St. Paul Mansion originally built at $1.85 million for the list of Hamm brewing families – Advice Eating

In the 1930s, the Hamm brewing family commissioned Clarence Johnston Sr. to build a Georgian Revival in St. Paul on a sprawling 2-acre lot.

The quaint Crocus Hill estate has rarely changed hands over the years. Now, after three decades, Bonnie and Jim D’Aquila are ready to hand the property over to the fourth generation of homeowners. They launched the 10,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom, eight-bathroom home.

“It will be sad to move out, but then again, it gives someone else the chance to have this wonderful experience,” Jim said. “[We moved here because] We were impressed by the history of the house. And that courtyard was extraordinarily private and plentiful.”

A History of Minnesota Royalty

According to Paul Clifford Larson’s book Minnesota Architect: The Life and Work of Clarence H. Johnston, the house was the last known work of Johnston, who died the year the house was built. Its large scale is consistent with other Johnston-designed residences such as the Glensheen Mansion in Duluth and the Summit Avenue estates.

The D’Aquilas appreciate the house’s rich history, which became even richer when the couple, who are active in the arts, met the original owner.

The home was built for Theodora “Pinkie” Lang, the granddaughter of Hamm’s founder Theodore Hamm and the daughter of William Hamm Sr., who succeeded his father in the family business.

Like Pinkie, the D’Aquilas are art lovers and met her by chance at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Pinkie told the couple about the history of the house and how it earned its nickname “Limousine House” for its lavish parties.

“We met her a couple of times. She is a very kind person… [her] Son was sitting in the living room and the memories flooded,” Jim said.

preserve and improve

The D’Aquilas maintained the house well and took on larger projects over the years.

“The house needed a full restoration—paint, lots of ceiling repairs, and new roofing,” Jim said. “Over time, we developed completely new mechanics.” Wood finishes, including pecan wood walls and cabinets, were preserved.

The house was built with two separate areas, one for the family and the other for the staff. The couple made the disjointed spaces cohesive and appropriate for modern life.

The biggest transformation took place in the kitchen, where walls were expanded and removed to create a more open floor plan. The original linoleum asphalt tiles have been replaced with slate floors. Top-of-the-line kitchen appliances have been installed.

“The whole family is passionate about cooking,” said Jim.

Other rooms have also been remodeled. A former tailor’s workshop became a study corner for the couple’s children. A wine cellar was created from a former canning room. A sauna was added in the basement.

Some love has also been given to the outdoor areas. The couple added a lanai off the living and dining room that overlooks the valley and built in a pool.

The English Garden was also spruced up with a fountain and a greenhouse. They also added a wood-fired pizza oven and a Tuscan terracotta grill.

Idyllic spaces

With their adult children, the soon-to-be-empty nests are ready to move on.

“It’s time for our next chapter in life,” Bonnie said.

Listing Agent Mike Lynch said the property is notable for its history and features — from the floor-to-ceiling windows to five wood-burning fireplaces.

“To me, this is an excellent illustration of the work of architect Clarence Johnston and the impact he has made on the city of St. Paul,” he said. “The sellers of this home have lovingly and thoughtfully taken the property to the next level.”

The D’Aquilas said they loved the house for its large rooms, which served as the perfect backdrop for things they enjoy.

“It’s such a beautiful place to appreciate art,” said Jim. “For some of these newer homes with such an open floor plan, the wall space and artwork is an afterthought.”

The property is also ideal for gatherings.

“We were able to have so many people with us at the same time. It became the focus of our family,” Bonnie said. “I hope people use it [the house] Celebrating family and friendships the way Pinkie did and the way we did.”

Mike Lynch (Mike.lynch@lakesmn.com; 612-619-8227) of Lakes Sotheby’s International Realty owns the $1.85 million listing.

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