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A House with a History

The Legacy of a Farmhouse Built in 1904 is Carried on by it's Owners.

Whether a brand-new build or listed on the historic register, every property has an origin story, although some far more interesting than others. When we moved into our Shorewood house in 1998, the flyer describes a ten-year-old “charming dollhouse”. Charming dollhouse was dead accurate as it is darling indeed, but doesn’t have nearly enough closet space. Contrast this with the thoughtfully planned, spacious property at 4375 Shady Lane, new on the market for the first time in 40 years.

This property dates back to 1904 and was part of a working dairy farm, and a very high-end one for the era. Historic records describe a 1,000-acre farm complete with a large home, heated barns, greenhouses, and state of the art facilities for the animals; each cow had its very own window.  While the world and neighborhood morphed around it, the home has remained relatively the same as when it was built. This house boasts only four owners in one hundred and eighteen years. The most recent owners raised their five children there and have retained the integrity and spirit of the original structure, making virtually no changes. Dustin Brakemeier, the second eldest of the Brakemeier children, recalls an idyllic childhood at the Shady Lane house, utilizing the woods as a playground for endless wilderness adventures. “We even made our very own bobsled trail. It was during the Olympics. My friends and I dug a channel and put up logs as barriers so we could sled down the hill.”

A highlight in the living room is the remarkable built-in upright grand piano. This unique feature is the last of its kind in Minnesota. Mahogany cove moldings, original windows with leaded panes, intricate crown molding, and electric lightbulbs built into cove paneling are still intact. The ballroom features a fireplace with an intricately carved mantle. The spacious room is equipped to hold a large number of guests and is perfect for entertaining. For the last ten years it has been home to actual ballroom dance lessons taught by Robert and Jennifer Foster. The land the property sits on is also quite special. The 1.25-acre parcel abuts Lake Minnetonka Regional Park, so much of the view outside is of a nature preserve. One of Dustin’s favorite features of his childhood home is the porch that oversees both Lake Minnetonka and the woods. “It’s a very peaceful area.”

Chris Dennis with Lakes Area Realty says the view out the master bedroom is the longest view available on Lake Minnetonka that he is aware of. Owners can see all the way to Spring Park Bay from the master window, nearly a five-mile stretch. But is this old house livable for a 2022 lifestyle? Chris says, “When a buyer sees the house, it’s laid out well beyond modern standards.” As if the original owner had a crystal ball, the bedrooms are sizeable, there are numerous built-ins for storage, and the former servants’ quarters are equipped with a jack and jill bathroom and separate stairwell.  Ideal for a modern-day family with children. Ideal for having houseguests but allowing for privacy as well.

Dustin reflects, “As a child we didn’t realize what we had. We didn’t realize we were blessed with this exceptional house. Our whole goal is for another family to make great memories here.”

It is no small undertaking to renovate a historic home. The hope is that a buyer will fall in love with the legacy of this special property and make updates consistent with the soul of this estate. I’m struck by the consistent thread among the people who have lived in the Shady Lane house: they have all had an abiding respect for the care and craftsmanship that went into building such a home. They truly don’t build them like they used to. Old world grandeur plus the option to breathe brand new function into this beauty. What a rare opportunity to be one of only a handful of owners of this enduring piece of Minnetonka history.

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