Docomomo US/MN’s Fall Tour Features University Grove Homes and Mindful Renovations

Before you head out for the tour, learn more about the featured mid-century homes here.
Built in 1948 for Boyd Thomes and Art Naftalin, this duplex in Minneapolis’ Prospect Park was designed by architect Elizabeth “Lisl” Close.

Courtesy of Andrea Rugg

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.

The Star House, designed by Arthur Dickey, is a 1973 home designed in the shape of the six-pointed Star of David. Tour it on Edmund Boulevard in Minneapolis.

Courtesy of Ben Clasen

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.

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