Around the time he was designing the Minnesota State Capitol, the Endicott Buildings and the original Town & Country Club building in St. Paul, famed architect Cass Gilbert was also drawing up grand homes.
One of those homes, a red brick Georgian Revival on Farrington Street in St. Paul's Ramsey Hill neighborhood, is on the market.
The 1895 home near Cathedral Hill features five bedrooms and 3 ½ baths and spans more than 6,000 square feet. The property also comes with a 700-square-foot carriage house that functions as an apartment/office.
Listing agent Steve Commers said the property is spacious inside and out. "It's a double lot, and that's a real plus to have a larger yard like this in St. Paul," he said.
When homeowners Nicole and Mike Tietel purchased the property in 2008, they knew they wanted to maintain historic touches while updating the space.
"We love history. Owning a house like this is something we had always wanted to do," Nicole said. "We've raised two kids here. We wanted to make it a home for a family today, but always wanted to stay true to its roots."
Past and present
The couple refinished the flooring, installed new electrical work and plumbing and gave the interior a coat of fresh paint.
"We painted every square inch of this place pretty much from top to bottom," Nicole said.
Some rooms received major renovations, including the 2,000-square-foot unfinished attic that was transformed into a family room with a bar and entertainment area. The kitchen was gutted and rebuilt with new cabinets, marble countertops, top-end appliances and radiant in-floor heating. One of the smaller bedrooms was sacrificed to create an en suite for the owners' bedroom.
"Updating the place has certainly been a massive undertaking," Nicole said.
But while the home has had modern upgrades, historical architectural touches remain.
Gilbert was known for creating rooms with curved walls and windows for better sound. The Farrington Street home is no exception, with the dining room and the parlor/music room featuring rounded walls and windows.
"The acoustics are really interesting since the walls aren't flat," Nicole said. "The sound bounces off the walls nicely."
Other Gilbert touches include leaded glass dotted throughout and a pedestal sink, with the faucet off to the side, in the main floor bathroom.
The original hardwood floors — white oak in the entertaining areas and fir in the bedrooms — have been preserved. As have the original front and back doors, both of which are intricately carved, have leaded glass and weigh more than 400 pounds.
"We tried to keep everything that we could," said Nicole. "The doors have some incredibly detailed woodwork. None of that had been touched for probably 40, 50 years."
The doors needed painting, but no contractors wanted to take on the work.
"We would have painters come bid on it. And they just shook their heads and said, 'I can't charge you enough hours for all of this work.' So we had to do it ourselves," she said. "It became a labor of love on Mike's part."
Etched in history
The Tietels take it to heart that they own a historically and architecturally significant home. They're members of the Cass Gilbert Society, and they've opened their home to 600 people as part of the Ramsey Hill House Tour. They also documented their yearslong historical preservation and renovation journey in the blog fixfarrington.blogspot.com.
Nicole points out that a room in the carriage house was rumored to be a speakeasy in the Prohibition days. It's one of the many stories they enjoy sharing about the gilded past of the home built for Emerson Hadley, a prominent lawyer.
When the home was built, the entire kitchen was not all on the first floor as it is today. Rather, it was segmented with the cooking kitchen located in the basement while the butler's pantry and prep area were on the first floor, as was common then.
Now that their kids are in college, the Tietels say it's time to move on and for someone else to pass along those stories.
"We've decided to downsize," said Nicole. "It's hard. We've loved this place. We saw ourselves as stewards of this house. Now we're passing it on to the next stewards."
Steve Commers (SteveCommers@edinarealty.com; 651-491-1073) of Edina Realty has the $1.35 million listing.