When Brad Neary and his wife moved to Minnesota 10 years ago, they were looking for a distinctive vintage home.
“We’re old-house people,” Neary said. “We had a French Normandy-style house out east, and we were looking for that kind of character and charm.”
So they started their search in the historic neighborhoods of St. Paul. But Neary, while browsing online, stumbled onto some photos of a brick house for sale in Minnetonka. “We hadn’t looked this far west,” he said. He decided he wanted to see the intriguing house and arranged a showing.
The house, set on 2.2 acres overlooking a pond, didn’t disappoint him. “You see the horse stable first,” he said. “Then the English Country cottage. It looked like a storybook.”
Neary bought the home, which has a name, Tall Pines, as well as an equine pedigree. It was built in 1925 for Tom Foley, a political cartoonist for the Minneapolis Star who also bred horses. The property, originally a 50-acre estate with pastures and an orchard, included a 4,000-square-foot, two-story barn.
The Nearys didn’t use the barn for horses — they let their friends store boats and cars in it — but it remains picturesque, clad in stucco and cedar shakes to match the house.
“It looks like the barn in ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ ” said listing agent Patti Oakes of Coldwell Banker Burnet. “I would have a wedding reception there.”
The 3,800-square-foot house also has retained its original, cozy charm.
“What is unique is that it looks like a one-story in front, but in back, it’s a two-story walkout,” Oakes said.
Inside, the large barrel-vaulted living room still has its original fireplace, wrought-iron gate and a large handpainted fresco by Foley, which depicts a fantasy medieval court scene with ladies-in-waiting, knights, horses and dogs. “People think it’s a tapestry,” Neary said. Another Foley-painted fresco, of horses, survives on the exterior of the stable.
The home has an unusual floor plan. Most of the bedrooms, including a late-1980s master-suite addition, are on the main level.
Downstairs, on the walkout lower level, are the primary living spaces, including a family room with a slate floor, beamed ceiling, built-in bookshelves and a raised stone fireplace, plus the kitchen, dining room and pantry. There’s also a fourth bedroom, for guests.
Nearly every room has a view of the pond, Oakes said, and the property attracts abundant wildlife, including ducks, geese, fox, birds and deer. “We use the pond,” Neary said. “We go skating in the winter and kayaking in summer.”
Neary, whose family is moving to another state, said he’ll miss his home’s “welcoming spirit. Leaving it behind is going to be difficult,” he said. “It’s a very peaceful spot, and the house kind of wraps its arms around you. We’ve loved it. Now it’s somebody else’s turn.”
Patti Oakes of Coldwell Banker Burnet has the listing, 612-309-7876, email@example.com. (Editor’s note: a purchase agreement is now pending on this property.)