About Ghost Cabin at Chophouse Row (aka “Grandma’s House”)


In 2013, when contractors were digging out the basement of the Chophouse building in preparation to pour new concrete footings, they made a startling discovery. Buried several feet below the basement slab was a crude foundation outlining a small house. In fact, they should not have been surprised, as this discovery confirmed what had been suspected for many years—that an original layer of pioneer settlement had existed on this block, at least 20 feet below today’s grade, before the streets were raised and leveled to accommodate a streetcar on East Pike Street. Sanborn maps of the site from 1903 show a dwelling near 11th Avenue and a small outbuilding directly below today’s courtyard. 

The Chophouse construction project (2013 – 2015) was an ambitious and frankly difficult one. Construction workers complained, only half-jokingly, that because they had accidentally disturbed what they nicknamed “Grandma’s House”, her ghost had to come back to impede their progress.

In 2018, Liz Dunn [owner] and Greg Lundgren [artist and curator], teamed up to commission a large-scale artwork that would provide a focal point to the courtyard and somehow reflect the environmental history of the site.  SHED Architecture & Design was selected and several concepts were explored until the story of Grandma‘s ghost and her mysterious cabin emerged and drove the idea to fruition.

Ghost Cabin was installed in 2018 by contractors Plumb Level Square and inaugurated on August 4th, 2018.  Perhaps the wish of Grandma’s ghost was simply that the outline of her story could emerge and become slightly more visible to us through the palimpsest of time represented by this block.