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Condo in historic Minneapolis mansion shares designer with Glensheen

November 16, 2018

Glensheens beloved Breakfast Room is a fan favorite among visitors to the stately Congdon mansion in Duluth.

The irresistible rooms green-stained woodwork, Rookwood-tiled walls and stained-glass windows overlooking Lake Superior were the creation of interior designer John Bradstreet, who popularized Craftsman style in Minnesota more than a century ago, after decades of ornate Victorian decor.

Not long after he designed the Breakfast Room for the Congdons, Bradstreet started working on another mansion, this one in Minneapolis, for George F. Thompson, owner of a lumber company.

At 10,000 square feet, Thompsons new home was much smaller than the 27,000-square-foot Glensheen, but still grand, with abundant woodwork, from built-ins to ceiling beams to paneled walls.

As a lumber baron, He [Thompson] was able to supply the designers lavishly with wood, all old-growth, said Leone Medin, who lives in a condo in the former mansion. Its amazingly hard. We have prized it.

Medin and her husband, Vincent Graziano, bought the condo 24 years ago, soon after it was converted from a huge single-family house into three separate dwelling units. They recently put their 3,180-square-foot home on the market for $875,000.

The couple first fell in love with the original 1909 features in their main-floor unit, which include four fireplaces, massively thick doors and ornamental windows.

We loved the traditional look and all the design details that cant be found anymore, Medin said.

In their wood-paneled den, for example, Bradstreet employed the same wood-finishing technique, Jin-di-sugi, used in the Congdons Breakfast Room. In traditional Japanese Jin-di-sugi, cypress is water-soaked for hundreds of years, then scraped, creating raised lines in the woods grain. Bradstreet created a faster method, charring the wood, then scrubbing it to create a lustrous finish.

In both Glensheen and the Thompson home, Bradstreet blended Japanese, Moorish and Arts Crafts elements to create his signature aesthetic.

He was an amazing fellow who brought a whole new look to design, said Medin. He did a lot of Glensheen, and when we visited there, we could see the same touches.

The couples condo, which covers the main floor and lower level of the mansion, includes two bedrooms, plus space for two additional bedrooms, four baths, two heated garage stalls and an original 31-foot-long art gallery between the kitchen and living room.

When I first saw it, I thought, Wasted space,andthinsp; said Medin. How wrong I was. Its almost like a baffle for noise. You can sit in the living room and not hear someone banging pans in the kitchen. Its a quiet, comfortable house, with wonderful quality construction.

The kitchen has cherrywood cabinets, granite countertops and heated tile floors. It was originally the conservatory, so it has lots of windows, lots of light and overlooks the garden, said listing agent Michael Olafson, Lakes Area Realty.

The home, designed by architect William Kenyon, also has a distinctive exterior, clad in brick and stucco with half-timbered detailing, and a tile roof, plus a Japanese-inspired front gate, believed to be the work of Bradstreet. Its very unusual. We call it the shinto gate, said Medin.

The mansion sits on a large corner lot with professionally tended gardens that have been the setting for two weddings and numerous parties. Its like we live in a park, said Medin.

Many of Lowry Hills big mansions have been converted into condos, but this conversion is exceptionally well done, said Olafson. Architect Robert Furno, now working in Connecticut, oversaw the project. He took great care transforming it. And Bradstreets original design features remain in pristine condition. The Arts Crafts elements are beautifully intact and well cared for.

Homeowner association fees are $800 per month.

Michael Olafson, 612-229-5910, and Gary Bennett of Lakes Area Realty have the listing. (There will be an open house 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 18, 1802 Girard Av. S., Minneapolis.)

Kim Palmer 612-673-4784

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