Perched on a limestone ledge above the St. Croix, the Bluff House may have the best river view in Stillwater.
With walls of glass facing the river, the home captures vistas of the Lift Bridge and the charming downtown in one direction and the new St. Croix Crossing bridge in the other.
"Both bridges are lit at night," said longtime homeowner Joel Moline. "It's just beautiful night and day."
The house is mere steps to downtown Stillwater via the nearby historic staircase that connects the bluff and Main Street. Yet the home's large wooded lot is private and parklike. "You feel like you're in the middle of nowhere," said Moline.
The original owners of the Bluff House hired Stillwater architect Mike McGuire to design a Prairie School house, the architectural style pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright, with strong horizontal lines and deep roof overhangs.
McGuire is believed to have studied at Wright's studio, and other McGuire-designed homes in the area also reflect some of Wright's influence, said real estate agent Mike Lynch, Lakes Sotheby's.
But McGuire was no copycat.
"It's Frank Lloyd McGuire," said Lynch of the local architect's signature aesthetic. "He has his own flair, too."
Built in 1982, the 1,920-square-foot home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Its interior features vaulted ceilings with beams of Douglas fir, abundant built-ins and multiple wood species, including redwood, cedar and red oak.
"Everything was custom made," said Moline, including distinctive light fixtures. "There are a lot of interesting shapes. It's a one-of-a-kind piece of original art."
Moline bought the place in 1993. He was living in a downtown Minneapolis condo and docking his boat on Lake Minnetonka. He wanted to live on the lake and looked in vain for the right house. Then a year of low water levels on Minnetonka prompted him and other boat owners to relocate their boats to the St. Croix, where Moline fell in love with the river.
"I told my agent, 'Forget Lake Minnetonka — let's find a house on the river.' I saw this house, tucked away, and said, 'This is the one.' I knew I would buy it before I went in the front door."
A wine connoisseur, Moline converted an underground storage area into a wine cellar. Accessible via a trap door in the laundry room, the cellar can hold approximately 1,000 bottles. Moline designed it, built it with help from a carpenter friend and hired an artist to paint it to resemble an old European cellar.
He also enhanced his home's parklike setting. The original owners were gardeners. "I got to know the couple and felt an obligation to maintain their gardens," he said. Then he started adding to them, planting daffodils, tulips, dahlias and perennials.
"There are lots of flowers and things blooming at different times," he said. "To reduce maintenance I put in a sprinkler system."
He created a trail through the woods, and planted more than 100 pine trees, now 30 to 40 feet tall. He also built a flagstone firepit, and added outdoor lighting.
Moline has made updates to the home, as well, such as replacing the windows, updating the heating system and refinishing the hardwood floors. But he hasn't changed the home's original character. "He has maintained it to McGuire's original specifications," Lynch said.
With two decks, a wraparound deck off the living room and a private deck off the owner's bedroom, the home makes the most of its coveted St. Croix setting.
"Sales on the St. Croix have almost doubled since 2020," Lynch said. Post-pandemic, he said, work routines will be different, with less work-related travel and fewer hours spent at the office. "It opens up a whole new world. It could be a home or a vacation property."
Moline is selling his house because he recently moved to a log home on a lake. "I've always wanted a log home," he said. "I really like unique homes."
He misses his Stillwater house, especially seeing the river and watching the sunrise with his morning coffee. "I've loved living there. It's so quiet and peaceful. You can really recharge your batteries. You don't see anybody, just lots of wildlife."
Mike Lynch, 612-619-8227, and John Wanninger, Lakes Sotheby's, have the $1.295 million listing.