Archive for the ‘Minnesota Historic Homes’ Category

The William W. Smith House

Thursday, September 24th, 2015
Historic William W. Smith House

101 Linden Street SW, Sleepy Eye

When Major William Watkins Smith came to Sleepy Eye with his wife, Ada, they purchased property on the southwest corner of Linden Street and First Avenue South to build their new home. Finished in 1901 and built by the Steinke-Seidl Lumber Company, this two and half story clapboard-sheathed home combines both Queen Anne Victorian and Classical Revival (also known as NeoClassical) architectural elements, and is a masterpiece in design.

William was one of Sleepy’ Eye’s earliest bankers. Born in 1857 as the youngest of five children, he was raised on his family’s 600 acre farm in Oakfield,Wisconsin and graduated from Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1881. After spending a year working at a bank in South Dakota, he moved to Sleepy Eye in 1882. At that time, the town was only 10 years old when Smith and his partner Clarence D. Griffith opened the Merchants Bank.  Over time, the two men earned a great reputation with local farmers and businessmen, and in 1902 converted their bank to the First National Bank of Sleepy Eye. Smith served as the bank’s cashier for over 50 years, never wanting any other title, and was also involved with the Board of Education and the Republican party.

WilliamW Smith

No corners were cut or expense spared when the house was built, with artisans, that were crafting local churches at the same time, utilized to obtain stain glass and exotic woods.  Two beautiful leaded glass doors open into the expansive foyer with 10 foot high ceilings, gas fireplace, and ornate woodwork. The formal parlor connects to a sitting room with a large bay window and three sets of pocket doors. It is easy to imagine how elegant dinner parties must have been in this home’s dining room being surrounded by a fireplace, built-in China cabinet, and crystal chandelier. As an extra architectural detail, each of the formal rooms feature a different inlaid floor pattern. The original library, with built-in book shelves, fireplace, and Steuben light fixture serves today as an office and reading room.

101 Linden St SW, Sleepy Eye

The grand staircase still retains an original Tiffany newel post fixture as well as three beautiful stained glass windows at the first landing. The second floor features a master suite, three guest rooms, and three full baths. Varying wood species are used throughout the home including quarter-sawn red oak and American chestnut. Additional historic elements include working servant’s call box, transom windows, and many original light fixtures. A servant’s staircase leads to the finished third floor, currently serving as the owner’s suite with living room, office, bedroom, walk-in closet, and bath.

The Carriage House was used to store the Smith carriages and the horses. Horses were boarded in what is now the Box Stall bedroom on the first floor. It is reported that Smith owned the first automobile in Sleepy Eye and shortly after, the Carriage House was converted to a garage. In the late 1990’s the Carriage House was converted to guest rooms, now featuring a bedroom and living room/dining room space on the first floor, and a spacious bedroom suite with 2-person whirlpool tub on the second floor.

Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home is much the same as when it was first built, with a few exceptions, and an amazing restoration. Currently operating as the W.W. Smith Inn the home is For Sale with additional information at the property website.

 

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.

The Historic Thompson House in Barnesville

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Located in the small town of Barnesville on the western fringe of Minnesota, and just 30 miles from Fargo, lies a beautiful historic home on almost 5 acres of land. Built in 1903 for Peter and Hannah Thompson, the home was designed by the Hancock Brothers, one of North Dakota’s most prominent architectural firms. It is historically significant as the only surviving property in Barnesville associated with the Thompson family, commonly known as the “founders” of Barnesville, and is locally a rare example of the Classical Revival style (also known as Neoclassical), not to mention one of the last remaining homes designed by the Hancock Brothers in Minnesota. Remnants of the original carriage house foundation can still be found behind the home.

The Thompson House Barnesville, MN

361 2nd Street NE, Barnesville, MN

Peter E. Thompson was a mercantile store clerk for George Barnes in 1878, a businessman who opened the first grain collection center years before 7 miles outside of present day Barnesville. By 1880, Thompson owned the store and it quickly became the core of the settlement of Barnesville. As Barnesville grew, Peter Thompson emerged as a prominent leader. He served as the first postmaster from 1878 to 1885 and was elected the first justice in 1881. In 1889 he became the first Mayor and in 1891, Thompson was elected to the Minnesota legislature and served two terms. Needless to say, he made a lot of “firsts” for Barnesville.

Sadly, two years after moving into their new home, Peter died at the age of 52. Hannah lived at the home until her death in 1920. They had seven children and were known to be very generous, often taking employees or ministers and their families into their home. They also donated real estate for the first school, a local park, and two churches. Two of the Thompson boys owned the home following Hannah’s death, the last living there until 1975.

361 2nd Street NE Interior

Fireplace and Staircase

The current owners have been renovating the home and property for several years. Most of the first floor woodwork has been restored, a painstaking process of stripping, sanding, and re-staining the floors, decorative trim, doors, and elaborate staircase.  The original dumbwaiter is still present, and there is a small ladder in the attic leading to the widow’s walk. For the kid in all of us, the third story bedrooms feature small doors and windows leading to “secret passages” between each room.

The home is currently For Sale with additional information located at the property website.

In 1996, the home was added to the National Registry of Historic Places. The photos below are from the 1993 application and show how the home looked when it still had the second floor balustrade and roof widow’s walk balustrade. 

 
 
 

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 Donaldson House: A Look Into One of Minnesota’s Grand Homes

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

The Donaldson Mansion was selected last year to be featured in Larry Millet’s new book coming out in November, “Preserving Our Grand Homes: Minnesota’s Own”. It’s being published through the Minnesota Historical Society. Larry gave me a call asking if I knew of any extraordinary homes that might work for his book, and I said, “Well, yes, I think I have just the home you are looking for!”.  The owner was very excited and honored that his home was one of the few that made the cut list.

Larry and crew stopped by a month ago and filmed a short video of the home for the book release, and all I can say is that I wish it was longer!

Julius A. Coller House in Shakopee

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014
434 Lewis St S, Shakopee

434 Lewis St S, Shakopee

In 1887, Julius A. Coller built the first phase of this lovely home in a simple Victorian style influenced by Gothic Revival details in its steep gables, decorative trusses, and spindlework porch. Around 1900, the roof was raised to add a third story, and the house took on its present appearance and floorplan. The wrap around porch was added in 1915. Amazingly the home remained in the Coller family until the current owners purchased it in 2000.

Julius A. Coller was born in Shakopee in 1859, his father having settled in the area when Minnesota was still a territory and Shakopee nothing more than a frontier settlement. He worked in the local hardware store from 1877 to 1880 until he was elected City Clerk. A year later, while studying the law, he was elected to the county office of Clerk of the Court. Having married Ida Adams in 1885, he quickly began a family, built his home, and became a lawyer in 1887. He was a prominent attorney in Shakopee and was elected State Senator in 1898, representing Scott and Carver Counties, a position he held for 16 years.

Original House 1887

Original House 1887

Living Room Around 1900

Living Room Around 1900

House Around 1900

House Around 1900

 

 

Dacotah Cottage in Frontenac

Sunday, February 16th, 2014
28743 Garrard Ave, Frontenac, MN

28743 Garrard Ave, Frontenac, MN

It was in 1859 that Lewis Garrard moved to Frontenac (thus named the same year) and built a small one and a half story house with a few one-story wings coming off the main house. The main entrance faced the lake, had a small porch and balcony, and the property was surrounded by a white fence. He had been here before eight years earlier with his brother Israel, both men looking for land and investment opportunities. While his older brother stayed and became part owner of the town (called Westervelt at the time) with Evert Westervelt, Lewis traveled back home to Cincinnati and then on to Europe.

Original Dacotah Cottage

Original Dacotah Cottage

After his return, Mr. Garrard married in 1862 and decided to expand the home for his new family. The original house was turned into the larger, two-story home we see today, with hipped roof, covered front porch with sleeping porch above, larger double-hung windows, decorative lentils, and shutters. Later, a one story, northern wing that housed his medical office was removed and moved a block south.

Dactoah Cottage in Winter

In 1869, scarlet fever was sweeping through the small river towns. Lewis Garrard’s two young sons were stricken with the illness and later died. Devastated by their loss, the Garrard family moved to Lake City. Amazingly, they did not sell the house, but maintained it for the next 56 years, finally selling the home in 1926. It was purchased by Ted Hall, son of Osee Hall, a long time friend of the Garrard family. How long they owned it, I am not sure, but the home has been with the Hodgson family since 1960.

The Donaldson Mansion in Minneapolis

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
Historic Donaldson House
1712 Mount Curve Avenue, Minneapolis

Nestled on top of Lowry Hill in Minneapolis is a beautiful home like none other.Built in 1906, this stunning home was designed for Lawrence Donaldson, who with his brother William, founded the Donaldson Department Store in Minneapolis. The architectural firm of Kees and Colburn was commissioned to design the family’s residence, known for a number of major works in Minneapolis including the Grain Exchange Building, Donaldson’s Office Building, and the Charles H. Harrington Mansion. They later designed the Loring Theater, the Ford Centre, and The Lowry, to name a few.

Constructed mainly of brick, the home is exquisitely detailed with a mixture of several design styles, the most prevalent being Arts & Crafts and Beaux Arts. Subtle design elements throughout the home, linked to Mr. Donaldson’s Scottish heritage, feature the thistle. Probably the most identifiable symbol of all things Scottish, the flower can be found on the facade of the house, the entry columns, above the entry door, on the chimneys, in the living room Tiffany window, and more!

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John Bradstreet Sun Parlor

 
Completed sometime in 1907, additional modifications to the home began in 1908 by expanding the north side – a dining room and a second floor bedroom were enlarged, a sleeping porch was added, and the screened-in porch became an enclosed sun room. The Donaldson’s also hired well known designer John Bradstreet to create a Japanese inspired Sun Parlor, as well as design the Reception Room/Study off the main foyer. In 1916, the carriage house was completed with four large carriage stalls, a second floor apartment, a number of work rooms, and a connecting tunnel.

As happened to many large properties in the Twin Cities as time moved on, the estate was subdivided into six separate lots in 1959 when it was sold by the Donaldson family. After the passing of many decades and multiple owners, the main house was bought by the current owners in 2000, who later that year acquired the original northwest hillside lot extending down to Kenwood Parkway, and in 2001 the carriage house. With three of the six lots reunited, the land totals just over an acre, or 44,792 square feet, representing one of the largest residential properties in Minneapolis.

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John Bradstreet Study

 
This historic home is also For Sale: www.1712MountCurveAvenue.com. Thankfully the new owners had a vision of restoring the home back to its former splendor. Over the last decade, with love and dedication, some of the highest quality craftsman and artisans were employed to bring the home back to life, while incorporating state of the art technology and modern conveniences for today’s busy lifestyle.

Locust Lodge in Frontenac

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
29133 Garrard Ave, Frontenac signed 
29133 Garrard Avenue, Frontenac

Built around 1853, this beautiful example of a Greek Revival  home is quietly tucked away behind a row of trees, and at one time had grand views of the Mississippi River.  The local village was layed out by the original owner Evert Westervelt, comprising of 320 acres purchased from the wives of Jane Wells and Elizabeth Faribault, and properly named Westervelt. In 1859, the town was renamed Frontenac  in honor of Louis de Buade de Frontenac, governor general of Canada between 1670-1698.

Since Mr. Westervelt owned the land, he cut out six large lots of six acres each above the river, and built the first large home of the area in 1853 on the best lot. The first of its kind for the area, the home’s dolomite stone foundation was from the local quarry and most of the mill work was shipped in from out East. The home was named Locust Lodge by the owner for the locust trees on the land.

29133 Garrard Ave, Frontenac

In the photo above you can visualize the details common with Greek Revival – corners of Doric pilasters, decorative frieze with dentils, 6 over 6 window sash, and a gable will full pediment. Around 1900, a one-story addition was added to the rear of the home for a kitchen and bathroom.

Preservation isn’t just for grand houses

Friday, October 19th, 2012
The log cabin pictured around 1900-10 from Lakeshore Weekly News
So many times when hearing about historic preservation, people immediately think of some Victorian home or historic commercial building that is in need of saving. Either the home or building has fallen into ruin, seen forclosure, been destroyed by fire, been condemed by a city, etc. If it isn’t saved, it will be lost forever. But people often forget that historic preservation has no face and anything deemed to be significant to a community might be in need of saving.
Case in point, a little log cabin in Wayzata (shown above). Lakeshore Weekly News, a newspaper covering the greater Lake Minnetonka area, wrote an article this month about this 100+ year old cabin on Bushaway Road that’s future is not too certain. Irene Stemmer of the Wayzata Heritage Preservation Board is looking to save the little structure, as the current property owner wants it removed. It’s amazing that the cabin has survived this long and not been destroyed by current or previous owners. Besides its age, another cool fact is that the logs of the cabin are made out of Tamarack trees that once flourished in the area, but now no longer exist.
Either originally a squatter’s cabin or trapper’s cabin, according to the article, the log structure is the “oldest house in Wayzata”, says Stemmer. She is looking to save the cabin, but money for restoration and moving fees are still needed in order to preserve a part of the city’s history.
If you would like to look into helping preserve this historic log cabin, please contact Irene Stemmer of the Wayzata Heritage Preservation Board at istemmer@msn.com.