Stunning, spectacular 1961 mid-century modern time capsule house in Minnesota — 66 photos!

mic century modern house 1961Tour-a-Time-CapsuleFor this 1961 time capsule house, by architect John Polivka just outside Minneapolis, I’m pulling out all my favorite adjectives, this house is: Stunning, spectacular, amazing, jaw-dropping, drop-dead gorgeous. Thanks to selling agent Jacob Smith of Sotheby’s International Realty for giving us permission to feature this house, and to reader Dan, who sent us this tip! Pictures tell this story, so move along, we worked overtime this Friday night to load up a slide show 66 beautiful photos — taken by Mike McCaw of Spacecrafting — who clearly had immense fun capturing the gorgeous linearity of this house on camera.  

mid century modernmid century modern minneapolis housemid-century-front-porch

According to the listing, this house was built in 1961. Covering just over 4,100 s.f., it has four bedrooms and fours baths. It sits on fully recreational Sweeney Lake and is just five minutes from Minneapolis. It is for sale for $1.25 million. A hefty sum, yes, but just keep lookin’ and you will understand.

Alas, we have rushed these photos to the blog so fast that we do not have information on the architect. The house seems to be a study in linearity. It also appears to have been impeccably maintained.

Update: Thanks to Retro Love Affair, who told us that the architect was John Polivka – you can read his biography here. You can also see another Polivka house, from 1959 – #6 on Retro Love Affair’s story about a 1959 Polivka design featured on a local home tour.

Take a look at a quick selection of shots, then head to the gallery below:

mid century modern entry way

mid century modern entrywaymid century modern family roommid century modern fireplacebeamed ceiling

Note the restrained palette — a rich warm brown brown, light colored brick, black slate tile and beams:

slate floor

mid century modern living room

mid century modern dining roommid century modrn kitchen

mid century modern kitchen

And pay attention — the two kitchen photo aboves — that is LIGHTING underneath all those beamed panels on the ceiling. This lighting design is repeated in bathrooms and throughout the house — that is, minimal use of “ceiling fixtures”, upstairs especially. The vintage refrigerators are Revco, I’d guess — see this story.

And, oh my my, take a look at the staircase: Again, linearity is the rule of the day:

retro modern staircasemid century modern staircase mid century stair case

In the bathrooms, note the use of small square mosaic tiles — this is EASILY REPLICATED today!

sunken tub bathroom mid century modern bathroomretro bathroom vanityThe house is situated to enjoy the vista across Sweeney Lake:

mid-century-house-ranchYes, we like to show lots of mid century modest houses here on the blog — because they are wonderful, too, and we do not want them to get lost in the shuffle of the seemingly ever-onward aspirations in our society today. That said, we ADORE a gorgeous, architect mid-century modern masterpiece as much as the next person. Golly heck, we adore this house!

Repeat of link love:

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:

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  1. Kathy C says

    What is getting me the most is how great that slate floor is and how the grout is clean! My slate entry way with 1958 grout looks shameful compared to this gleaming beauty! They must have re-grouted, or they had the best cleaning person in the world! I would love my entry way to shine like that, but I’m afraid to re-grout!

  2. Johnny says

    What can one say that hasn’t already been said? It’s reassuring to see that there are so many ardent admirers of what I’ve loved for so long. We should all be so fortunate to live in such a dream home although, I’d prefer mine in No. California.

  3. Sara of WA says

    They must have had amazing masons and craftsman work on this project. Not your basic lines. The low long (long, long) line is just fantastic. I have old house plan books with 2000 sq.ft. versions of the stretched out “v” but this takes the cake. I think I would still be staring at the front door area deciding what to plant in the built in window planter while the rest of the tour debates the toilet situation. I’ll catch up. Absolutely wonderful.

  4. Lauryn says

    Wow, I’m damn near speechless. Except to say, I want to hold our next annual Mint Julep party there. Incredible space.

  5. Penny says

    When I first saw that angled window, I thought I might have finally found the house in an old tv movie from probably the early nineties that I saw on TV recently with Gwyneth Paltrow. I don’t think it is, but that is one spectacular piece of architecture! Drool worthy! But if anyone knows the movie and house I’m talking about let me know (it could have just been a set of course, but it was so specifically MCM for no reason that I feel like it’s a real house)!

  6. Jeff says

    Okay, Pam, I woke up to this, and you’re to blame for me snarfing my coffee, and literally falling out of my computer chair! This is without doubt, the finest mid century home I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen alot of them…..makes mine look like the ugly stepsister/outhouse in comparison. I think I’ll just start rent a bulldozer and plow mine under, because it’s not worthy! LOL. Turquoise front doors with starbursts (like mine) total flip out….

  7. jay says

    Splendiferous! What a treat to find this on Sunday! Nice floating staircase, wood paneling and stone work. The house is worth every penny. The house requires a special buyer who can appreciate it the way it is – including the furniture if its original to the house.

  8. says


    The location and size of yard made me think it might be vulnerable.
    I just read on another blog about an idea for individual homes that hadn’t been designated historic.

    The idea is to include in the sales contract verbiage that restricts the new owner from demolishing, or modifying the home for 25 years. This time would be outside the normal corp. tax break timeframe of 20 years and might also prevent land banking.

    • Katie says

      I’m curios about this idea of writing restrictions in the sales contract, but I can see a lot of buyers not going for it. I have purchased 5 homes in the past 8 years and have made modifications to every one of them. I do know my last home that the owner did not want to see a single thing changed, but the reality is that a lot of older homes do need some modifications for modern family life. Also, if there were an injury or disability would the new owner be able to modify the home to make it handicap accessible? And what happens when the new owner goes to sell? Would they have to impose the same limits? Or is it just the exterior that can’t be modified? Although I must admit I hope the buyer of this house doesn’t change too much!

      • says

        Yes, the idea raises questions. I think the point was that each contract would vary based on the intent of the homeowner. However, the idea would be to follow the guidelines of historic building designations. The restrictions would apply to each successive homeowner, just like an easement. Possible ADA requirements would have to be addressed as well.

        It would be complicated, but maybe no more than trying to get the home designated historic.

        This home is surely worth saving and ADA compliance looks like it might be minimal along with the addition of an elevator.

  9. Sherri says

    Absolutely stunning. Does anyone know what you call that kind of patchwork slate tile? We are putting some flooring in our much smaller mid-century gem of a house and I would love to know if that type of flooring is at all possible.

  10. M.A. Steinberger says

    So beautiful I would even put up with the awful winters to live in that house in that setting. Even looks roomy enough for our 9 1/2 ft. Bösendorfer, plus string quartet!

  11. Cathy says

    “Oh WOW!”…That’s all I kept saying! Such a beauty and It looks as if it was just completed by the builder. Great job with preserving/restoring this house-kuddos to the current/previous owners! LOVE LOVE LOVE this, and I agree with other comments: this is by far the best time capsule yet! I really appreciate the homes that, from the outside are so deceiving as to their size. I’m adding this architect to my list of houses to build mine by!

  12. Wayne says

    Beautiful home which I could never afford, but love getting the inspiration! As a consolation, my laundry room cabinets have the same pulls as pictured in this kitchen.

  13. Katie says

    If it comes with the sectional couch I’m sold! Ohh, wait I’m not sure that the bank will finance me, ohh well, we can always dream. Thanks for the wonderful find.

  14. Michael says


    Could this be the most amazing time capsule house you’ve featured?! It is just stunning. There is not a thing I would change if I were lucky enough to live there.


  15. Dan Dexter says

    What a MCM stunner this is! It seems almost not lived in. I am dreaming of how I would furnish this magnificent home if I was lucky enough to call it my own.

  16. Kelly says

    This is the most incredible home I’ve ever seen! It makes me so happy just to look at it. I hope the lucky buyers live happily ever after there!

  17. JKM says

    I wonder if anyone would care if I sat in the yard and just stared at the house all day. I’d bring my own chair. I can’t take my eyes off it.

  18. Bud says

    I have never commented on anything like this before, never felt the need to, but this home has me seriously contemplating a move from Southern California. It is perfection. Is the rest of the neighborhood MCM? Just curious, as I would love to live in a community of MCM homes. Hard to find in So Cal, there seems to be quite a bit in this area of the country. I guess I can just hibernate in the winter, it’s one heck of a cave!

  19. JT3 says

    Best example I have seen on this website or others. Amazing. The heating bill would be my only concern, being on a lake in MN.

  20. J D Log says

    That’s what I was thinking Stephanie. I love the garage and carport I could see a beautiful Lincoln, Cadillac or Imperial of the period parked there.

  21. Carole says

    There are some houses you step inside of and there are ALWAYS things you want/need to change, but this house….omg….would.not.change.a.thing. Beautiful. So ahead of it’s time….Fabulous architect to have designed a home that still looks modern and liveable today.

    The only thing I question…is that the dishwasher situated so far from the sink, and with carpet in front of it? Wouldn’t like that a whole bunch. ;-)

  22. Teresa says

    It’s stunning plus every other superlative you can think of. I can almost hear Sinatra singing in the background. You could film an episode of Mad Men here and hardly change a thing. Please please lucky new owners, I hope you keep this gem true to it’s style.

  23. Beverly says

    That kitchen is just impeccable (heck the whole house is impeccable)! The appliances are so current but fit the style of the house so well. This is what I look for in mid century… I can just see myself puttering around those grand hallways in heaven. But alas the price.

  24. Cysco says

    I love my house and it’s not often that I see another house and think “yah, I’d take that over my place.” But DAMN! I’d dump my place so fast to live there. (please don’t tell my house I said that) :-)

    That is one STUNNING house.

  25. Gayle Kirkman says

    I think I lived in this house before the remodel. The only thing I recognize is staircase. Was this house on the grounds of Glenwood Hills Medical? We lived in this house for about 10 years and it looked nothing like this. THe contractor had to gut the whole thing inside and out. It was built originally with hospital materials. Very metal and glass and terazzo tile. I had my wedding reception in this house and have some pictures of how it looked if you want to see them. WE called it the Island house.
    Gayle Viehman Kirkman

  26. Gayle Kirkman says

    This is Gayle again, Brother Dan V says it is not the Island House that we lived in, but that the Island House Has been totally redone also and is awesome. You should feature that house too. It is on Sweeny Lake too.
    Gayle Viehman Kirkman

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