Archive for the ‘Folk Victorian’ Category

Wood’s Hilltop Home on Lake Washington

Friday, August 28th, 2015
Wood's Hilltop Beach House

4414 Washington Blvd, Madison Lake

High up on a hill overlooking Lake Washington, not far from Mankato, Minnesota, a beautiful resort hotel called the Belvedere was opened to the public sometime between 1898 and 1900. It was built by Louis A. Linder, a well known businessman from Mankato. The summer hotel quickly became a vacation magnet and popular spot for honeymooners, with wealthy patrons coming from as far away as Chicago. It wasn’t an easy hotel to visit in the early 1900’s. Guests first arrived in the town of Mankato by train, after which they traveled by horse and buggy to Connors’ Farm, just across the lake from the hotel. The last leg of their trip was taken by ferry. One year in a bad storm the ferry sank, but the hotel patrons all survived. The ferry still sits on the bottom of this deep lake today.

Belvedere Hotel Lake Washington
It was on a honeymoon stay at the hotel that led William and Inez Wood to purchase the building in 1921 as their summer home. They had an idea to establish a beach resort at the bottom of the hill along the lake’s shoreline. With the help of their six children, Wood’s Beach became a spectacular beach resort and picnic grounds that attracted weekend visitors from over four counties for more than thirty years. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, the five Wood sons and their father constructed an amazing array of water attractions to please and entertain every member of the family: a very high slide, a lower slide, a water wheel, diving docks, rolling barrels, and rafts. It was a big operation that rented boats and canoes, and even bathing suits. Many people at that time did not own bathing suits, so they paid ten cents to rent a scratchy woolen one, changing in a special beach house on the shores of the lake. The Beach closed down in 1948 and pieces of the original property were slowly sold off. Today, the main house remains with 300 feet of shoreline and stunning views of the lake and sunsets.

The money earned from summer rentals paid for the college education of all six Wood’s children, all of them obtaining higher degrees and having very successful careers.

Wood's Hilltop ChildrenBelow is just a few snippets of their lives:

Delbert L. “Buck” Wood graduated from the St. Paul College of Law. He worked for the FBI for six years during which he headed up investigations of the Capone
Gang and other Mafia organizations. J. Edgar Hoover awarded him three commendations for his outstanding work in the Bureau.

Harland Goff Wood attained international fame in biochemical research. His revolutionary discovery early in his career in 1935 that not only plants, but also animals and humans utilize carbon dioxide for metabolic processes (“CO2 fixation”), resulted in him being nominated twice for the Nobel Prize. Harland also served on the President’s Scientific Advisory Commission under both Presidents Johnson and Nixon.

After graduating from Macalaster College in St. Paul, Louise Wood worked with the National Red Cross in Europe during World War II. Based in London, she directed the USO operations for the American Red Cross for the entire European Theater of Operations. For her efforts and accomplishments in the Red Cross, President Truman awarded her the Medal of Freedom.

Earl H. Wood was internationally celebrated in both cardiology and aerospace medicine. During WWII he was a key figure in the top-secret research at Mayo to develop an anti-gravity “G” suit, and perfected the centrifuge, as well as developed the “M-1” straining/ expiration maneuver to assist pilots in maintaining consciousness when pulling high G’s.

The home is currently For Sale with additional information at the property website.Used seasonally as a summer residence, the home is perfect for year round use or potential B&B, and needs updating. This historic property is looking for a preservation minded buyer who will restore the home and love it as much as the Wood’s family has for the last 94 years.

Ramsey Hill Folk Victorian – 537 Holly Avenue

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
537 Holly Avenue, Saint Paul, MN

537 Holly Avenue

Charles L. Johnston House

When Charles L. Johnston, Vice President of the D.S.B Johnston Land Company, was married in the fall of 1882, it is easy to imagine that this Folk Victorian home was a wedding gift to his new bride, Jennie. The house was completed less than a year later in 1883. The Johnston family remained in the home until 1896 when it was sold to Dr. George E. Routh, a local physician and surgeon.

The original transom windows are still present, as is a lovely tiled fireplace surround in the upstairs bedroom. Hidden behind the hallway closets is the original second staircase, no longer used, which descends to the kitchen. The original sleeping porch has been restored too!

The Burwell House in Minnetonka – 13209 E. McGinty Rd, Minnetonka

Sunday, April 26th, 2009
The Burwell House in Minnetonka

13209 E. McGinty Rd, Minnetonka

Built in 1883, the Burwell House was constructed by Charles Henry Burwell for his growing family, second wife and four children. Mr. Burwell was the Manager of the Minnetonka Mills Company beginning in 1874 until the mills demise in 1886. The land was purchased from the mill at a cost of $1000, and the house was built from a design found in the Palliser’s American Cottage Home catalog, or so the story goes. It is said to have cost a mere $3260 to build.

While the home is said to be in the Italianate style, I really feel it is an “in-between” house. The home does not have any strong Italianate features like window hoods, bracketed eves, or low pitched gables. In my opinion, it is more a cross between an Italian Villa, which features a central tower, and the Victorian Folk style. The home was built at the very end of the Italian popularity, but in the middle of Folk period. It is not always easy to pin down a single style to Victorian homes, but it is easy to see architectural influences in some of them. One part of the home not originally built in 1883, is the wrap around porch. Added on somewhere between 1989-1906, it is a good example of the Eastlake influence, with its elaborate spindels and woodwork.

The cottage (upper left) was moved to the site in 1894 from the Minnetonka Mills site, to house Mr. Burwell’s widowed mother. It is one of the original 15 cottages constructed to housemill workers. The summer kitchen (upper right) was added to the home in 1892.

The mill office (lower left) was Mr. Burwell’s office and was moved to the site in 1894. It now serves as the Minnetonka Historical Society building.The final photograph is of the original ice house (lower right).

The site is open for tours during the summer months.