Duluth 'floating' house is yours for $750,000
Congdon Park neighborhood home will be featured on a historic properties tour Sunday.
DULUTH — From the street, Peter Gesell's house looks like any other, but nearing the door is another story. The concrete driveway extends to a walkway suspended in air.
Gesell's “floating” home and its steel scaffolding supports are firmly planted in Duluth's Congdon Park neighborhood.
The balcony juts out into the treetops, and the backyard is made up of a rocky trench along the creek.
“The only lawn is the boulevard, and as you can see I don’t mow that ever,” Gesell said.
Gesell's home, listed for sale at $750,000, will be featured in the Duluth Preservation Alliance’s historic properties tour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The self-guided tour features six properties, five of which are midcentury modern, like Gesell's. This year’s locations:
- 1545 Skyline Parkway
- 219 S. 26th Ave. E.
- 1955 Hartley Road
- 2700 Minnesota Ave.
- 3328 E. Superior St.
- 2131 E. Second St.
The Duluth Preservation Alliance aims to maintain and enhance Duluth architectural heritage. Along with tours, the organization recognizes preservation efforts and hosts educational presentations.
After years of virtual events, this is DPA’s first live tour since 2018. Expect homes built in 1940 and 1950s and a variety of midcentury styles.
Post-WWII America saw a lot of change, which was mirrored in its domestic architecture, said Blake Romenesko, Duluth Preservation Alliance president.
For Gesell, it is a reminder of the home he grew up in. “I see myself more as a caretaker, less as an owner,” he said.
Gesell bought the house at 3328 E. Superior St. in 2005.
The three-bedroom, three-bathroom features vaulted ceilings, an indoor pool, natural woodwork, a fireplace and oodles of built-ins, shag carpeting with carpets and vanities to match. The foyer’s vertical brick extends out to the exterior wall.
There’s an entertaining kitchen on the main floor with a sink, stove and mini-fridge. The larger kitchen is in a side room with a full-size refrigerator.
The only set of stairs in the one-level home leads to the pool surrounded by green carpeting. Gesell said it hasn’t been filled since he bought it.
Asked about any quirks residing above a creek, Gesell recalled the 2012 flood.
“It came down Superior Street, came up on the driveway and both sides of the house,” he said. While the water didn’t infiltrate the home or garage, Gesell said, “If you had fallen into the creek, you would’ve been washed into Lake Superior.”
Lewis Erickson designed and built the house on “stilts” for his wife, Gwendolyn, whose early polio diagnosis affected her legs.
With this in mind, Erickson, a professional engineer, equipped their home with a one-level, open floor plan.
At the time of its completion, the estimated value of the building was $45,000, according to the Duluth Preservation Alliance.
The house was sold by the time Lewis’ grandson, Brad, was born, but it’s still highly regarded in the family. “It’s pretty amazing it withstood all these years,” he said. “Driving by on Superior Street, you’d never know it’s on stilts.”
The story was updated at 10:39 p.m. Sept. 16 to correct the spelling of Peter Gesell's name. Also the Duluth Preservation Alliance’s last in-person tour was 2018.
If you go
- What: Duluth Preservation Alliance’s historic properties self-guided tour
- When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
- Cost: $25 at duluthpreservation.org ; day-of tickets available from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at Fitger's complex lobby
- More info: duluthpreservation.org
Jessica Buelow and Karen Rue from the Gulliford & Rue Realty Team at Edina Realty are handling this listing.