Tales from Summit Avenue
- November 9, 2013 - 2:00 PM
F. Scott Fitzgerald slept here:
Summit Terrace, an 1889 Romanesque Revival brownstone rowhouse, is known as the F. Scott Fitzgerald House. That’s because in 1919, the 23-year-old Fitzgerald holed up in a third-floor bedroom of his parents’ rented unit while rewriting “This Side of Paradise.” The writing room still has the “speaking tube” that he used to call down to his mother for provisions, said photographer Karen Melvin. “He was ecstatic when the book got published because then he could ask Zelda for her hand in marriage.”
The Craftsman-style house originally built for Charles and Jennie Johnston in 1910 sat empty for more than a decade until Lori and Matt Kustritz rescued it. A story passed down was that Charles died there from a heart attack. “After we closed, Matt walked in the front door and turned around and walked out. The house had a strange feeling,” said Lori. The “presence” has dissipated over the years as Mr. Johnston must be happy with the care and attention they have given the house, said Lori.
Carlos Boynton, who built a Clarence Johnston-designed mansion for $26,000 in 1904, was a real estate titan who loved harness racing and did everything in a big way, such as paneling the stable in mahogany, said Nelson. “I asked the owner, Shari Wilsey, how she grows such beautiful flowers,” said Nelson. “She grinned and said, ‘With a gift from Carlos Boynton — good horse manure.’ ”
The Diedrik Omeyer House, a colorful 1880s Queen Anne that was formerly a roominghouse, was lovingly restored by the current owner, “who told me that every time he goes upstairs past the stained-glass windows, he feels like he’s back in Catholic school,” said Melvin.
Karen and Arnold Kustritz often stage concerts by local baroque groups in the solarium of their 1909 Tudor Villa Revival, which was restored by their son Matt Kustritz. “We take out the furniture and raise the chandelier,” said Karen. “It feels like a scene from ‘Downton Abbey.’ ”
Garrison Keillor and his wife, Jenny Nilsson, have lived in the Lindsay-Weyerhaeuser House since 2008. “Descendants of F.K. Weyerhaeuser have visited, one to rescue the gravestone of a dog buried in the yard,” said Keillor. “We’ve held numerous political fundraisers in it and so it has heard some oratory that perhaps F.K. wouldn’t have agreed with.”
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