From the air, the French country-style house and grounds suggest a European estate where you might see dressage horses practicing their stylized steps. And for some years, Curt and Preditta Salmon did keep a few ponies, although not the show kind, on their 50-acre property 45 minutes northwest of downtown Minneapolis in the city of Nowthen.
Their horses were part of a domestic and wild menagerie that, even now, prompts a smile.
"What sets this place apart is all the wildlife and nature," Curt said. "You can build a house any place. But to get the land and the animals that come with this, that's rare."
Curt, an avid hunter, has taken pheasant, grouse, duck and deer in the fields and foliage just outside the home that they built in 1987. Don't tell his wife, but it sounds like all he wanted was an expensive deer stand.
Preditta, whose name is a variation of a lost child who's really a princess in Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale," found her joy in the wildflowers that crowd Ford Brook, which runs through their property.
"Lady's slippers, tamaracks, orchid, trillium, bloodroot all grow naturally here," she said.
Curt, a remodeling contractor, set out in 1987 to create a home melding their dreams and a few fancies. Preditta wanted something that had light and beauty but also a touch of fairy tales in which to raise her family. She had seen turrets on medieval castles and wondered if one of those could be incorporated. Why not, Curt thought.
For Curt, the must-haves included what we refer to today as a man cave — a retreat for drinks and stories where he can have a beer and she can have wine from their own small but expandable vineyard.
Ground was broken that May, construction started in July, and they were settling into the house as the house itself was settling that November. Ash floors were made from trees cut and milled from the yard. Fifteen years later, the family would do an addition, putting in a large closet and a greenhouse for cacti and jade and aloe vera.
"It turned into the perfect place to raise our family," Preditta said. "At our son's wedding, we comfortably had 225 people, plus staff."
That "perfect" place has three fireplaces — two wood and one gas — and four bedrooms complemented by four baths spread over 5,834 square feet. The owners' suite features his and hers walk-in closets.
The place was designed with entertainment in mind, including a wet bar and a 300-bottle wine room. The home also has Preditta's beloved library.
"I love to sit in there and read," Preditta said. "You can let your mind wander."
The main house comes with two out structures — a workshop and a barn that has been used to stable horses.
Outdoor spaces include a pond with water features, formal gardens, a pergola and a stone paver patio. The property is crisscrossed by 2 miles of trails and walkways.
"It's very private, and we value that," Curt said. Now they've decided to move to warmer climes and have put their dream castle on the market, listed at $1,949,900.
"It's a little like a fairy tale," Preditta said.
Andy Baker, 612-598-9823, Coldwell Banker Burnet, has the listing.