Parties have played a starring role in the history of the big house across from Kenwood Park near Lake of the Isles.
During Prohibition, a speakeasy was rumored to be operating on the lower level, said current owner Marissa Upin. “There was a ballroom and a bar — and a lot of wild parties.”
After Prohibition, the genteel gatherings at the brick-and-stucco house were chronicled in the society pages. Debutante Margaret Ann Cargill, daughter of Cargill’s longtime president Austen Cargill, made her debut there, at her family’s home, in 1940.
Upin and her husband, David, also like to throw big soirees. “We do a lot of entertaining,” said Marissa. “We’ve had 150 people for holiday parties.”
But family was top of mind when they bought the house in 2012. “We are a blended family,” with five children, said Marissa. The 8,179-square-foot house was well laid out, with large rooms and six bedrooms, including three on the third floor for their three boys, and three on the second for the couple and their two daughters. “Everybody had their space,” she said.
The house, designed by renowned architect William Kenyon in 1911, needed work. “But the bones are great,” said David.
The Upins’ interior designer, Liz Spindler of Spindler Inc., assured them that it could become their dream home. “It needed some updating and reconfiguring but I could see it was exactly what they were looking for,” Spindler said, with good flow and beautiful leaded-glass windows. “It’s more open and airy than a typical Tudor.”
The Upins spent six months giving the house a massive makeover. They updated the plumbing, the electrical system and put in a new furnace. They remodeled the kitchen, the eight bathrooms and the carriage house apartment, and converted the two-car detached garage into a three-car attached one. They added a mudroom, a sauna and an elevator that serves all four floors.
“We spent nearly as much on the remodeling as we did on the house,” said David.
The kitchen, which oddly had a pantry with a toilet in it when they bought the house, was gutted to the studs. It’s now a gleaming culinary shrine, with custom cabinets, quartz countertops, top-of-the-line appliances and an eye-catching backsplash that was showcased in a tile magazine.
Upstairs, the owners’ suite now has a huge walk-in closet, as well as a deluxe bathroom. “We turned it from what it was into the way everybody currently wants to live,” said Spindler.
The house has served the Upin family well, but they recently put it on the market for $2.279 million. “We love the space and the ability to have big groups,” said David. But their five children have grown and left home, and the couple has decided to downsize and move downtown.
Plus, now that the house has been completely redone, David is ready to tackle another project. “When there’s nothing left to do, I move on to something else,” he said.
Adam Fonda, 612-308-5008, Lakes Sotheby’s, has the listing.