Queen Anne ‘theatrical’ home on Healy Block in Minneapolis on the market for $625,000

Theron Potter Healy, nicknamed “Queen Anne’s King”, built 140 houses in this style between 1886 and 1906.

His well-known works include the nationally designated Healy Block Historic District, 14 Queen Anne Houses in south Minneapolis that share a lane in the 3100 block of 2nd and 3rd Avenues. The houses, visible from I-35W near the 31st Street exit, have become well-known features on daily commutes.

When one of these homes on 3rd Avenue came up for sale a few years ago, an unexpected buyer appeared – Healy’s great-grandson, John Cunningham.

Originally, John and his wife, Sally Cunningham, hadn’t planned to make an offer. But when someone from the Healy Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Healy homes, approached John, an architect, they decided to at least take a look at the Queen Anne Victorian.

The hallmark features needed restoration.

“We decided to restore it and save it from someone who would come and break it in a rooming house or something,” said John, whose mother grew up in one of the houses in the neighborhood. historical.

In 2012, the couple bought the place, thinking they would update and sell it within two years.

“Here I’m a contemporary architect and I do that. But you look around at the stained glass and how it hits the light and then all the details of the woodwork,” John said. “All the facades are different. All the turrets are different. He was very imaginative in his choices. It’s infinitely interesting.”

Rich in history

The house, built in 1891, is called the Bennett-McBride House, after lumberjack Henry H. Bennett, who was the original owner, and the McBride family, the third owners, whose family members have resided there for over 60 years. . The family have been credited for caring for and preserving the house at a time when others in the area were being altered.

In 1967, the next group of owners – Ronald Domanski and Norm Lindberg – were also instrumental in maintaining the house as well as in its historic designation in 1977.

“They delighted in the whimsical, theatrical and dramatic details of Queen Anne’s architecture. So they fixed it and they were responsible for listing it on the National Register of Historic Places,” said Anders Christensen, chairman of the Healy project.

In addition to Queen Anne hallmarks such as cross gables, lattices, a mix of building materials and stained glass, Healy was known for putting his personal mark on things. This included arched Moorish stained glass windows set on a single pane as well as porches with turned columns and ornamental work under a cantilevered front gable, Christensen said.

Healy was a master builder, which meant at this time that he also built the houses he designed. His specialty early in his career was the Queen Anne homes in Lowry Hill and other areas south of Minneapolis.

“The master builders all had their particular ways of cladding a house with narrow or wide siding, shingles. Healy stands out for the complexity of the designs,” Christensen said. “He took a lot of classic historical elements and put them together in asymmetrical patterns that allow for an endless variety of decorations – arches, towers, bays. They’re very complex, but they work together balancing different features.”

Project preservation

While the previous owners had taken good care of the house, it needed updating and restoring, as aging homes do.

“Although it was some sort of wreck, we believed it was salvageable as it was intact in some respects,” said John, who founded the architectural firm Cunningham Group. “The core of the house was there.”

On the one hand, 2 ¼ inch thick wooden sliding doors had been retained. The same was true for the original hardwood floors, other trim and trim. Maple and oak mostly flowed while chestnut and cherry accented the spaces. Nine stained glass windows as well as towering 9-10 foot ceilings also made for a grand home.

The house’s bones were also strong, including double-paned walls with two layers of plaster to keep the house warm – and to this day keep heating bills low for a house of this size, said John.

The couple immediately got down to repairing the roof, re-insulating the walls and filling in the plaster on the ceilings. Central air conditioning has been added.

“Every ceiling hung like a hammock,” he said of the cracks and sagging.

Highlights of the project include that of the porch, which got an updated solid foundation. A neighbor who knew how to restore homes from that era helped make things like scuffed railings look like new.

“It’s a miracle that he was a carpenter who was my neighbor and lived in a Healy house and fixed it too. So he knew what to do,” he said .

The kitchen has also been modernized. With the blessing of the historical group, the kitchen was demolished down to the half-timbering. A wall was removed to open up the kitchen and convert an adjacent office into a family room. An old fireplace chimney has been removed.

Before, there were no upper kitchen cabinets. So the Cunninghams installed new custom oak cabinets that included glass doors, a nod to tradition. Updated appliances, along with maple block and Vermont green marble countertops, were installed. Adding a kitchen island and adding original period hardware to the house completed the look.

“Everyone thinks the kitchen was originally like this, which is a huge compliment,” John said.

In the master bedroom, an adjoining bathroom has been added. This, as well as another bathroom on the second level, had a marble backsplash and floor.

The Cunninghams also restored the barn, which Christensen says is one of three remaining on the Healy Block. A new foundation was built and new milled cladding installed while historic features, such as two horse stalls, remain.

full circle

Amid the renovation, the Cunninghams decided to move their digs from Tangletown, the south Minneapolis home they had lived in for more than 46 years, to the house built by John’s great-grandfather.

“I had intended to do some repairs and sell it, but over the two years it took to fix the house, my wife and I decided we wanted to live there,” he said. -he declares. “We fell in love with it.”

They enjoyed living in the house, appreciating the way it was built. The walls and doors are so thick that “it’s very quiet,” Sally said. Sliding doors have been great for opening or closing a room, especially during the pandemic when someone needed to be on a Zoom call.

They also liked the number of meeting places, from a living room that leads to a fireplace room that leads to a formal dining room on one side, to a kitchen with dining area and a family room on the other.

The Cunninghams’ loving restoration of the home has paid off beyond the ability to live in and enjoy it. Their efforts have been recognized by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and Preserve Minneapolis.

Now, after nine years, the Cunninghams have decided it’s time to downsize. They listed the three-story, five-bedroom, three-bathroom home covering 3,375 square feet.

“We’re moving downtown to a very contemporary place with floor-to-ceiling glass,” John said. “It’s a lot of house.”

Listing agent Martha Hoover said the house is unique in its craftsmanship, family ties and attention to detail in the restoration. “The other unusual feature is the garage with a stable and an upper loft in Minneapolis,” she added.

Sally Cunningham said the house has potential for expansion.

The second floor of the barn could be converted into an ADU or an apartment. And in the attic of the house, which houses a bedroom and a billiard room, they installed the plumbing if anyone wanted to add a bathroom.

But if the new owners just want to move in and enjoy, they can do that too.

Major projects, in compliance with historic preservation standards, have been carried out.

And although this is a historic home, it should suit potential owners with varying tastes. Ask the Cunninghams, whose decor and furniture style is contemporary.

“One of the things we were so pleased with was that you’d think it would be confining to live in a period house,” John said. “What we’ve found is that it’s very forgiving.”

Martha Hoover ([email protected]; 612-382-8051) of RE/MAX Preferred has the $625,000 SEO.

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