Ken Abdo was 6 years old when his family moved to a big Spanish Mediterranean house on Minnehaha Parkway in 1962. Abdo found out he was sharing a bedroom with his brother — and Snoopy, too.
Cartoonist Charles Schulz, a previous owner, had painted watercolor murals of Snoopy and another character that resembled Charlie Brown on the bedroom walls. “They were happy, large and colorful,” recalled Abdo. “They were my guardians and gave me good memories.”
Schulz and his family didn’t live there very long — from 1955 to 1958 — before moving to California. The Twin Cities native was already famous, with his successful “Peanuts” comic strip being syndicated nationally.
Abdo, a Minneapolis attorney, grew to love the house and the Tangletown neighborhood. “It was a great place to grow up,” he said. “We fished for crappies and sunfish in the creek.”
As a teenager, he pasted the bedroom walls with movie star and rock posters, but he never covered up Snoopy and the Charlie Brown character, wearing a cowboy hat. “The hat has the name Monte — that was his [Schulz’s] oldest son’s name,” said Abdo.
When Abdo was in high school, he told his father he’d like to buy the house someday. Abdo moved out after he finished law school, married his wife, Karen, and started raising his own family. “Then one day my dad called and said he was going to sell the house,” said Abdo. “We sat down, had a martini and made a deal.”
So in 1992, Abdo returned to his childhood home — which still held Schulz’s valuable works of art.
That year, Schulz was in Minneapolis for the grand opening of the Mall of America’s Camp Snoopy, and he stopped by to see the old house. “My mom asked him to autograph the wall with the paintings,” said Abdo.
After moving in, Abdo immediately invested $250,000 in the aging home, which was built in 1925, to “regain its old glory,” he said. He put in new heating, plumbing and electrical, and reinforced the sagging structure. The Abdos tore down foil wallpaper, took out gold shag carpets, refinished hardwood floors, replaced windows and repaired and painted every surface. They also updated the 1970s kitchen, adding a tile floor and recessed lighting.
Over the past two decades, Abdo has made numerous other home improvements. He knocked down the wall between the “Snoopy” bedroom and the master bedroom, built an archway and turned it into a suite. He also converted the third-floor attic into a teenage retreat with two bedrooms and a bathroom.
Today the Abdos’ four children have moved out, and the couple have decided to sell the 4,500-square-foot, five-bedroom house, which will be on the market for the first time in 52 years. “Maybe we’ll live like college kids in a rental apartment or condo,” he said. “We’re selling everything in the house to start with a clean slate.” Everything but the “Peanuts” artwork.
Over the years, friends who were familiar with Abdo’s bedroom art have mused that the pictures of the famous characters must be worth a lot. Abdo recently found out how much — a New York auction company appraised the value of the cartoon art at $100,000.
Abdo is negotiating with the Schulz family to remove the walls and watercolor murals and ship them to be displayed in the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif.
“When I watched ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ in the 1960s, I remember thinking we lived in a special place,” he said. “My dad kept the paintings and history quiet. It was one of the little secrets of the house.”
Frank Roffers and Jacob Smith of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty have the listing, 612-867-5667.
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