Sometimes the person behind a house is more interesting than the house itself. Not so in this case - here's the total package.

This two-room retreat is about 25 minutes from downtown St. Paul in Denmark Township. It's a modest little getaway and needs a bit of updating, but it makes a big architectural statement on a secluded lot with views of the St. Croix River Valley.

What was more interesting to JustListed is that it was designed and built in 1960 by Val Michelson, a Twin Cities-based architect who lived an incredible life and had many international connections. Michelson was born in the Soviet Union and when a young man was captured by the Germans, then escaped and walked across much of Europe mistakenly thinking that his wife and son were dead. Michelson remarried a woman he met in a displaced persons camp, moved to the U.S. and eventually became a professor at School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota. He designed dozens of buildings, including a collaboration with internationally known, Marcel Breuer, on the abbey at St. John's University. He also designed the St. Paul Priory in Maplewood. Eventually, in the twilight of his life, Michelson was reuinted with that long-lost son who made his way to the U.S. after dissolution of the Soviet Union. Michelson died at age 90 in 2006.

Dave Wickiser, broker with New City Real Estate, told JustListed  that Michelson designed this small cabin as a retreat. It was a refuge from life in the city, and he often brought students for weekend visits. Getting to the property wasn't easy. The driveway is along an unmarked easement over another property, which meant that you had to be invited to visit. Wickiser calls it a "lion, the witch and the wardrobe escape," likening entering the retreatment to the experience of disappearing into a wardrobe that transports you to another world. "It's a world with no mail man and no solicitors," Wickiser said.

The 7-acre property and 610 square-foot cabin are listed at $199,990. Wickiser is at 651-224-8900. 





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