When Dave and Becky Lime purchased a 2.5-acre lot on Linwood Lake near Wyoming, Minn., during the mid-'80s, they decided to take on an ambitious project: building a timber frame home.
Timber framing is a centuries-old practice of using wooden pegs to join beams and interlock pieces to build the skeleton of a home. Popular in the United States from the early 1600s to the mid-1800s, it grew increasingly rare as modern post-and-beam construction, which relied on metal fasteners, became the norm.
But that didn't intimidate the Limes.
Dave, the son of a shop teacher, grew up near Ohio's Amish country, where he saw firsthand how solidly built and long-lasting timber frame homes were. He also liked that such houses were energy-efficient.
"I've always had an appreciation for craftsmanship, for the land and natural settings," said Dave, who worked for the U.S. Forest Service and taught forestry at the University of Minnesota's College of Natural Resources.
But because timber framing takes a special skill, the couple had to search for months before finding a builder. By word of mouth, the Limes found Philip Bjork of Great Northern Woodworks of Cambridge, Minn., who was passionate about reviving what was becoming a lost art.
"There are timber frame homes in Minnesota, but at the time in Minnesota in 1985, there weren't many companies that built them," Dave said.
Bjork was "just starting in the business building timber frames the old-fashioned way in Minnesota," Dave said. "Ours was the first he built for a client. He had built one for himself and a friend before this."
Dave handled the lion's share of the design.
"I made a cardboard model out of it and met Bjork at a restaurant and took this model out of a paper bag and said, 'Here, can you build this?' Interestingly, it didn't end up far out from that model."
The unique home was featured in a 1985 Star Tribune story, which lauded the "low-tech, high-skill" craftsmanship.
For six months, Bjork hand-carved every 9-inch peg and 8-inch square tenon. The pieces were later used to interlock thick white oak logs that Bjork had shaped, sanded, stained and transported to the property.
And then: "Bjork calmly, steadily fit together the square timbers of the skeleton of David and Becky Lime's new house," read the article. "Six hours later the bents were in place, as were many of the connecting cross timbers. … The honey-colored timber frame was standing, with the aid of nary a nail."
After the framing went up, Dave did the electrical work. Wallboard and foam insulation were put in. Cherry wood from a tree cut on the property was used for the floor and cabinets. The Limes had a massive Rumford fireplace built, using Chicago brick sourced out of Princeton, Minn.
Because timber frames were also load-bearing wooden structures, Dave strategically designed the home with an open octagon center and a towering, vaulted ceiling. Those moves maximized space and invited more natural light into the home.
"Every detail is unique," Dave said, about the house that took more than two years to design and build.
Now, after having enjoyed their lake place for 37 years, the Limes are ready to downsize. So they've listed the 3,500-plus-square-foot, three-bedroom, three-bathroom place for $850,000.
"We're getting to the point that with 189 feet of shoreline and this big house, the maintenance that comes with it is getting too much for us," Dave said.
While the house has a timeless nature, he said, it's poised for modern living for the next set of homeowners.
All the bedrooms have walk-in closets. The home comes with an office, a lower-level walkout leading to a recreation room and sauna and a three-season porch, as well as a deck overlooking the lake. In addition, the property has a three-car attached garage as well as a detached garage with a second-floor bonus area.
Listing agent Greg Shaleen said the sprawling property on a heavily wooded lot on a lake makes it ideal for rest and relaxation. And, of course, a timber frame house isn't something one comes across every day.
Dave said he's lucky that he was able to live in such a house to see timber frame live up to its reputation of being high-quality, low-maintenance and energy-efficient. He also enjoyed that he could take in the beauty of the details on a daily basis — especially when looking up at the towering, exposed timber ceilings.
"It's not a stick-built house. It's a very different construction and certainly a different look," Dave said. "I hate to leave, but we've had the pleasure of living here for 30-something years, so I can't complain. Time marches on."
Greg Shaleen (GregShaleen@edinarealty.com; 651-329-5495) of the Shaleen Team, a division of Edina Realty, has the $850,000 listing.