When they were house-hunting in 2005, Shawn and Jeffrey Bouslog were enthralled by the architectural split-personality of a St. Paul home across the street from the Mississippi River.
The stucco-and-stone exterior was classic Tudor style, with steep gables and half-timber accents. But when they stepped inside, they were greeted by a multicolored slate floor and iron circular staircase, creating an aura of an Italian villa.
“It really wowed us,” recalled Shawn. “Jeff checked the mechanicals, and the kids were excited and running all over. He never asked me if I liked it — he just knew.”
The couple wanted to move from Lakeville to the city to be closer to their jobs. So they bought the 1920s Tudor on Mississippi River Boulevard for its charming architectural features, as well as the walking and bike trails just beyond the front door.
The well-maintained home had pretty much everything they wanted: a yard and a big terrace for Shawn’s gardens, a family room addition off the back and gracious entertaining spaces. A big bonus was a heated, two-car attached garage — a rare feature in an old house.
The Bouslogs discovered from the previous owner that the house even had a little history. An executive who worked for Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. had the home built in 1922. He was also an inventor, and the remnants of one of his creations is stored in the garage. Twelve brass bells, just like the ones used on the first telephones, are inside a cabinet. Each bell is labeled with a room number. “I’m not sure how they worked,” said Shawn. “But they were probably used to ring the occupants in each room.”
Other old-house quirks include a dark “secret room” behind a bookcase in the library. “We found a doll and a book in there,” she said.
After moving in, the couple did cosmetic modifications to update the home and make it more their style. Shawn painted the white walls and ceilings warmer tones to complement the unique pecan woodwork. “The white made the house feel cold, because it was so big,” she said.
The light-filled breakfast room, with arched built-in china cabinets and windows overlooking the gardens, has access to the back-yard stone terrace and alfresco dining.
During the summer, the Bouslogs also like to sip wine on the balcony above the front door, where they can view the sunset and the Minneapolis Rowing Club on the other side of the river.
The house holds many memories for the Bouslogs, including the sight of their daughter descending the grand circular staircase on her wedding day and the groom’s dinner, which they hosted in the terrazzo marble-floored formal dining room.
But the Bouslogs are now empty nesters and rarely use many of the rooms in the house. They also do the yard work themselves, and it’s been difficult to maintain both this house and their lake place.
The couple still want to gaze at the Mississippi River, but this time from inside a condo, possibly in the St. Anthony Main area.
“I will miss the gardens — my rhododendrons look awesome — and the privacy,” said Shawn. But since they have been spending more time at their cabin, “I can get my fix up there.”
• The 4,738-square-foot home includes four bedrooms and four bathrooms.
• Elegant scrolled-iron gate leads from the foyer to the formal dining room.
• The living room has hardwood floors and a wood-burning fireplace with a pecan and tile surround. French doors lead to a patio for entertaining.
• The large master suite boasts a sitting area in front of a wood-burning fireplace. A doorway opens to an all-season porch that once was the original sleeping porch.
• The kitchen was updated by previous owners, with Silestone countertops, Sub-Zero refrigerator, double ovens and a wet bar.
• The third floor holds a bedroom under a vaulted ceiling. “That was our son’s penthouse when he was in high school,” said Shawn.
• Original built-in bookcases and leaded-glass French doors are in the library.
• The finished basement features terrazzo marble floors, and family and fitness rooms.
• The home is on a double lot, offering a big back yard with a stone terrace, perennial gardens, shrubs and evergreens.
Brad Palecek of Edina Realty, has the listing, 612-839-6029, www.bradpalecek.com.
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