December 1, 2022

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We Do Fine Home

Landmark 1936 house on Cedar Lake in Minneapolis lists for $3.95 million

It was featured on the cover of the coffee table book “Legendary Homes of the Minneapolis Lakes.”

With its three tiers, glass blocks and multiple balconies, the modern and minimal house is recognized as an example of International and Art Moderne architecture styles, with a touch of Art Deco.

Designated a landmark by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation, the home was considered groundbreaking when it was built in 1936, said listing agent Jim Schwarz.

Oh, and that iconic house on Cedar Lake? It’s on the market.

Light-filled spaces, flat roof lines and smooth walls, rounded corners, semicircular bays, translucent blocks and round windows resembling portholes are incorporated into the design of the home. Schwarz said that the smooth, curved white walls provide a perfect backdrop for displaying modern furniture and art.

That’s one of the reasons art lover and homeowner Russell Cowles was drawn to the home four years ago.

“I fell in love with the interior elements of the house, including polished chrome stair hand railings, port hole door openings, coved ceilings,” he said. There are “multiple exterior decks with curved railings reminiscent of ship railings, and [there’s] incredible Art Deco kitchen cabinetry.”

Staying true to form

The home is referred to as the Kaufman Lacey House,named after the original owners as well as a later set of homeowners who made significant updates.

In the early 1930s, original owners V. Mel Kaufman and his wife, Henet, returned from the World’s Fair in Chicago inspired by the minimalist designs coming out of Europe. They hired architect James Brunet to build their home along the shores of Cedar Lake.

The house has changed hands a few times since. The Lacey family added an office, expanded the bathrooms, updated the balconies and installed a stair tower. A few years later, they added a third floor that included a primary suite with a walk-in closet and adjoining bathroom — all of which blended with the original facade.

Like the Laceys and previous owners, the current homeowner has made careful updates as well, freshening up spaces from top to bottom.

The interior and the exterior trim were given a paint refresh. Hardwood floors were refinished. Heating, air and electrical systems were updated. All the bathrooms were remodeled, with the exception of the primary third-floor bath.

Highlights include the addition of large handmade porcelain tiles by a local ceramist in two upper-level bathrooms as well as a hand-painted mural, also by a local artist, in the main floor powder room.

Some of the latest upgrades were inspired by Cowle’s “passion for steam locomotives, and the industrial design of Raymond Loewy,” said interior designer Laura Ramsey Engler, who worked on the home. Overall, “the project was intended to remain faithful to the house’s venerable history, while embracing Russell’s love of art, craft and color.”

While he oversaw many updates, there were things that Cowles made sure not to alter. Built-in kitchen cabinetry, including a walk-in pantry with a porthole door, was restored. He also restored the artsy, multicolored kitchen flooring that had been installed by a previous homeowner.

“I loved the personal touches such as the kitchen tile, patterned after a quilt,” Cowles said.

Setting sail

Now, it’s time for Cowles to say bon voyage, as he and wife Linda set sail on a new adventure. They’ve listed the four-bedroom, five-bathroom abode with more than 4,000 square feet.

“I’m recently remarried and I wanted a new house in a new location we both chose where we could enjoy a wonderful new life adventure together,” said Cowles.

New homeowners are likely to enjoy features such as two-sided fireplaces and the luxe bedrooms, some of which boast wet bars and adjoining spa-like luxe bathrooms. And, for those who want to enjoy water activities, there’s a private dock.

Schwarz said the views of the lake are majestic, whether from the landscaped terrace or from the many, many windows in the house. Also, “there are a lot of private balconies and decks,” Schwarz said.

Jim Schwarz ([email protected]; 612-251-7201) has the $3.95 million listing.