When Nancy Bigos bought a 1920 mansion on Lake Minnetonka’s Maxwell Bay, her friends wondered if she was planning to tear it down and start fresh on the serene setting.
“Absolutely not,” she recalled telling them. “It had good bones and energy — but did need a lot of love and care.”
The Orono lake home was originally built by James G. Fullerton, owner of a Minnesota lumber business, and the property remained in the Fullerton family until Bigos bought it for $4.65 million in 2010.
Over the next four years, Bigos renovated the original 9,000-square-foot home from top to bottom, while building a 5,800-square-foot addition to accommodate “the kitchen I’ve always wanted,” said the gourmet cook and entertainer extraordinaire.
After she converted the attic into guest quarters, the five-bedroom home now encompasses 15,858 square feet. The property, which includes 7 acres and 700 feet of lakeshore, is listed for $14.49 million.
An Old World bronze fountain greets visitors at the front entrance of the Euro-style brick beauty. “Once inside, you can see that it’s beautiful and over the top — in an elegant way,” said Cindy Redmond, a co-listing agent for Coldwell Banker Burnet.
While refreshing and renewing every space, Bigos remained true to the genteel residence’s rich character and period charm.
She preserved the rare marble flooring in the foyer, the wrought-iron railing on the staircase, and a carved wood fireplace surround depicting the Fullerton family floral symbol representing “friendship, love, peace and family,” she said.
Bigos hunted for antique light fixtures, such as the sparkling crystal chandelier in the formal dining room, and added JP Weaver decorative ceiling designs to “give it that Old World detail,” she said.
The home was also brought up-to-date with new electrical, plumbing, slate roof and a geothermal heating-and-cooling system.
Although a number of the 11 fireplaces are new, Bigos enlisted craftspeople to replicate age-old ornate fireplace surrounds. “The pool house fireplace has a symbol from my daughter’s sorority,” she said.
With five ovens and two islands, the kitchen “is state-of-the-art for any chef,” said Bigos, who cooks for 40 people at holiday family gatherings.
In fact, many of the amenities are in multiples — three walk-in closets in the master suite, three washers and three dryers in the laundry room, and finally, three garages.
Bigos collaborated with interior designer Marie Meko, and as a nod to the home’s history, she used Fullerton lumber for many of the projects. “Every room feels comfortable and wraps its arms around you,” she said.
The lushly landscaped grounds are a Lake Minnetonka version of the formal French Gardens of Versailles, with grassy walkways, manicured boxwood hedges, flowering shrubs and “Four Seasons” fountains.
After the sale, Bigos will miss coming home to the peaceful estate that “feels like I’m in Europe on a hillside far away,” she said. But she’s ready for the next challenge. This was her first home renovation and it won’t be her last, she said.
“It was so much fun. But I’d like to try something smaller next time.”
George Stickney, 952-476-3694 and Cindy Redmond, 612-850-7015 of Coldwell Banker Burnet, have the listing.