‘Magical’ Summit Avenue Home Is a Nature-Lover’s Paradise

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While this Tudor Revival villa built in 1909 may seem like just another historic home on the St. Paul real estate market, 1180 Summit Ave. offers more than immediately meets the eye. 

The four-bedroom, three-bathroom George and Emmalyn Van Slyke House was designed by Shakopee native Peter J. Linhoff, an architect responsible for the design of a number of West Summit Avenue Historic District homes. Van Slyke—of Finch, Van Slyck, and McConville Dry Goods Company, the largest dry goods wholesaler in St. Paul—distributed merchandise including carpets, wallpaper, upholstery, overalls, jackets, suits, and shirts. 

The home most recently served as the residence of Marge Hols—a renowned master gardener, member of the St. Paul Garden Club, and garden columnist for the Pioneer Press—and her husband David. 

The home was originally listed in mid-April for $999,900, and notably features an 18-foot-by-18-foot mahogany conservatory designed by St. Paul-based architect Kathryn Olmstead, which includes its own HVAC unit and plumbing. It was constructed in Tewkesbury, England, then shipped to St. Paul for reassembly. It was re-listed last week for $949,900.

“It has changed my life in winter,” Hols said in a 2016 interview with Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. “It faces south and gets full sun and allows me to play with my plants. It makes winter bearable.”

Hols sadly died last summer from Stage IV pancreatic cancer at the age of 86, but her masterful gardens are preserved in a collection of photographs compiled by the St. Paul Garden Club. Two years ago, the Smithsonian Institute accepted the St. Paul Garden Club’s submission of “St. Paul—Hols Garden” into The Garden Club of America collection in its Archives of American Gardens, making her gardens available for the world to observe, appreciate, and study. 

The English-style home required English-inspired gardens—thus the eight garden areas including the front yard garden, main garden, east-side woodland “wild garden,” back garden, herb garden, terrace garden, conservatory indoor garden, and alley garden. The property’s bountiful blooms have been the subject of a number of private and public tours, offering a peek at various plants including azaleas, boxwood shrubs, begonias, succulents, serviceberry shrubs, lilacs, geraniums, daisies, roses, and new plants developed by University of Minnesota horticulturists. Iron fencing and bluestone pathways pair perfectly with the perennial plantings. 

Inside the home, leaded glass and divided light windows create “a bright and airy feel while amazing details demand closer inspection,” according to its listing on Coldwell Banker Realty by real estate agent Charlie Neimeyer. 

There’s a Gothic Revival staircase, wood floors with original inlay, and wood paneled walls which invite you to take a step back in time—and maybe, just maybe, sip a cup of English tea.

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