Twin Cities' gems of midcentury modern architecture will be on tour – Minneapolis Star Tribune

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Within the late 1950s, when Golden Valley’s remaining farmland was being developed into neighborhoods, Rosemary and Dick Thorsen purchased lots on Bassett Creek, intent on constructing a home for his or her rising household.

“We knew we wanted an architect, and we appreciated Prairie fashion,” recalled Rosemary. They admired the work of an architect who had designed a home for some pals, in order that they sought him out. Franz Gayl was a colourful German-born former Nazi paratrooper who later studied architecture on the College of Minnesota.

Gayl spent greater than a 12 months perfecting his design for the Thorsens’ home, a break up-degree tucked right into a hillside on a curve of the creek.

“It’s set on the location in such a good way,” stated Karen Rue, an Edina Realty agent and board member of Docomomo Minnesota, a nonprofit group that's internet hosting a tour of the house, together with six different examples of midcentury modern design within the Twin Cities space.

The tour, an annual occasion, is a fund­raiser for Docomomo, in addition to a strategy to promote appreciation and preservation of midcentury modern properties. This 12 months’s tour will be interactive, stated Rue, with present and unique homeowners in most of the properties to speak with tourgoers.

“I’m enthusiastic about that,” she stated. “Different years, now we have had nice properties, however you go out and in and don’t meet the homeowners. This 12 months, homeowners will be half of the tour to speak about residing in and loving this sort of residence.”

They’ll additionally share insights about reworking challenges they’ve confronted, equivalent to the way to make updates whereas respecting the architectural integrity of the unique residence.

For instance, when the Thorsens requested Gayl to design an indoor pool a number of years after transferring in with their three younger kids, he dragged his ft, insisting that the addition would be too costly.

“He stated, ‘Take the cash and go to Europe,’ ” Rosemary recalled. However Gayl lastly got here up with a design, and the Thorsens received their pool.

Their picturesque Bassett Creek setting was a catalyst for Rosemary ultimately turning into Golden Valley’s first feminine mayor. Not lengthy after the household moved in, town proposed widening and straightening the creek, a plan the Thorsens opposed.

“It’s such a beautiful tributary of the Mississippi,” Rosemary stated. “We purchased the lot as a result of of its magnificence.” She grew to become an activist, and arranged a petition drive that efficiently quashed the proposal. “That’s how I received fascinated by native politics,” she stated.

She later served on the Metropolis Council and was elected mayor in 1979, serving two phrases.

The Thorsens lived of their creekside dream residence for greater than three many years earlier than promoting it in 1994.

“I assumed I'd dwell there till they carried me out,” Rosemary stated. However sustaining the yard grew to become too difficult for the empty nesters, who now dwell in a downtown Minneapolis apartment.

“I nonetheless love the place,” she stated of their former residence. She, her husband and their two daughters will all return for the tour.

Architectural pedigree

Different properties on this 12 months’s tour embody two further neighboring properties in Golden Valley, three properties in St. Paul and one in Falcon Heights, within the College Grove neighborhood, an enclave of midcentury modern properties, many designed by College of Minnesota architecture professors.

Two of the homes on the tour have been designed by outstanding architects — one within the St. Anthony Park neighborhood by Carl Graffunder, who additionally designed Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina and Bethany Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, and the home in College Grove, which was designed by the famend husband-spouse duo Winston and Elizabeth Shut.

That home, inbuilt 1939, was accomplished not lengthy after the couple began their agency and married — reportedly over their lunch hour. Elizabeth “Lisl” Shut signed one of the drawings for the home along with her maiden identify, Scheu, famous Rue.

The home was chopping-edge for its period, with an open flooring plan, natural supplies and a flat roof, uncommon for Minnesota.

“It’s a surprising instance of how forward of her time she was,” Rue stated. “It’s nonetheless in nice form.”

Not like many of in the present day’s new properties, which characteristic hovering ceilings and voluminous areas, the midcentury properties on the tour have been constructed on a snug, human scale, Rue stated. They’re modest in dimension, at the least in contrast with properties of the McMansion period and later.

“There’s not an enormous quantity inside every home. Some have 4 bedrooms, however they’re not supersized. In that period, bedrooms have been for sleeping.”

Rue, who grew up in a midcentury rambler in Indiana, stated she is an enormous fan of the period’s architecture.

“I discover the size, consolation and ease of the aesthetic extraordinarily interesting,” she stated. “And the individuals who personal these properties love being there, sharing the area and its uniqueness.”

Touring modern properties

What: Tour seven non-public properties, all examples of modern and midcentury modern architecture. Homeowners will share details about current updates, and a few unique homeowners will be on hand to debate their residence’s historical past. Introduced by the Minnesota chapter of Docomomo (Worldwide Committee for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Websites and Neighborhoods of the Modern Motion).

When: 10 a.m.-Four p.m. Oct. 7.

The place: Properties are positioned in St. Paul, Falcon Heights and Golden Valley.

Tickets: $50 ($30 for Docomomo members); $15 for college students. Register at

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Twin Cities' gems of midcentury modern architecture will be on tour - Minneapolis Star Tribune