Catherine Gray House, 2409 East Lake of the Isles Boulevard, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Catherine Gray House

Catherine Gray House (pic taken in 2010)
Catherine Gray House - front steps (pic taken in 2010)
Address: 2409 Lake of the Isles Parkway E
Neighborhood/s: Kenwood, Minneapolis, Minnesota, East Isles, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1907
Primary Style: Prairie School
Additions: Southern sun porches, two-story rear addition, second floor was added above the dining room wing in 1918. Architect unknown.

Conservatory added to the east off the dining room in the 1970s. Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Architects

Major Alterations: Significant Alterations
Historic Function: House/single dwelling or duplex
Current Function: House/single dwelling or duplex
Architect or source of design: Purcell & Feick
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick
Material of Foundation: Concrete
First Owner: William Gray Purcell
Notes: Other residents associated with the home based on city directories were The 1924 city directory indicates that Mr. and Mrs. Carl E. Sager (1924) and John R. Ridgway (1930).

Kenwood, East Isles Minneapolis Hennepin County

Catherine Gray House, 2409 East Lake of the Isles Boulevard, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.959284° N, 93.302214° WLatitude: 44°57′33.422″N
Longitude: 93°18′7.97″W

This house was originally William Purcell's own home where he resided with his grandmother after she moved to Minneapolis from Chicago in 1907 to live with him. The home was later renamed for his grandmother after Purcell and his new wife moved into their new home 'Lake Place'. Catherine Gray continued to live in the home until 1917 or 1918 with long-time companion Annie M. Ziegler. About 1910, George Feick, Jr., Purcell's original partner and later partner to Purcell and Elmslie, also resided here.



At one point years after it was completed Purcell referred to it as "My first project of any consequence…" The design is based on Frank Lloyd Wright's 'A Fireproof House for $5,000' published in the April 1907 issue of Ladies' Home Journal, although larger. Not yet a partner with George Grant Elmslie, Purcell sent sketches to Elmslie in Chicago for suggestions. After drawings were finished in July 1907 he took them to Chicago for critiques by Elmslie and Wright. Construction began in August and was completed just before Thanksgiving that same year.

The home has been much changed through the years. Where the south two-story sunporch is now there was originally a screened hall that connected to a screened rectangular "summer porch". The home incorporated features for the first time that later became standard in Purcell designed homes such as casement windows and an asymmetrical entry.

In 1918 the sun porches replaced the "summer porch" and a large two-story addition, which now incorporates an attached garage, was added to the northeast corner of the house. A second floor was added above the dining room wing. Probably around the same time a number of other changes were made. The freestanding fireplace that created a "reception room" and the north end of the living room was removed and replaced by new fireplace on the east wall of the living room where a band of windows had been. Piers, beams, and a dropped ceiling along the east edge of the living room that had created a hall were removed as was a wall that defined a coat closet in the "reception room".

The floor of the entry pavilion was raised and the open front section was enclosed. The half flight stairway from the entry pavilion to the original kitchen and the rear of the entry pavilion was converted to a half bath. This also required eliminating the rear door of the entry. To accommodate the raising of the entry pavilion floor, the stairway was rebuilt and the landing over the entry pavilion was moved to the north about three feet.

The center front bedroom on the second floor was converted to bathrooms and the banding of 5 windows was modified to a non-continuous band of 4 windows in order to accommodate the bathroom walls.

At some point in time the stucco, brick and stained wood trim were painted white. This particularly irritated William Purcell who later wrote: "This bldg. now badly damaged by repairs-and painting the lovliest brick that God ever let man make-ALL WHITE."

A conservatory was added to the east off the dining room in the 1970s while owned by Mr. and Mrs. Angus Wertle. Mr. Wertle was formerly the CEO of Valspar Corporation.

In 2003, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) purchased the property from from the Wertles with a "significant portion" of the sale price donated by them to MPR's capital campaign. At that time the home was redecorated with the assistance of donations from various local businesses. It was put on the market as part of MPR's new capital fund-raising campaign and purchased by Michael S. Gilliland in early 2005. It was sold again later in 2005 to Brian and Mary Longe.

The Longes hired Joseph G. Metzler of SALA Architects SALA Architects to assist with an extensive exterior restoration. Brick, stucco, windows and trim were stripped and restored to their natural appearance. The windowboxes along the front of the house were restored and the entire house was tuckpointed. The later conservatory was removed from the back of the house, and original steps and brick piers were rebuilt. The original front entrance door was returned and new art glass was designed for the door based on an historic photograph. Brick piers at the entrance pavilion were restored to their original height and a window at the entrance that had been modified was also restored. The Longes requested a "Knock-Knock" art glass window be designed, in the playful spirit of Lake Place's "Peek-A-Boo" window, for this restored opening.

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