ve replaced the roof, shored up the foundation, replaced the plumbing, renovated the third floor, renovated the kitchen, rebuilt the porches, and landscaped. Whew.

    But there’s still a lot to do. We could use some help restoring and maintaining the house, and with some general cleaning and tidying tasks. That’s where you come in. If you’re willing to help us out with the house, we’ve got a bedroom for you. Here are the kinds of tasks we’d be looking for help with:

    *️️️️️️Housesitting! We need help for sure in the fall of 2019.
    *Painting, inside and out.
    *️️️️️️Oiling & polishing woodwork & dusting.
    *️️️️️️Refinishing woodwork (doors, baseboards and trim) - if that's in your wheelhouse.
    *️️️️️️Landscaping our small garden beds in the spring & summer, shoveling snow in winter.
    *️️️️️️Cleaning! Mostly hardwood floors, windows, the kitchen & bathrooms.
    *️️️️️️Cooking, but only if you’re into that sort of thing. Totally optional.
    *️️️️️️Interior decorating, but also only if you like it.
    *️️️️️️Rearranging furniture, entertaining the cat & other odd jobs. It’s an old house – things will come up.

    Mostly we're hoping for help with house maintenance and everyday household chores (like general tidying up). We’re a pretty young and easygoing couple, and just want a little extra help, so no slave-driving. If you can put in a few hours a day helping us keep up, we’re super grateful. In return, we'll make sure you've got a private bedroom, and we'll buy all the food.

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    English, ASL, some French

  • Accommodation


    During the fall and winter we've got plenty of room for volunteers, though we sometimes block a few weeks off for a break. Things become a little trickier at the height of the summer, but we usually have one bedroom open. In the off-season, we usually put volunteers in our Old Nursery room: a queen bed, pine furniture, bay windows, and plenty of room. You can use the home's original historic bathroom (massive clawfoot tub, exposed brick chimney, heated tile floor, vintage fixtures). But during the summer, we generally put volunteers in a smaller bedroom next door to ours. It's a little more awkward, and you'd be sharing a tiny bathroom with us, but it's still private and has a queen bed.

    The surrounding area is beautiful. Deadwood is an old Wild West gold rush town, made famous as the place where Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back while playing poker (holding the Dead Man’s Hand). Both he and Calamity Jane are buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery, which is a five-minute walk from our house (the cemetery is visible from a few windows). The house is in the Presidential District (all the streets in the neighborhood are named after American presidents), which is one of the oldest quarters in the city. Main Street and the center of town is about five minutes in the other direction. It’s a fairly small town, but because we have lots of tourists, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and museums open year-round. There are also a lot of casinos, if you’re into poker and blackjack.

    Deadwood is at the northern end of the Black Hills, a mountain range about 195 km long and 100 km wide. It’s probably most famous for Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the mountain sculpture of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, which is about 60 minutes from our house. There’s also Badlands National Park, Wind Cave National Park (the fourth-longest cave in the world) and Jewel Cave National Monument (the second-longest cave in the world). As far as wildlife goes, we have bison, elk, coyotes, mountain lions and wild turkey. Summer is great for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, and our house is about two minutes from the start of a beautiful 183 km trail. Winter is a good time for snow shoeing, snowmobiling and skiing, and there are two moderate-level ski areas about 20 minutes from our house.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    Did I mention that we're easy-going? We are. We're looking for all kinds of help, but if you've got some experience with older homes, or with building and carpentry, awesome! If not, some experience with cooking and cleaning is super helpful!

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?


  • ...

    Hours expected

    5 hours per day, 5 days a week

Did we mention we like food? This is us on our last trip to France, where we ate pretty much everything.
Gwapes! We gwow them. We use them to make jelly in the fall.
Minou is our oldest cat. There are three total - all black.
Lots of flowers. It's a little out of control.
The house was built in 1899. The front is super pretty, and full of flowers in the summer.
The first-floor sitting room has a gas fireplace.
We serve breakfast in the formal dining room each morning.
There are five bathrooms in the house. This one is in the third-floor Music Room.
There are a lot of fleur-de-lis hidden around the house. The big one is in one of our four stained glass windows.
Laura loves orchids.
An old Underwood No. 5 sits in the front parlor.
We have lots of little clocks and gadgets around the house.
The kitchen is very 1970s, but it does the job.

Host ref number: 479422613692