Ed and Sherry Hall had no intention of staying in Duluth when they moved there from Washington, D.C., to care for Sherry’s ailing mother.
“We thought it would be a couple of months,” said Ed Hall, who had recently retired as staff director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
But the Halls became enchanted with their temporary home and decided to make it permanent.
“We fell in love with Duluth,” said Ed. “We came in a snowstorm. It was so beautiful.” They soon came to appreciate Duluth’s lively arts scene and civic culture. “What a unique, eclectic city! It’s a wonderful place to live.”
A friend introduced them to a prominent resident, David Salmela. Salmela, who is arguably Minnesota’s most celebrated living architect, has won dozens of local and national awards for projects ranging from the Jackson Meadows development in Marine on St. Croix to Izzy’s Ice Cream headquarters in downtown Minneapolis.
Salmela’s Midwestern take on modernism is internationally renowned. “When I say I’m from Minnesota, people ask, ‘Can you tell me about David Salmela?’ ’’ said Thomas Fisher, dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, in 2011 while discussing Salmela’s work, the subject of two books written by Fisher.
The Halls, who also had seen and admired Salmela’s work, were looking for a home when the house next door to Salmela’s came up for sale.
The available house was very old, built in the 1890s, but it had a spectacular site, a double lot on a boulder-strewn hillside overlooking the Duluth Harbor and Aerial Lift Bridge.
“We bought it thinking we’d work with David to renovate it,” said Ed. But the necessary improvements would be so costly that the Halls decided to take down the old house and build a new one on its taconite rock foundation.
“It was fascinating,” said Ed of the design process, which took a year, followed by another year to build the house. “We spent many hours just talking.”
The result was a one-story Scandinavian-inspired house on the old foundation, plus an addition, set on masonry piers, to “float” above the ground.
The 2,424-square-foot, three-bedroom house has an open floor plan and huge double-hung windows that make the most of the view. “You can see right into the harbor,” said Ed. “The sense of light and space makes you feel good all day long.”
The home stays cozy in winter, thanks to slate floors with in-floor radiant heat.
Outside, the exterior is low-maintenance, with Richlite siding and a state-of-the-art membrane roof system.
Salmela also designed various spaces for outdoor living, including a bluestone terrace, a taconite retaining wall, cedar decking, elevated walkways and pergolas, accented by native grass plantings.
The distinctive home, completed in 2011, has won architectural awards, been showcased in magazines and still attracts admirers. “People come up to see the house,” said Ed.
The Halls have loved living there. The view never gets old. “You don’t get bored looking out the window here,” Ed said. “It’s a perfect place to watch the tall ships.”
They also have a perfect vantage point for taking in fireworks displays and events at Bayfront Festival Park.
“I love sitting outside in summer,” said Ed. “If the wind is right, you can hear music from the festival and you don’t have to buy a ticket.”
They’ve put the house on the market because they’ve decided it’s time to downsize, but they won’t be moving far, said Ed. “We’re going to stay in Duluth, probably a condo downtown.”
Frank Messina of Real Living Messina & Associates has the listing, 1-218-349-2140.