Archive for the ‘Queen Anne Victorian’ Category

The Anton Gag and Wanda Gag House in New Ulm

Monday, April 3rd, 2017

226 North Washington Street, New Ulm

This fascinating Queen Anne Victorian home was built in 1894 by Anton Gag as the beginning of what would become a large family of seven children with his second wife Lizzie. Anton was born in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) in 1858, and was 14 years old when he immigrated to the United States with his parents, sister and brother-in-law, and older brother Joseph in 1873. His eldest sister had arrived three years earlier and was settled in Cottonwood Township, just outside of New Ulm. While his mother moved to live with her daughter, Anton lived with his brother in St. Paul until 1979 when he moved to New Ulm.

Details of the restored tower.

Known as an artist, Anton became the protege of August Schell, founder of Schell Brewery and leader of the Turnverein, the German fraternal organization that comprised of the who’s who of New Ulm. Apparently  he showed so much promise as an artist that Schell sent him to art school in Chicago and Milwaukee. He married his first wife in 1886, but sadly she passed away 13 months after the wedding, as did his infant daughter a month later. Anton was by this time a respected artist, having a photographic studio to earn income. He also painted landscapes, portraits, and still lifes. Living in an area with strong German-Bohemian immigrant influence, as well as daily influence of old customs, folk songs, and German, his art was greatly influenced by his Bohemian background. His painting, “Attack on New Ulm During the Sioux Outbreak” was painted in 1904 and hangs in the State Capitol in St. Paul.

Artistry and creativity ran in the family, especially in his eldest daughter Wanda. After graduating from New Ulm High in 1912, she went on to study art in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and New York. She eventually became a world-famous watercolor painter and print-maker after a stint in commercial art. Maybe you are familiar with her most famous book, Millions of Cats, written in 1928. It holds the title as the oldest American picture book still in print. Her youngest sister, Falvia, also became an author and illustrator of 8 children’s books and specialized in watercolor paintings. (To learn more about the family of artists, visit the local website)

As for the house, it was sold when Lizzie Gag died in 1918. It languished over the years and six owners until it was purchased by the Wanda Gag House Association in 1988. Over a period of 20 years, it was restored to it’s early 1900s appearance inside and out. Original stenciling in the dining room and parlor have been uncovered, and the exterior colors have been matched to the documented original colors. It was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1979, before restoration. Today it is an interpretive center and museum dedicated to the artistic legacy of the Gag family which the public can tour and visit.

The house in 1894 newly built.
The house in 1989 before restoration.
The house as seen today restored
Anton Gag
The Gag family children
“Attack on New Ulm During the Sioux Outbreak"

The John Hutchinson House in Faribault

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017
Historic Hutchinson House in Faribault

305 2nd Street NW, Faribault

Sitting high on a lot amongst some of the oldest and most prestigious homes in Faribault is a lovely Queen Anne Victorian home that was built in 1892 for John Hutchinson, a prominent and successful businessman in the area. This “Painted Lady” features a unique three-story octagonal tower and an ornate porch which wraps around the front façade. Many of the original interior architectural elements survive such as pocket doors, gingerbread trim, inlaid hardwood floors, two elaborate fireplaces, and a beautiful decorative staircase (an amazing achievement for a home that at one time in its history was a boarding house and whose floorplan has been slightly altered over the years). The home was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1982 and is currently operating as the Historic Hutchinson House Bed and Breakfast.

Hutchinson was born in Montreal, Canada in 1840, immigrating to the United States with his parents in 1851. Eight years later, he settled in Rice County and worked with his father in farming, as well as a contractor and builder. In 1862, he enlisted with the 6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, serving first in the US-Dakota War of 1862, and then moving south a few years later to fight in the Civil War. After mustering out in 1865, he returned to Minnesota to begin a career in the saw-milling and lumber industries. It was in 1885, after a stint as manager for the Flynt Furniture Company, he founded the Faribault Furniture Company, in partnership with Albert Stockton. The company became the leading manufacturer of furniture in the region. Not one to dabble in only one trade, he also partnered the Faribault Roller Mills and Faribault Loan and Insurance Company.

Times were hard for Hutchinson when it came to family, losing his first wife in 1876, and his second wife just a few years after moving into the Queen Anne home. He married his third wife in 1902. In 1915, he moved to California with his wife and youngest child, passing away in November of that year at the ripe old age of 75. His prominent home still survives though, and stands as a testament to the prestige and beauty of a bygone era in Faribault, Minnesota.

This historic property is currently listed For Sale, with additional information available at the property website . The B&B business is also for sale separately. Make sure to view the 3-D Interactive Home Tour, too.

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.

 

The Alfred Berry House

Monday, February 27th, 2012
111 Bryant Ave NE, Hector

In 1901 this stylish Victorian was built for Alfred Berry of the Berry Brothers Flour Company in Hector, Minnesota (just 90 miles west of Minneapolis). Amazingly this home was owned by three generations of Berrys from first construction up to 1997, when the last Mrs. Berry passed away. Across the street was the Berry Brothers Flour Mill built in 1899, shown in the photo below. It burned down in 1977.

What I find most intriguing about this home is its story of survival, passed on to me by the current owner. Too many times our historic homes and buildings are cast aside or torn down for something newer and uglier, especially in rural areas of Minnesota. Their vast size and ornate decorations are looked upon as burdens to neighborhoods or cities, without any vision or forward thinking of what they could once again become. Preservation is dear to my heart, and I am very happy to see the Berry House saved from an ugly fate.

In 2006, before the current owner purchased the home, it was slated to go into Section 8 housing by the Minneapolis owner who used it as a rental. The old radiator pipes had been neglected and allowed to freeze, thus rendering them useless, and the rest of the home was in a rapidly declining state. Even though there was a ton of work to do, the new owners had a vision of bringing the home back to its former glory and set out on a restoration project that still continues today. What they have accomplished is simply beautiful, and the residents of Hector are happy to see this home brought back to life.

 The Berry House (Before 2006)

 

The Berry House (After Restoration)
Original Photo of the Home with the Berry Family

If you would like to view additional photos of the renovation, please visit the home owners website or the archived listing on OldHouses.com.

the Julius F. Young House in Owatonna

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012
111 University St. W, Owatonna

Built in 1898, this lovely Victorian home was built by Julius Frederick Young, a local jeweler and businessman in Owatonna, MN. It is in fact built on the land purchased by Mr. Young and platted into a small subdivision (known as JF Young) in 1896, giving him the opportunity to pick the best lot. Christened “Terrace Hill” by the family, the home sits high on the lot and still retains the original carriage house, now used as a two car garage.

Sometime after 1908, the front facade of the home, which faced Cedar Avenue, was changed to face University. The front door was relocated and the original staircase was removed to make a main floor office and new bedroom for the second floor. (What a loss!) A new staircase was placed inside the main level turret and a bathroom was created out of the second floor turret. I was able to obtain a photo of the home circa 1908 which shows the original look of the front exterior and location of the front door and windows.

Comparing the two photos, you can see that several windows have been removed or enclosed and that the stone porch foundation has been altered. I can only imagine how grand the main staircase was, or what the turret rooms were used for. I would have to guess that the main level turret room was the receiving parlor or office, as it has huge pocket doors into the main living room. Below is the same view of the current east facade.

Notice the three season porch off to the left of the home. This was originally the porte cochere and enclosed at some time. The carriages would pick up passengers here, then wind around to the front of the home on the path above the boulders. This is simply an amazing property!
The home is currently listed for sale for $169,900. Please visit the property website for additional photos.

Grand Victorian in Bryn Mawr, Minneapolis

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

2006 Laurel Avenue W, Minneapolis

This grand Queen Anne Victorian home located in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis was constructed in 1888 by Erick Lund for Eugene A.L. Arnold at a cost of $6000. It was later bought by Henry R. Higgins in 1904. The best interior feature of the home is the grand central staircase and wide entry foyer.

The most notable family to reside in the home was the Viehmann family, who owned the property from 1908-1931. George Viehmann ran the Viehmann Grain Company, and his family continued to have success in other business ventures.

Below are additional photographs of the home, the first being a winter view. The second is a photo from the Hennepin History Musuem, most likely taken sometime before 1970 when the home was addressed as 2000 Laurel Ave W.

Impressive Queen Anne Historic Home in Stillwater

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

306 Olive St W, Stillwater, MN

Drive down Olive Street and you just can’t miss this huge Queen Anne historic home. Built in 1882, the home was owned by John O’Brien, a local lumber businessman. He added some expansive additions to the home in 1896 to house his large family of eight plus three additional servants. However a few years later, the family moved West as the lumber boom in Stillwater was starting to slow down.

Like many historic homes, this one too fell into despair as the years wore on, but in 1981 it was saved by a couple who converted the home into one of Stillwater’s first Bed and Breakfast establishments – The Rivertown Inn. In 1999, new owners made the B & B even grandeur with many restorations, including the exterior, thus preserving the home for decades to come.

Victorians in Pensacola

Friday, October 15th, 2010

We recently traveled back to Pensacola to visit friends and family, having lived in Pensacola for three years not too long ago. One thing I loved about the area was the numerous Victorian homes still standing in downtown, and in the surrounding historic districts.

The most notable difference in Queen Anne historic homes in Pensacola from those in Minnesota, is the front double porch. I love this style, and took some photos while I was walking the neighborhood so my readers could see what I am talking about. Not only do you get a covered area to enjoy the day, the views from the upper porch are fantastic.

You’ll also notice the floor-to-ceiling windows, roughly the same height as the doors. This was done so people could open the window and walk out onto the porch from their rooms. The reason they chose windows, instead of additional doors, is because at the time, homes were taxed based on the number of doors they had entering a home. By making the openings into large windows, they avoided the tax!

Brick and Stone House on Summit Avenue

Thursday, June 24th, 2010
332 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota

Built in 1889 by Edgar Long, the home was designed by the Cass Gilbert and James Taylor (who also built together the home next door, 322-324 Summit Avenue). At the time, this amazing home was built for only $30,000. It is reported that Mr. Long was the in the lumber business, as were many of the wealthy home owners on Summit, and the general manager of the Railway Supply Company.

Amazingly, not much has changed with this home. While many homes in the area have lost their porches, or had additions put on the home, this home has only had a few minor changes. The coach port, as seen in this photo, has been enclosed and now houses the kitchen on the main floor, with a sun room on the second level (addition). For the grand homes on this side of Summit, the kitchens were originally located in the basement, with food delivered via dumb-waiters. It was believed that the smell of food would cause appetites to sour, so all food was prepared below the home. The new kitchen, since placed in the once porte cochere, has the exterior wall of the home as an interior wall, letting you see the grand door arches that were once entrances into the home from a carriage.

The rear of the home has seen some changes, namely to the porch stairs, as well as the missing railing on the top balcony, and the third story breeze way has been enclosed with glass. You can see how the home looked in 1890 from this photo.

At about 7600 square feet, the home is very large, with seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a third story game room. One of the draw backs would be the one car garage underneath the kitchen, but many of these homes lack adequate garage stalls. The saving grace is that the garage is a drive through into the back yard, offering further private parking if needed. When these mansions were built, carriage houses existed to the rear of the home, but most of these are long gone. At 332 Summit, the ruins of the original carriage house are still present.

The home recently sold in 2006 for $1,499,000.

Summit Avenue Queen Anne in Saint Paul

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

265 Summit Avenue in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Built in 1885 for $10,000, the home was designed by C.W. Mould for John Robertson. Designed as a simple Queen Anne Victorian, it has a brick exterior and limestone foundation. You cannot see it from my photo, but there is a tower on the right side of the home. The top of the tower was closed in at the time of this photograph, but at one time was an open balcony with spectacular views of Summit Avenue and the surrounding homes. I believe the last time I drove by the home it appeared the new owners had opened the area once again.

With about 5500 square feet, the home has three stories, and if you know anything about the third stories of these historic homes, then you know they have amazing ceiling heights. The home has only had about five owners during its long life, and the last owners have been stewards for over 40 years. There are original Tiffany light fixtures in the home, as well as the original woodwork and trim. The best room in the home is probably the oval dining room with curved built in buffets. Take a look at the “Fire, Wind, Water” stain glassed windows located at the grand staircase.

I had to opportunity to view the home for a client a while back when the home was listed for sale. It is a very beautiful home, in need of many updates and remodeling. I am sure the new owners will have a wonderful time restoring the home to its former splendor.