When I was recently contacted by an architect’s family relocating to the Twin Cities from across the country I was excited to learn they are lovers mid-century modern architecture. I found a home designed by noted Twin Cities mid-century modern architect Elisabeth (Lisl) Close for sale in University Grove… but they wanted to live on the other side of the city. The home of another mid-century modern architect, David Griswold, was also for sale… but it also didn’t fit any of their top three criteria. When she contacted me and said ‘you are going to think we are nuts’ and then gave me the address of the home that piqued their interest, I told her I had already planned to show it to them when they arrived whether they asked to see it or not! It was the home of David Griswold that captured their hearts and it was perfect for them!
It is often easy to spot homes sensitively designed by an architect from the street not only by the design itself, but also because they are so specifically designed to fit the setting. This home is tucked back below street level on over a half acre, unassuming and unlike the neighboring homes. It would be easy to drive right by and not even notice it if you aren’t paying attention.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature that sets it apart is the minimal windows on the north side… small, high windows along the whole north perimeter to let in light and give the ceiling a floating feeling on the upper level. Not only is minimal windows on that side more energy efficient, it also doesn’t have a view so there is no real reason for windows other than to let in light. The south side, however, has a spectacular view of the woods going down to a pond at the bottom of the hill. It is totally lined with windows on both levels that not only welcome the view, but also bring in amazing light and ambient heat in the winter when the trees are leafless. When we saw the home when it was empty, Mrs. Buyer said the light streaming in was so amazing that she almost didn’t want to bring in any furniture!
The interior has incredible interior finishes, including luxurious terrazzo floors, distinctive brick, gorgeous redwood and cherry wood… there are no plastered walls in the entire home! The new owner said the home would not be able to be rebuilt today because the wood is simply no longer available.
When a home is the right fit, everything seems to fall into place… I see it happen over and over again. This home that Twin Cities mid-century modern architect David Griswold built for himself was for sale for only the second time since it was built in 1957 and its original integrity was untouched. Through the wonders of modern technology my buyers were able to experience it and come to an agreement to purchase it before they they even set foot in Minnesota…and when they arrived they were thrilled to visit their soon-to-be new home in person and see that it was everything they dreamed it would be!
The Twin Cities has some unique treasure troves of mid-century modern architect designed homes. Some are enclaves such as University Grove by the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus… or the group of homes along Stonebridge Boulevard near the Mississippi River on land that was once part of the lost Stonebridge estate. Many others are scattered throughout the metro, often in first-ring suburbs. Typically these homes don’t sell very often because the people who live there love them and don’t leave unless they are forced to for some reason. Let us know if you would like go on a mid-century modern home search. It can be a real coup to buy one of these unique homes… and an even bigger one if you are lucky enough to find an architect’s own home!
Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results