How homeowners address the legacy of their architect-designed mid-century homes in the Twin Cities is a recurring thread in the extensive lineup Docomomo US/MN has planned for the 2019 Tour Day on Saturday, Oct. 12. The annual tour, a highlight of the fall season for enthusiasts of mid-century modern design, is positioned to surpass previous outings this year with a panoply of home styles capped by an afternoon of mindful, eye-popping renovations.
The famed University Grove neighborhood in St. Paul is the tour’s focus during the morning, with multiple stops that include the 1968 Ralph Rapson-designed home. In Prospect Park, a duplex designed by Lisl Close has been remodeled by Close Architects to honor the mid-century aesthetic while providing the owners with contemporary living spaces and views. Many of the ideas for their model came from prior Docomomo US/MN house tours they attended.
Along West River Road in Minneapolis is the Star House designed by Arthur Dickey, a 1973 home designed in the shape of the six-pointed Star of David. Airy and light-filled, the home has only a few artful retouches, and it sits in a wooded setting and over a creek in delightful repose. In Golden Valley, architect Jay Isenberg bought a concrete, split-level, 1950s “bunker” in foreclosure, which became the bedrock of a new home creatively reimagined to include a three-season porch and expansive open-plan living spaces.
After several additional stops, tour goers are invited to Nate Anderson’s fantastic homage to mid-century design, his Atomic Ranch Revival. After purchasing the 1957 walkout rambler (which was in foreclosure) in 2008, the landscape architect and former Docomomo US/MN member was determined “to get the house to where it belonged and beyond,” Anderson says. He kept the home’s original Anderson windows, cedar siding, partially vaulted cedar tongue-and-groove ceiling, and bomb shelter with bunkbeds. He added a vaulted ceiling in the kitchen to match the living spaces on the other side, a soffit detail that floats over the kitchen, and a floating wood stairway.
It’s a mid-century enthusiast’s drool-worthy dream—and a fitting end to the tour, which aims to provide (during the closing party at Anderson’s) plentiful food for thought and discussion about the range of aesthetics within mid-century modernist architecture, the value of preservation, and how creative thinking can bring mid-century into 21st century life. Purchase tickets to the tour here.