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Purcell and Elmslie Home Designs in Lynnhurst

Homes designed by many prominent local architects from the 1890s to the 1930s can be found throughout our neighborhood. The designs of Purcell, Feick and Elmslie (Purcell and Elmslie after 1912) are particularly well represented.

For most of their career, William Purcell and George Elmslie designed private homes in the then-burgeoning Prairie style popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago. Purcell and Elmslie, who were followers of Wright, worked for them same architect in Chicago – Louis Sullivan. They came to Minneapolis and started their own firm in 1907. The firm, in various forms, designed many homes in Minneapolis and other cities until 1932.

The designs of Purcell and Elmslie were quite progressive for their time, and incorporated such elements as bands of matching windows, movable walls, wide overhangs, cooling systems and finished basements. Their houses looked different than the Victorian homes that people were accustomed to at the time and had more in common with the increasingly popular Arts & Crafts movement, though the Prairie style was a style of its own.

Several Purcell and Elmslie homes still exist in Lynnhurst, including 4845 Bryant Ave. S., 4829 Colfax Ave. S., 4700 Fremont Ave. S., 4609 Humboldt Ave. S. and 4920 Dupont Ave. S. These homes are all private, but you can tour the Purcell-Cutts House near Lake of the Isles, which is owned by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. On your next wealk through the neighborhood, take a look at these houses and notice their classic yet very contemporary design. The Prairie style is experiencing a revival today, and looking at these Purcell and Elmslie house of 100 years ago, we can see how ahead of their time they really were.

– Mike O’Brien, 2000

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