Archive for the ‘Minnesota Historic Homes’ Category

The Jonathan Grimes House in Edina

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018
Grimes House Edina MN

4200 W 44th Street, Edina

The Morningside neighborhood in Edina owes much of its land to an early pioneer who settled the area in the late 1850s. Jonathan Grimes,  along with his wife Elizabeth, were the first to settle in the Edina Mills district when they opened up a small nursery in 1858. Known as the Lake Calhoun Nursery, the business supplied boulevard trees in the city of Minneapolis, especially the Catapla tree, which the Grimes introduced to Minnesota. Grimes later became the first president of the Minnesota State Horticulture Society.

In 1859, Grimes bought the Waterville Mill (later renamed the Edina Mill), making much needed improvents to the dam and spillway. The mill supplied flour to the Fort Snelling Reserve during the Civil War and operated 24 hours a day during the early years of the war to keep up with demand.  Grimes sold the mill in 1867, and two years later, built his new home.

4200 W 44th Street, Edina

Side view of Home

Now the oldest standing home in Edina, the Grimes house is a great example of Gothic Revival architecture and is thought to be designed from a pattern book published in the 1850s. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and is a Heritage Landmark in Edina.

The Schillinger-Brings House in Saint Paul

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018
178 Goodrich Avenue Saint Paul MN

178 Goodrich Avenue, Saint Paul

This simple stone house with it’s hipped roof was built in 1859 by John Schillinger of locally quarried limestone. The home originally stood at 314 Smith (Oak) Street and was moved to its current location in 1989 to save it from demolition. It is one of the last remaining Pioneer era solid stone buildings in Saint Paul. The home is a great example of how early Minnesota homes mixed styles: the 6 over 6 double hung windows point to Greek Revival, while the hipped roof shows Italianate influence. The front porch was added circa 1890.

The house circa 1900 as it stood on Oak Street, later to be renamed Smith Street.

Schillinger and his wife were born in Weggis, Swizterland in 1823 and 1830, respectively, immigrating to America and settling in Saint Paul. He was a skilled stonemason and it is believed he built the home himself. In 1863, the home was sold to Joseph and Lucia Brings, recent immigrants from Germany, for $1300. Joseph worked as a cooper and operated out of his new home for a few years. Ever the entrepreneur, he expanded his business to include a saloon, grocery, and feed store. The Brings family raised 8 children in the home until they sold the home in 1873 and moved to the second story of their store on Fort Street, now known as West Seventh Street.

There is an excellent article about the history of this long standing Saint Paul family published by the Ramsey County Historical Society in 2015 which can be read here.

The Burwell House in Minnetonka

Monday, May 21st, 2018
The Burwell House in Minnetonka, MN

13209 Minnetonka Blvd, 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 mill’s 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 (see below). 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 era 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 spindles and woodwork.

Burwell House Tower

Additional Out Buildings

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 house mill 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 home is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is owned by the City of Minnetonka. Summer tours are available from June to August.

 

The Augustine B. Hawley House in Red Wing

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018
Augustine B. Hawley House in Red Wing

1105 4th Street W., Red Wing

On a large corner lot in Red Wing, sits a grand old home that can’t be missed, what with its purple porch and decorative eaves and brackets. It’s the home that Augustine Boyer Hawley built for his extended family in 1875. Sadly, he only enjoyed it for few years, dying at the young age of 44 in 1878, leaving behind his wife and 8 children.

The Man

One of the most generous things an old Minnesota family can do is donate their family history to the Minnesota Historic Society. Letters and papers help tell a story of not only their family members, but many times the history of the places they lived. There is a vast archive at MNHS about the Hawley family in Red Wing, including personal letters, that are a very intriguing read about the Hawley family, Red Wing, and history of the Minnesota and the United States.

Augustine Hawley arrived in Red Wing in 1857 to set up his medical practice, at the urging of a fellow Hobart classmate, and quickly became one of the preferred physicians in the area, traveling often to the countryside to see patients who were unable to come to town. He is described as a man of great character, intelligence, and charity. He was born in Caroline, New York in 1833 to Isaac A. Hawley and Anne Boyer, his father being a professor of the Classics at the University of Virginia.  In 1847, he entered Hobart College at the age of 14 and graduated with a Master of Arts degree in 1852. He went on to obtain his medical degree from Geneva Medical School in 1854. He studied medicine with his uncle, Dr. Joel Hawley, but continued his studies overseas for two more years in Edinburgh, Scotland, as well as Dublin, London, and Paris, before moving to Minnesota. During the Civil War, he was appointed to sit on the examination board to qualify surgeon applicants heading out to various regiments of the Minnesota Volunteers.

Hawley was instrumental in helping establish the Christ Episcopal Church in Red Wing, inspiring his college classmate Reverend Edward. R. Welles to move to Red Wing to become the church’s first minister. Welles later became the first Episcopal bishop of Wisconsin. He also encouraged a fellow class mate of Hobart College, Dr. Charles Hewitt, to move to Red Wing to take over his medical practice in 1867.  Hewitt, already a distinguished doctor for his surgeon skills and preventative approach to medicine, agreed. Hewitt later helped found the Minnesota State Board of Health in 1872, and after studying at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, in 1890, he established the first laboratory for producing the smallpox vaccine in the United States on Dakota Street.

The House

The home was built circa 1875 in the Italianate style out of locally quarried limestone. It features 15 foot tall ceilings and 18+ inch thick walls. The photo below shows details of the original front porch: thinner columns, decorative brackets, and a narrow full facade porch (all indicative of the Italianate period). In 1903, the home was purchased by Albert F. Bullen, secretary and treasurer of the Minnesota Malting Company, who initiated a major remodel of the home two years later. The architectural firm of Purcell and Elmslie was hired to transform the interior of the home into the more up-to-date Arts & Crafts style that was popular at the beginning of the 20th century. Today the home is a fine example of how even historic homes, at one time, have undergone remodels to more “modern” styles.

Photo of Home Circa 1875

As for the Arts and Craft remodel, the original oak staircase, which extended straight down towards the front entrance, was replaced by a curved walnut staircase extending into what was once a main floor bedroom. A formal dining room, with coffered ceiling, paneled walls, and an elaborate buffet, replaced a second, main floor bedroom. (These two bedrooms were occupied by the 2 dowagers, Mr. Halwey’s mother and his mother-in-law.) The formal living room was expanded from two rooms into one with major additions: grand wood beams to the ceiling, relocation of the fireplace, tapestry applied to the walls, and Tiffany light fixtures. The front porch was enlarged and changed to what is seen today.

A year before Mr. Bullen’s death, he sold the home to Henry Stebbins, President of the Red Wing Milling Company. Interestingly, Stebbins sold the home 12 years later to the next President of the same company, Harold Meech. Today, the home still retains most of the original features from the 1905 remodel, as well as many of the original 1875 exterior Italianate features. It now operates as the Moondance Inn, an established bed and breakfast in Red Wing.

Story

The Hawley family has many stories that contribute to the history of Red Wing and Minnesota. One interesting story involves the famous bank robbery in Northfield by the James and Younger gangs in 1876. Some of the gang members stopped in Red Wing before the robbery, and upon leaving, asked a six year old boy playing on the side of the road the best way to get to Northfield. The boy told them, and in return was given a silver dollar in thanks. After news of the robbery reached Red Wing, it was found out that the men asking for directions were the robbers, and the one who tossed the coin to the boy was Cole Younger. The boy was George M. B. Hawley, the young son of Augustine Hawley.

The Bed and Breakfast is also For Sale with more photos and interactive tour at the Property Website.

The front porch remodeled in 1905.
The front parlor originally had a corner coal burning fireplace.
The main living room was opened up from two rooms with the addition of a wood burning fireplace during the 1905 remodel.
The formal dining room was created from an original bedroom in the 1905 remodel.
This room was originally a front bedroom and was opened up during the 1905 remodel for the new staircase.
A chandelier thought to be from the 1905 remodel.
The staircase redesigned during the 1905 remodel
The newel post design from the 1905 remodel includes a motif that became a signature design element of architect and designer George Elmslie.

The Leedom Sharp House in St. Paul

Monday, January 15th, 2018

20-22 N. Kent, St. Paul

If you were a senior railroad employee in the late 1800’s, this home could have been the place your family resided while you traveled for work. Designed by Cass Gilbert and James Knox Taylor and built in 1889 as a double house, the residence of 20 Kent was designed for Leedom Sharp.

Sharp was born in New York City Janurary 20, 1860 to Benjamin Sharp and Hannah Leedom. His grandfather, John Sharp, immigrated from Yorkshire, England in 1815 and was a prominent merchant in Philadelphia, while his great-grandfather Leedom arrived in America much earlier and was a well known iron merchant in Philadelphia.

Leedom Sharp

In 1877, at the age of 17, he entered the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania and graduated three years later (he had to withdraw in 1879 before graduation due to his young age and graduate in 1880 when he would be allowed to enter the Bar at the age of 20). He went into practice, moving to St. Paul sometime in the 1880’s. While living here, he stumped for Benjamin Harrison’s presidential campaigns and found time to develop property in Ramsey Hill. (He commissioned Gilbert to also build rowhouses next door at the corner of Kent and Portland, known as Portland Terrace in 1888). He also found his wife and married in 1884. Discovering he had no taste for the law, he decided to follow in the footsteps of his uncle and brother and study medicine, moving back to Pennsylvania and earning his medical degree in 1895. He was raised a Quaker, and was also a Mason and Knight Templar.

As for the home he lived in for a few short years, the original main floor was divided into a living room and dining room and the living quarters were on the top two floors. There was a a double staircase (now converted to a single staircase) on the main floor, as well as a separate servant’s staircase. During the war, each floor became a separate apartment, but is now again a single family residence.

 

House in 1976

The Emerson Hadley House in Saint Paul

Friday, October 27th, 2017

123 Farrington Street, St. Paul

Renowned architect Cass Gilbert designed this Georgian Revival home in 1895 for Emerson and Mary Hadley, a prominent St. Paul attorney, at a cost of $8000. Originally (as shown in the photo below) the front entry had steps directly to the sidewalk, a balustrade above the entry, and porches along the entire front façade. The porches and balustrade were removed in the 1930s due to rot, as was a widow’s walk on the roof. The current carriage house and stone wall surrounding the property were constructed in the 1930s from stone salvaged from the Saint Paul City Hall building, demolished in 1932.

Photo of Home Circa 1897

Emerson was born in Marion, Massachusetts on December 27, 1857. He graduated from Harvard College in 1881 and then studied law at Columbia the following years before moving to Saint Paul in 1884 to set up his law practice. Three years later, he married Mary M. Luce, and had one child, Louise in 1892. Upon Emerson’s death in 1916, the house was inherited by his daughter and her husband, Dr. Carl Bigelow Drake.

According to Louise’s son, Harry Drake, Louise thought the living room too small for proper entertaining, so in 1917,the home was sold to Perry Dean and Mary Gribben. Mary was the daughter of Edward Saunders, president of the Northwestern Fuel Company who lived down the street at 323 Summit Avenue. Perry Dean was a 1903 graduate of Yale University and enlisted in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps Reserve in 1917. On February 20, 1918, his automobile was hit by a trolley car when his chauffeur was unable to negotiate snow-covered street car tracks on Selby Avenue. He was thrown from the car resulting in a fractured skull and died in the hospital the following day.

Unique features of the home include a music room designed by Cass Gilbert with curved walls to deliver better acoustic sound, as well as original glass folding doors instead of pocket doors.

 

The Schneider Tavern in Frontenac

Saturday, September 16th, 2017
The Schneider Tavern at 28971 Wood Avenue, Frontenac, MN

28971 Wood Avenue, Frontenac

Built in 1862 by Engelbert Haller and Kasper Koch, this lovely Greek Revival building was originally built to operate as a general store and served as the township’s stagecoach stop; however, two years after completion it was sold to Jacob Schneider who used it as a tavern and hotel. The tavern and store were located on the main floor (now the living room and office), with simple accommodations to rent upstairs. A separate entrance on the side of the home was used so guests could access the rented rooms and store without passing through the tavern, and is the reason why the main staircase is located behind the front rooms and not at the front of the home (like residential homes of the era). The Schneider Tavern was in operation until 1887 when it was sold to the son of Evert Westervelt.

Evert Westervelt arrived to the area from Pennsylvania in 1852 and is the founder of the small town of Frontenac, originally named Westervelt. Having opened a local limestone quarry of dolomite shortly after his arrival (which supplied all the local limestone foundations, walls, and tombstones), he purchased a total of 320 acres of land as the site of his new town and began the process of plotting streets and lots to sell to future settlers. In 1859, the town was renamed Frontenac in honor of Louis de Buade de Frontenac, governor general of Canada between 1670-1698. (Minnesota did not become a state until 1858).

The home stayed in the Westervelt family until it was purchased in 1982 by a couple who began the restoration process and opened the home as a bed and breakfast. In 1999, the current owner purchased the home, and over a decade, restored and updated the home further, including the restoration of the front porch. Using old photos, the owner was able to recreate the original design and trim detail.

Photo of the home pre-bay window on the side of the home.

Old photos of historic homes are extremely useful for restoration efforts and determining what architectural elements were original or added in later decades. For instance, the Schneider Tavern, was not originally built with a bay window on the southern side of the home, to the left of the porch. It was added later, sometime after 1891, when Westervelt purchased the home and used it as a private residence (we can surmise that the above photo was taken after 1891 simply because that was the year the American company of Anchor Post and Fence bought the patent rights to the chain link fence from a United Kingdom company and began production in the United States). From what I have read in a book about Frontenac, there is a question on whether the Moorish attic windows were added later, but looking at old photos and the design of the home, it appears they are original to the structure. Other questions have been asked about the decorative gable trim (if it was added by more recent owners), but again, old photos show the gable trim and porch brackets date to at least pre-1887.

Schneider Tavern pre-rear porch enclosure, but after bay window addition

This home is currently “pending” for sale. Additional information, photos, and an interactive 3-D tour can be viewed at the property website.

 

Original limestone horse hitching post that was quarried from Westervelt's local limestone quarry.
Original limestone stagecoach steps that were quarried from Westervelt's local limestone quarry.
An original small horse barn on the property
Up close photo of the Moorish attic windows and decorative gable trim.

The Judson Bishop House in St. Paul

Saturday, August 19th, 2017
193 Mackubin Street, St. Paul, MN

193 Mackubin Street, St. Paul

Judson Bishop

Judson Bishop

Built in 1882, this grand home was commissioned by Judson Wade Bishop of the Second Minnesota Regiment and designed by architect Abraham M. Radcliffe. Featuring a limestone and Kasota stone foundation, the French Second Empire styled home is easily recognized by its mansard roof and sits on close to a half-acre of land.

Born in Evansville, New York in 1831, Bishop was the son and grandson of Baptist ministers. He studied civil engineering and worked as a draftsman in Ontario before moving to Chatfield, Minnesota in 1857.  While residing in Chatfield, he worked as a railroad surveyor and served as the principal and teacher of Chatfield Academy. He helped form the 2nd Minnesota Regiment during the Civil War, being the first man to muster in and the last man to muster out. He is remembered for his courageous military actions during the war and in particular for leading his troops into battle up Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1863. A painting depicting this famous historic scene hangs in the Governor’s Reception room at the state capital (Bishop is depicted as the soldier waving his hat). He was promoted rapidly during the war, and received a brevet promotion to brigadier general in March 1865.

The Second Minnesota at Missionary Ridge, 1906

Bishop returned to his job after the war moving from Chatfield to Le Sueur, to Mankato, and then finally to St. Paul when he was promoted to U.S. Deputy Surveyor in 1866. He also served as the general manager for the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad from 1871-1883. Bishop is well known in Minnesota history, especially for his published works about the Civil War (The Story of a Regiment, 1890and his time with the railroad in Minnesota (History of the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad, 1905).

Bishop married his first wife Ellen Husted in 1866, having four sons together before her death in 1878. A few years later he purchased land west of the Cathedral and built this beautiful home. His next wife Mary Axtell,whom he married in 1884, bore him five more daughters. The house served as the Bishop family residence until his death in 1917.

Detail in a Fireplace

Over the next 65 years, the home passed through a succession of owners, being broken up into no less than 18 sleeping rooms. When the present owners purchased the home in 1982, it was in terrible disrepair. The front porch had been removed, the roof leaked, the siding was rotting, and it had suffered from vandalism and attempted theft of the interior woodwork. It took the owners over 5 years to restore the home back to its original grandeur.

Interestingly, Bishop’s youngest daughter, Middy, visited the home and current owners before her death (1992 at 90 years old). She told them wonderful stories about the home, including how her father was always worried the Christmas tree candles would start a fire, and that F. Scott Fitzgerald came to her birthday party once and was quite rude.

 

The Wadsworth Williams Tudor Revival Home in Minneapolis

Monday, June 19th, 2017
Wadsworth Williams Home in Minneapolis

1314 Mount Curve Avenue, Minneapolis

Designed by architect William Kenyon for Wadsworth and Ida Williams in 1931, the home has known only three owners durings its life. Mr. Williams was born in 1875 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moving to Minnesota in the late 1890’s to attend Carleton College in Northfield, graduating in 1900. At the time, Carleton College did not offer specific degrees, thus Wadsworth graduated with a study in Classics. (He later served on Carleton’s Board of Trustees from 1937-1959, and in the early 1960’s his widow, Mrs. Ida Bourne Williams, made a gift to Carleton for the creation of a Chair in Economics as a “perpetual memory” to her husband – the Wadsworth A. Williams Professor of Economics.) Fifteen years after graduation, at the onset of World War I, Williams was a working as a clerk for the banking and investment firm Wells & Dickey Company. Decades later he had worked his way up to become Vice President of the company. According to a descendant of the family, the “home was built during the depression to create jobs for people who could both learn and build a beautiful, highly crafted home to lift everyone’s spirits at a time of great struggle”.

1314 Mount Curve Avenue, Minneapolis MN Bargeboard Decoration

Decorative Bargeboard

What they created was a fantastic example of the Tudor Revival style in stone, stucco, and half-timbered design and clearly showcases the excellent craftsmanship of the era. Original exterior architectural details abound, adding a story book element to the home: medieval styled arched entry door, copper gutters with fine details of acorns and hearts, decorative bargeboards, ornamental gables, and leaded glass casement windows. It is the perfect home for a historical minded buyer who appreciates the fine details this home has to offer.

The home is currently For Sale and additional photos of the home can be viewed at the property website.

Here are some photos of the decorative features of the home, inside and out:

The Vasa Children’s Home

Friday, June 2nd, 2017
Vasa Children's Home

15251 Old Childrens Home Road, Vasa Township, MN

When Hans Mattson immigrated from Sweden and founded “Mattson’s Settement” in 1853, along with other Swedish farmers, little did he know how his small town would hold so much hope for others. (He himself would become the Minnesota Secretary of State, serve in the Civil War, and become the United States Consul General of India). A decade later, after Reverend Eric Norelius founded the local Lutheran church, the true calling of the town began to unfold with the creation of what would become the first private children’s home in Minnesota.

In 1865 Reverend Norelius learned of four children in St. Paul, recently immigrated from Sweden, that were orphaned and in need of care. Norelius brought them to Vasa and housed them in the basement of the Lutheran church. Not being adequate for long term living, he was able to purchase 10 acres of land a few years later near the church, and in 1869, built a small house for the children. This was the first of four homes to be used for orphans on the present day land. In 1876, a second larger house was built, but it was destroyed by a tornado in 1879. The third home, built with-in the year, was destroyed by fire in 1899 when a young child was playing with matches in a clothes closet. The Neo-classical styled home seen today was built in 1899, soon after the fire, and is the final remaining home built on this location. It ceased being a children’s home when a new facility was built outside of Red Wing in 1926, but through it’s years has witnessed and cared for hundreds of children.

The Original School House

The home sat vacant for nearly 40 years, until a couple bought the home in 1968 and began restoring the property. It currently is comprised of 2 parcels totaling 34 acres of woods, pasture, and tillable land. Further improvements have been made by subsequent owners since then, including the grounds, expansive gardens, the addition of a guest house, and more. Today, this historic home stands as a testament to the hard work of many to preserve it for future generations. A few other structures that still stand and are original to the property include a small school house, barn and silo, and caretaker’s cottage. There are several building ruins on the site, too.

Barn and Silo

One of the original barns and silo still standing.

The home was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, along with the Vasa Township Historic District, in 1975.

It is currently For Sale with more photos and a 3-D interactive tour at the Property Website.

The second children's home built on site.
Second Children's Home destroyed by tornado in 1879.
Fourth children's home, circa 1900.
Fourth children's home showing an additional building, circa 1900
Photo of fourth home circa 1907 with school house in back of photo.
Fourth home with children, windmill can be seen in back of photo.