Wanna buy this historic castle in the heart of Minneapolis?

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Lakes Area Realty

So you're in the market for a new house. You're eyeballing gigantic, European-style castles, but you're determined to stay in Minneapolis. 

You're in luck: Welcome to 116 E. 22nd St. 

"This one is probably one of the most spectacular properties we’ve listed in some time -- it’s so much fun," says listing agent Steve Havig, co-founder of Lakes Area Realty. "[The owners have] taken this thing down to the studs, all the way back out to what is it today."

Today, it's a lovingly restored six-bedroom, seven-bathroom, 10,631-square-foot castle with elegant woodwork, five fireplaces, a wine cellar, and a 17th century library imported from London. The palatial estate, which hit the market almost a year ago, can be yours for $1.8 million.

"It’s a very, very comfortable house -- we love it," says Uri Camarena, who's owned the property for 16 years with his wife, Melissa. "It’s a castle, but it’s super easy to live in."

The mansion was built 115 years ago by Alfred F. Pillsbury, son of local flour tycoon John S. Pillsbury. An avid collector of Chinese art, Alfred once donated 900-plus pieces to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, which is located just down the block. 

Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, the ol' Pillsbury place fell into severe disrepair, Camarena says. The space was used as, among other things, a boarding house, a law firm, an architectural firm, and a Lutheran seminary. 

The Camarenas purchased the urban castle for $550,000 in 2002, according to Hennepin County records. And they've since put plenty of equity into it. 

"We have touched every corner," says Uri, who works as a business consultant. "It needed a lot of work; it was a huge project, but it was all worth it."

Pretty much every aspect of the house required T.L.C. -- the hardwood floors, the plaster ceilings, the collapsed veranda. Rehabbing the exterior proved tricky, Camarena notes, since that variety limestone is no longer mined. Luckily, a crumbling church near the University of Minnesota was made of the same stone, and the Camarenas were able to swoop up the materials.

"We didn't do any major structural changes," Uri points out, noting that the mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. "[Melissa, an interior designer] gets all the credit for how the house looks now." 

Wanna see how it looks in-person? At the urging of their kids, the Camarenas began renting out rooms via AirBnB a couple years ago. For around $150 per night, you can stay inside their castle. The reviews are downright glowing; almost every user gushes over the building itself, while several others praise its delicious proximity to Eat Street, MIA, and downtown.  

"[Visitors] love staying in a place that has some history in Minnesota, that’s been respected by the current owners," Camarena says of his experience with AirBnB. "You can appreciate it through other people’s eyes."

So why are they unloading it? Due to age and practicality, Uri explains. Plus, they're currently working to restore a 300-year-old house in Guadalajara, Mexico.

"This winter made us decide on the urgency of the matter," Camarena laughs. "But Minnesota will still be home for us."

Here's a photo tour, courtesy of Lakes Area Realty; click here to view the listing.

 


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