Michele Goodwin and Gregory Shaffer had accepted positions as law professors at the University of Minnesota Law School and needed to relocate from Chicago to Minneapolis.
A turn-of-the-century house on Pillsbury Avenue had everything they were looking for -- a walkable Minneapolis neighborhood, well preserved distinctive architecture and a big yard.
But it was the back-yard lap pool that sold the couple on the home in 2007. "It was fabulous," said Goodwin, who swims laps every day. "We could live in the city and have a pool."
Before they moved in, the couple discovered that the regal Colonial Revival, characterized by ionic columns, ornate dentil molding and clapboard siding, was designed by Minneapolis architect Harry Wild Jones. He's known for such local landmarks as the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel and the Washburn Water Tower, as well as residences of well-to-do businessmen.
"Many of the grand old homes in Minneapolis were razed," said Goodwin. "This one by Harry Wild Jones was preserved."
Inside, a handsome staircase greets visitors to the three-story home and its 5,000-plus square feet of space. "The beautiful mahogany wood staircase, built-in bookcases and functioning pocket doors make it truly a lovely home," said Goodwin. "The sun shines through the huge Palladian window trimmed in mahogany, and it's stunning."
Although the century-old home was in good condition overall, the couple put in new mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems. They also refinished the hardwood floors and remodeled three of the bathrooms.
"We made sure all the updates we did were consistent with the original beauty of the house," said Goodwin.
However, they didn't have to improve the luxurious master bedroom, which is appointed with two sitting areas, one next to a Carrara marble fireplace. They did put marble tile, heated floors and a shower in the master bathroom, but saved the clawfoot tub and stained-glass window that opens to let in breezes.
The most extensive project was gutting and redesigning the kitchen, which is now "the most modern room in the house," said Goodwin. "We added 80 square feet and reorganized the new kitchen inch-by-inch." Features include high-end appliances, wine cooler, instant hot-water dispenser and a spacious Brazilian granite center island.
"You can pull together an incredible meal and not interfere with guests," said Goodwin.
Over the past five years, Goodwin and Shaffer have raised their daughter, hosted exchange students, housed visiting law professors and thrown scores of pool parties and fundraisers.
"It's been a wonderful way to contribute by being able to open up your home," she said. "And it was fabulous having a pool here."
But with both their children away at college, Goodwin and Shaffer are hunting for a smaller residence in the south Minneapolis area they've grown to love since relocating from Chicago.
"Sometimes houses are like people," she said. "And it's great when you can build a wonderful relationship with your home. That's what we've been able to do."
• The 5,690-square-foot home built in 1900 has six bedrooms and six bathrooms.
• Original butler's pantry with mahogany floor-to-ceiling built-in storage.
• The mahogany paneled dining room was added later, in 1916, by original architect Harry Wild Jones.
• Elegant living room also doubles as a library with built-in bookcases and leaded-glass windows.
• The remodeled third floor includes a yoga studio and family room, as well as a bathroom and bedroom suite for guests.
• The Palladian window at the top of the staircase has two sides that can be opened. "It's a piece of architecture you don't commonly see," Goodwin said.
• The original carriage house had been converted into a 537-square-foot pool house, which today houses a kitchenette, steam shower and Shaffer's office. "He has an urban-chic man cave with French doors that look out over the back yard," said Goodwin .
• The finished lower level includes a laundry room, storage closet and a fitness room outfitted with mirrored walls.
• Location, location, location: The home is in the heart of the city, with nearby restaurants, art museums, Children's Theatre, Lake of the Isles and views of the downtown Minneapolis skyline from the top floor.
Fran and Barb Davis of Coldwell Banker Burnet have the listing, 612-925-8408.
Show us your house: To have a unique property considered for a Homegazing feature, please send digital photos and a description to email@example.com.