In 1922, people lined up to marvel at the first home in Minneapolis that was completely wired for electricity.
Starting Friday, the public is once again invited inside the Uptown colonial, this time to see a well-designed, multistory addition by Awad+Koontz Architects Builders.
"The showcase home has come full circle," said owner Leslie Jablonski. "We want to share its story and show people what we've done."
A yellowed copy of an old Minneapolis Journal article with the headline "It's a Perfect Day at Modern Electrical Home" is displayed in Mike and Leslie Jablonski's home. It was built in 1919 as a model to demonstrate the possibilities of electricity.
The article describes the "Magic Kitchen" and how "women looked longingly at the soft glow of 16 shaded lights in the living room of the modern electrical home."
When the Jablonskis bought the house in 1994, the kitchen was no longer magical. It was outdated, cramped and had little counter space.
"We had to cool cookies outdoors and the squirrels would steal them," Leslie said. Last winter, the couple restored the "magic" by building a new kitchen with a prep sink and carrara marble center island, as well as a master suite and a home office for Leslie, a public relations consultant.
Mike and Leslie bought the stucco home in part because of its vibrant Uptown neighborhood and one-of-a kind character. They were charmed by the original black wall phones and doorbell boxes on each floor, which were "modern" gadgets to show off the home's electrical features.
"We also loved the four tall French doors in the front," Leslie said, and the ironwork gracing the doors, which gives the home a Mediterranean flavor.
But the home began to feel smaller as their family grew. They had two sports-loving boys with lots of hockey gear and no place to stash it. So the Jablonskis started house hunting.
"When we looked at homes for sale, it was a real eye-opener, because we realized that we loved what we had," said Leslie. "We were happy to come back home."
Leslie and Mike toured Remodelers Showcase homes last year and were impressed by the way partners Ali Awad and Jim Koontz blended new home design elements with the old. The family decided to stay put and remodel.
"We had a vision of what we wanted the house to be," said Mike. "We didn't want the two centuries colliding."
Their original plan was to add space for a bigger kitchen and powder room, but that evolved into a 1,100-square-foot, three-level addition to the back of the house, where there had been a tuck-under garage.
"We decided to just go for it," said Leslie. "We only wanted to do this once, so we wanted to do it right."
On the main floor, Awad and Koontz designed a new back entry with a mudroom, as well as a new bathroom and butler's pantry off a clean-lined multifunctional kitchen with a reading nook. Now Leslie has the prep space to make a favorite dish -- butternut squash risotto.
"In the 21st century people are moving out of the living room and into the kitchen," said Mike. "We can cook, work on a laptop and the kids can do their homework."
Upstairs the Jablonskis' master wing rivals what you'd typically find in a new suburban home. The bathroom boasts his-and-her pedestal sinks and medicine cabinets, a heated floor and huge walk-in closet. "Mike no longer has to store his clothes in a dresser in the guest bedroom," Leslie said. A bonus is a bedroom view of the downtown Minneapolis skyline -- at least when the trees are bare.
In the basement level, they converted the tuck-under garage to a home office and a sports equipment room, well ventilated for smelly hockey bags. There's also space for a future "man cave."
The Jablonskis made it a priority that the multilevel remodeling also be eco-friendly. Awad and Koontz integrated spray foam insulation, an energy-efficient furnace and water heater, low-flow faucets and even a thermo-mass foundation.
And Mike and Leslie made sure the renovation preserved the home's historical novelties such as the wall telephones on each floor. Awad and Koontz also replicated period details, including the millwork, double-hung windows and light fixtures, in the new spaces.
"It's a gracious center-hall colonial," said Awad. "We wanted to expand the house but still be respectful of its character."
A major home renovation is never easy for homeowners. For six months, the Jablonskis didn't have a kitchen and lived with workers starting construction at 7 a.m. each day.
"I felt like I had to look like June Cleaver in the morning," said Leslie. "But after a while, they saw me in my pajamas."
Still, the couple agree that the end result was worth it.
"The home is so comfortable and I'm more relaxed," said Leslie. "The boys love it because I don't go crazy when they bring their friends over for pizza."
Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619