Along Mississippi River Boulevard in St. Paul sits a grand estate on a hill with a tennis court, pool, poolhouse and underground hot tub.
The home on the property, an English Tudor, is touted in publications for its architecture. Designed by Clarence H. Johnston of Glensheen Mansion in Duluth fame — not to mention several palatial homes around the Twin Cities and University of Minnesota buildings such as Williams Arena — the abode is considered to be among the architect’s most distinguished pieces of work.
Now, the stately brick and stone home along the Mississippi River near the Town and Country Club has listed.
“It is one of the most iconic homes in St Paul,” said listing agent Mike Lynch.
The space features 7,500 finished square feet, five bedrooms and six bathrooms. Amenities include a formal dining room, office, entertainment room, three-season porch, sitting room and family room. Five fireplaces, including four original wood-burning ones, also are featured.
Lynch said the property sits on a city lot just over an acre. In addition to amenities such as a pool and tennis court, the grounds come with manicured gardens and mature trees. At the same time, the home has an abundance of ornate natural woodwork and an old-world charm.
When the home was built, it was like no other that Johnston had designed before according to the book “St. Paul’s Architecture: A History” by Jeffrey A. Hess and Paul Clifford Larson.
“Built for a second-generation lumber magnate, it was one of the two most expensive houses to be erected in the city in 1925,” reads an excerpt from the book. “Its formal approach and scholarly detailing betray lingering connections to the firm’s many manorial houses of the prior two decades.”
According to the Minnesota Historical Society, the home is referred to as the A.C. Jefferson House after the original owner.
Past and present
Current homeowners David and Shari Boehnen have lived in the home for more than 37 years. They are the sixth owners, with predecessors that have included some of the most prominent Twin Cities families.
Prior owners have made their updates over the years — including the late Dorothy and Henri Foussard, who undertook a significant bump-out project in the 1960s that added a family room and a new main bedroom suite to the space above it.
The Boehnens have made updates, too, while carefully looking after the home’s architectural details and original charm.
“We have loved our home and taken detailed care of the house and grounds,” Shari said. “We’ve tried to keep it according to the English Tudor style while enhancing the decor.”
Substantial projects have included reconfiguring the layout of the primary bedroom and relocating the en suite, which they said was a game-changer.
“Now the bathroom gets a lot of sunlight where it’s located. And where the bathroom was, there are now walk-in closets,” Shari said.
Other major updates include adding a three-season porch and an underground hot tub to enhance the outdoor living spaces.
The kitchen also received a major makeover.
“We completely redid it, keeping the architecture and the beauty of the home in mind,” Shari said.
Materials and finishes were carefully sourced. Custom cabinets were made of Makore wood, while marble countertops were sourced from India. The butler’s pantry was converted into a wet bar. And kitchen appliances were upgraded to feature the latest in top-end appliances.
David said previous owners spared no expense with upgrades. And when their family moved in, they did their best to carry on that tradition.
“It’s all top of the line. With a house like this, you don’t do anything less than that,” he said.
At the same time, the house has maintained its original characters such as hand-carved custom woodwork, a carved stone fireplace in the living room and leaded glass details.
Now that their children are grown, the Boehnens are downsizing, making room for the next generation of homeowners to enjoy all that comes with the property.
“It belongs to a young family,” David said.
When that time comes, the Boehnens will take with them the grand memories of having lived in such a unique home, just as past homeowners have.
Bill Foussard’s parents were the third homeowners. Bill recalled growing up there in the late 1950s to the early 1970s.
The tennis court wasn’t there yet (another homeowner later added it) and that space used to be a hockey rink. The family hosted a carnival on the grounds every fall, complete with a Ferris wheel.
“All the kids in the neighborhood would come,” Bill said. “It was a lot of fun growing up there.”
The Boehnens agree it’s a great place to raise a family and to host gatherings.
“We’ve raised our three daughters here,” Shari said. “We’ve had many parties — dinner parties, Christmas parties, family parties, summer parties, tennis parties, you name it.”
One thing that will be especially fun for a young family, or at least the kids, is exploring such a custom-built house from back in the day.
“There are nooks and crannies you wouldn’t find in a more contemporary home. There’s a little area that my children loved to play in when they were small. Then my grandchildren kind of rediscovered it,” Shari said.
“It was their little fort or playhouse. Nobody could enter besides the children. Well, that’s mainly because no one could get in there unless you were a certain size.”
Mike Lynch (Mike.firstname.lastname@example.org; 612.619.8227) of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty has the $2.4 million listing.