Located near Lake of the Isles, the Purcell-Cutts House is considered one of the country’s most extraordinary examples of Prairie School architecture.
It was built in 1913 by architects William Gray Purcell and George Grant Elmslie. Purcell planned to live there with his family and wanted the house to be cutting-edge modern—light years ahead of the revival-style architecture that dominated other turn-of-the-20th-century housing. Their design was primarily influenced by Chicago architect Louis Sullivan’s progressive principles of organic architecture. (Note the nearly flat roof, open floor plan, and warm, earthy color palette… This place was boho Instagram a century before boho Instagram existed!)
Alas, the Purcells lived in the house for only a few years before hightailing it to Philly. Then in came Anson and Edna Cutts, who kept the home in their family until 1985. That’s when it was bequeathed to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, along with funding to restore it.
We first visited the house in winter 2019, shortly before the pandemic shut everything down. Mia suspended its in-person public tours, but seized upon the lockdown to complete the second phase of an exterior woodwork conservation project started in 2018. By summer 2021, Nick Doyle of Chiral Arts, Inc. had finished the home’s north and south facades.
After the two-year pause, guided house tours will finally resume in April. New areas of focus include hygiene and health in design, women in architecture, and the history of race and access to housing in Minneapolis in the early 1900s.
Tours are offered the second full weekend of each month. They’re limited to 15 guests at a time and masks are strongly encouraged, regardless of vaccination status. Tickets go on sale Monday, March 28, at tickets.artsmia.org and cost $10 for adults and $8 for museum members. Youth 17 and under are free.
If you go, pay special attention to the house’s custom-made stencils, gorgeous art glass windows, and that brilliant aviary-themed fireplace. Swoon! 😍
2328 Lake Pl., Minneapolis, MN; 612-870-3000.