Archive for the ‘Tudor Revival’ Category

Medayto Cottage, also known as Spicer Castle

Thursday, September 27th, 2018
Spicer Castle on Green Lake

Medayto Cottage, Spicer, MN

Originally named Medayto Cottage, this grand home sitting on Green Lake in Spicer, Minnesota was built in circa 1895 by John M. Spicer.  To this day it is still owned by the family and, for the last 20 years, has been run as a Bed and Breakfast by his great-granddaughter under the name Spicer Castle. ( in Dakota “Medayto” translates to “Green Lake”)

John Mason Spicer was born 1841 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, the son of a Swiss father and Irish mother, and the only boy in a household of nine children. In 1852 his family moved to Illinois where he later took a position as a clerk in a general merchandising firm. Eight years later he was transferred to St. Paul, Minnesota, but took up a position soon after with Ingersoll and Company. Looking to expand into Belle Plaine, he was offered a partnership with Ingersoll and became a manager of a new store in that area. While in Belle Plaine, he met his future wife, Frances Deming, and in 1871, moved to Willmar, and established a general merchandise and farm implement business with Andrew Larson.

As the local community grew, Spicer furthered his business ventures by organizing the Kandiyohi County Bank in 1879 with other investors (of which he was president of the bank until 1884) and also formed  the Central Land Company in 1882. It was in this same year that Spicer helped champion the idea of creating a railroad line through the county, connecting the region with Duluth and southwest Minnesota. The Lake Superior, Willmar, and Dakota Railroad Company was formed in 1883 with Spiced elected as its president. An astounding $1.25 Million was raised ($31 Million in today’s dollars) for construction of the new line. With James J. Hill’s support, the line from St. Cloud to Willmar was completed in 1886. Another line, from Willmar to Souix Falls was completed in 1888.

Having become a major land owner and developer in Kandiyohi County, Spicer built Medayto Farm on a large parcel of lakeshore  on the south side of Green Lake in 1885. Ten years later he built his summer home Medayto Cottage over looking the lake.

Medayto Cottage as originally built in the Queen Anne Victorian style

It was in the 1930’s that local fishermen began commonly identifying the home for locating fishing spots as Spicer’s Castle, and the name stuck. Now known as Spicer Castle, even though none of his seven children or grandchildren were allowed to call it a “castle”, the home was enlarged and redesigned in the Tudor Revival style in 1913 with the help of Minneapolis architect J. E. Mason. It sits on 5 acres of lakeshore and still has the original bee house, greenhouse, barn, and a small log cottage on the property, though all have been turned into private rooms for the bed and breakfast. It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

Below is a short video story of Spicer Castle with current owners, the grandson and granddaughter of John Spicer.


Here are some old photos of the home and property supplied by the Spicer family:

Medayto Cottage as originally designed in the Queen Anne Victorian style
Spicer's Castle shortly after renovation in 1913
Family sitting by the lagoon created on the property
View of beach with slide and boats
View of Medayto Farm

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:

Best Home of the Summit Hill House Tour

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

By far the best home on the 2012 Summit Hill House Tour in St. Paul was 7 Heather  Place. Of course, I will throw in 5 Heather Place too, as they both are attached. These two homes are amazing, not only for their unique exterior facade, but also for their beautifully decorated interiors.

Built by two Jewish brothers in 1905-1906, Benjamin and William Goodkind were the president and secretary treasurer of St. Paul’s Mannheimer Brothers Department Store. The architectural firm of Reed and Stem, who are well known for the St. Paul Hotel, Grand Central Terminal in New York, and several homes in St. Paul, were commissioned to design the Tudor Revival homes, connecting them via the “Passover” seen below.

While the two homes have been “separated” by building bedrooms in the once long hall, they still appear as one to the casual observer. The original stone staircase stretching down to Grand Avenue from this central area is still present and the grounds are beautifully landscaped. 

It is hard to pick a favorite room in 7 Heather Place. I loved the kitchen with its original icebox and old world feel. The home has extensive woodwork and wood paneling throughout, and has the best little spiral staircase to the lower level that I have seen.  While the home is stretched long to fit the space, it is perfectly situated on one of the most amazing bluff sites in St. Paul.

Photo of the twin homes under construction in 1906 and another in 1915.

Other homes designed by Reed and Stem are 489 Grand Hill, 530 Grand Hill, 340 Summit Avenue.

The Weyerhaeuser Mansion in St. Paul

Monday, June 20th, 2011
480 Grand Hill, St. Paul, Minnesota

Designed by William Channing Whitney and built in 1908, this grand Tudor Revival historic home was fashioned for Frederick Weyerhaeuser towards the end of his life (1834-1912). He was a German immigrant from Niedersaulheim, Rhein-Hesse who began his lumber career in Illinois around 1858.

When he first arrived to the States in 1852, he was penniless. He worked as a day laborer in Pennsylvania, married, and a few years later moved to Illinois. There he worked on a railroad as a carter, then at a sawmill and a timber mill. Soon thereafter he acquired both businesses and furthered his holdings, buying up large tracts of land filled with quality timber. He became know in the world as the “Timber King”. Later, he moved his headquarters to St. Paul, MN in 1891 where he quickly became friends with James J. Hill. His accumulation of wealth through hard work is just another example of the great opportunities available in the States, and the dream that is America.

The house sits on a lovely bluff site overlooking St. Paul and has around 11,000 square feet. The woodwork decorating the home is quite beautiful, especially in the large foyer. Probably my favorite feature is the inset fireplace, big enough to fit a few chairs inside to enjoy the warmth of the fire on our cold Minnesota winter nights.

Short Biography

The Bean Mansion in New Prague

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

211 2nd Street NW, New Prague

The Bean Family is best know as the founder of International Multifoods. The son of the founder, Francis A. Bean, Jr. had this large Tudor home constructed in 1906. At one time, the property contained a tennis court as well as a rose garden, but sadly, both are no more.

Many of the family papers about the father Francis Bean Sr and his son are kept with the Minnesota Historical society. The father was originally from Massachusetts, moving to Minnesota in 1855.

Brick Tudor Revival Home on Portland

Monday, February 28th, 2011

487 Portland Avenue, Saint Paul

This stately Tudor Revival home is just over 100 years old having been designed by Thomas Holyoke in 1909. Built for Charles Bigelow III, president of Saint Paul Fire and Marine Insurance from 1876-1911, the home has a sister house right next door at 495 Portland, which was built the same year and by the same architect for Fred Bigelow, his son.

While originally built as a single family home, it is currently two condo units, with the initial divide happening in 1951. The grand staircase was removed at this time, but many original features remain, including the numerous leaded glass windows. In the 1990’s, the current owners renovated the large main floor living room which still retains the original wainscoting. Under decades of paint they uncovered beautiful Honduran Mahogany wood.

View a photo of the two Bigelow homes from 1972.

The Westerman House in Montgomery – SOLD

Friday, December 3rd, 2010
204 4th St SE, Montgomery

Currently for sale is a great historic Tudor style home in Montgomery, MN for $184,900. Built in 1937, the original owner was Dr. Alvin Westerman, son to the local lumber businessman, H. E. Westerman. Dr. Westerman’s family was close, with one of his brothers building a home next door.

The home is filled with beautiful American Black Walnut, oak, and pine – most likely from the family business. The house is offered for the first time to the open public with only two owners over the last 73 years. Sitting on a double lot, the home features large rooms, original light fixtures, original tiled bathrooms, two fireplaces, and much more!

Please visit to see additional photos and learn more about this fantastic home!

A Darker Version of Tudor Revival on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

This weeks historic home is located at 485 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul.

Built in 1907 for and by James A. MacLeod, this Tudor Revival designed home, with its muted tones is a stark contrast to the Victorian homes on Summit. I wasn’t able to find any original photos of the home in the archives, but it is well documented that a two story addition was added in 1911 designed by Reed and Stem (see another house they designed on Summit), and that a sleeping porch and sunroom were added in 1922.

Mr. Macleod did not own the home for long. He sold the home to John G. Ordway in 1913, whose family owned the home until 1975. Ordway was the manager and treasurer of the Crane Company, formerly known as the Crane and Ordway Co., which produced plumbing and heating supplies.

The home is currently valued for about $1.5 Million, sits on .25 acres, and boasts over 6600 square feet!

Tudor Revival Mansion on Summit Avenue

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

This weeks Historic Home is 807 Summit Avenue.

Built in 1906 by Clarence Johnston for the Samuel Dittenhofer family, this home definitely stands out from the Victorian homes nearby. Jacob Dittenhofer built the home as a wedding gift for his son, Samuel, and his wife Madeline Lang.

The beautifully designed Tudor villa has a first floor exterior of brick and a second and third floor of stucco and half-timbering. It also has many gables, a feature typical in the Tudor style, with one “leg” of the east gable stretching down to the first floor. This feature seems to be popular on the Avenue as it is represented in about one third of the Tudor homes on Summit Avenue. It hasn’t changed at all over the years. View a photo of the home as it appeared in 1920.

According to one source, the Dittenhofers went off to Europe in 1936 and never returned. The home sat vacant until Madeline donated it to the Christian Brothers in 1966. In 1999, the home was sold for $825,000 and returned to its single family residential status. It has approximately 9100 square feet, 12 bedrooms, and seven bathrooms.

Summit Hill Historic Home, St. Paul

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

This weeks Historic Home is located at 489 Grand Hill in St Paul, Minnesota.

The home was built for Carl Schuneman, the owner of Schuneman’s Department Store in downtown Saint Paul. The design was inspired by his wife who wanted to feel like she was back on the East Coast. Allen H. Stem, from the local St Paul firm, Reed and Stem was hired as the architect, who you might recognize as one of the architects of Grand Central Station in New York.

Built in the Tudor Revival style, the architectural details make the home stand out in a neighborhood of Queen Annes. Those details include the steeply pitched gable dormers, the two semi-hexagonal two story bays on the front facade of the home, and the stonework on the outside.

The home is quite large on the inside, having 11 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms, and five fireplaces. The current owner purchased the home in 1995 and hosts events for the Institute of Vocal Artistry on the main floor, an area that also saw vocal performances by Carl Schuneman’s daughter.