Steven Hustad was only 3 years old at the time, but he can still remember details of the five-day photo shoot of his family’s home for Life magazine in the summer of 1958.
“The photographer, Gordon Parks, was stuffing towels under the bathroom door so he could develop film,” he recalled. Steven’s mother, Jeanne Hustad, told him to pick up his toys before Parks started shooting. “I forgot,” he confessed, “and they ended up in some of the photos.”
Steven’s architect father, Donald Hustad, had designed and built the 1958 stucco multi-level for his family in Minnetonka (the area was part of Wayzata back then) for $34,000.
The magazine spread described the innovative dwelling as “a clever blend of practical design and rich imagination.” It was one of six modern houses in different cities showcased in an article about livability.
The Hustad home’s striking exterior features a roof composed of six barrel vaults defined by curved archways and glass. “My dad designed the unusual roof construction so the barrel vaults were the main visual feature,” said Steven. Visitors walk from the driveway and across a short bridge to get to the front entry.
Inside, the home is divided into three split levels — the bedrooms on top, living room in the middle by the front door, and the family room, dining room and kitchen on the bottom. Donald came up with that floor plan so the dwelling would sit comfortably on the steep-sloped wooded site.
Modern open-tread staircases create a visual connection between the levels. And the living room’s expansive wall of glass faces wetlands. In the family room, Donald cut out an open counter to the kitchen where the kids could eat; that also doubles as a bar for adult parties, a popular feature in many homes today.
“Modernist architecture was his forte,” said Steven, who, like his father, graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Architecture and now works for U.S. Postal Service Facilities. “The home inspired me to follow in his footsteps.”
When they lived there as kids, Steven and his sister, Tracy, would climb on the outside iron balconies between their bedrooms, and run around the airy and open levels.
As a teenager, “I was annoyed because I couldn’t sleep in on Saturday mornings because the sun would blast through the arched windows,” recalled Steven. “I had to put cardboard across.”
Steven eventually realized he lived in a one-of-a-kind house — at least for the western suburbs. “My friends would always tell me it was a neat house,” he said. “It was so open compared to their closed-off colonials.”
And there was no doubt it was unique when tour buses would slowly drive down the street after the Life magazine accolades, “which upset my mother,” he said.
Jeanne Hustad died in 1995, and Donald Hustad lived in the home until he moved to an assisted-living residence last spring.
The 2,200-square-foot house remains a 1950s time capsule with few modifications over the years. Donald added a garage, which echoes the style of the home, and replaced the foyer’s cork floor with slate. And since there was only one bathroom on the bedroom level, Donald had a vanity and sink installed inside Tracy and Steven’s rooms.
“He did minimal changes,” said Steven. “He was satisfied with the way it was.”
Donald agreed. “Every space has its own use,” he said. “The way it was built really shows its strength.”
However, after more than five decades, the house required some major work, such as roof and structural repairs and a rebuilt bridge, which replicates the original. Now that the home is on the market, Steven noted that a buyer may want to overhaul it to make it relevant for today.
“But midcentury modern design is so popular. People who are attracted to that kind of house are more inclined to preserve and maintain it,” he said.
Brad Palecek of Edina Realty has the listing, www.bradpalecek.com, 612-839-6029.