Movin’ on up

‘Mary Tyler Moore House’ has grown to 10,000 square feet and a seven-figure price tag

If Mary Tyler Moore had lived in the third-floor apartment of the Kenwood house featured in the opening credits of her 1970s TV show, she would have had plenty of room to roam.

The third-floor digs feature a small kitchen, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large living space with a fireplace, its own washer and dryer, and, of course, the arched windows made famous by the 1970s TV series. The opening credits show the home and zoom in on the third floor, where the show had Mary and her friend Rhoda living. The scenes from the apartment were actually filmed on set, but that doesn’t make the third floor of the home any less impressive. At an estimated 1,800 square feet, the upper floor of the house is large enough to be a fair-sized home of its own.

But the third floor is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Queen Anne Victorian house at 2104 Kenwood Pkwy. The recently remodeled home, often referred to simply as the Mary Tyler Moore, features eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms, five fireplaces, a sauna and a nanny apartment, among the long – and we’re talking long – list of amenities.

Currently for sale, the house also features a price tag of $3.62 million and estimated annual property taxes of about $17,500, making it a pricey piece of real estate. The most a buyer paid for a single-family home in the Kenwood neighborhood last year was $3.1 million, according to data from the city of Minneapolis Assessor’s Office.

Burnsville residents Don and Pat Gerlach purchased the home, along with several silent partners, in May 2005 for $1.1 million, according to the city’s property information database. Pat Gerlach said she and her husband saw an ad for the house in the paper in March of that year and decided to take on the challenge of renovating it. Don Gerlach is a teacher in Burnsville, and Pat works for the St. Paul Public Library system.

Pat Gerlach said the investors have poured “hundreds of thousands” of dollars into the remodel project but wouldn’t speculate on a total. She and McNally did note that redoing the electrical wiring alone cost $200,000, replacing the floors cost $100,000 and purchasing new kitchen cabinets cost $85,000. They also installed a new heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system that includes the four new furnaces it takes to heat the nearly 10,000-square-foot home.

A modern update

Debbie McNally, the ReMax Results Realtor who is listing the home along with Coldwell Banker Burnet Realtor David Azbill, said the Gerlachs and other investors have done far more than surface work to the home. They updated the 1892 Victorian with modern conveniences such as an attached garage and a finished basement while retaining much of its original detail.

“The key part of this whole thing is they brought this to a place where you have all of the conveniences of 2006 and yet you step through these doors and still find all of the history,” McNally said.

Pat Gerlach said even though she and her husband never had any intention of living in the home, they went into the project knowing that to truly renovate it, they would need to get at what lies beneath the surface.

“I don’t think you want to do something like this without doing it right because it’s an insult to the house and an insult to the neighborhood if it isn’t done right,” Pat Gerlach said, adding that they wanted the house to be a comfortable living space that didn’t come across as being ostentatious.

The renovations have changed the house so dramatically that at times during a tour of the home Pat Gerlach and McNally had to pause and think about how a certain room or corner used to look before walls were removed or stairways added. As part of the remodel, a large family room was added on that serves to connect the house with the three-car garage. A large room above the garage that could serve as nanny quarters or an office includes a bathroom. The kitchen renovations included completely opening up what used to be four smaller sections into one incredibly spacious room that flows into the newly constructed family room. The spacious cooking space boasts three refrigerators (one large, one small and a beverage cooler), two sinks, four ovens, two convection/microwave ovens and plenty of granite counter space.

The remainder of the first floor – which features a grand staircase in the entryway, a living room of large proportion and a dining room and parlor – has also been updated with new hardwood floors and windows. The basement also underwent renovations that transformed it from an old, limestone-walled cellar to a large space featuring a laundry room, exercise room and large entertaining area, among other things.

Each remodeling decision made, Gerlach said, was carefully planned.

For example, she said she “agonized, agonized, agonized” in choosing a soft cream color for the kitchen cabinets rather than a wood finish.

“The house the way it was before was perpetually lavish,” Gerlach said. “It just needed to be updated and have someone spend the time on it.”

The second floor features four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The third floor is, of course, the “Mary Tyler Moore floor.” Pat Gerlach envisions the famous third floor now functioning as a guest suite.

“You could have people come up here and they could do their own thing,” Pat Gerlach said.

Maybe so, but if you want to get a peek at this place before it’s off the market, think again. Azbill said only serious buyers – whose financial backgrounds have been checked – are given tours of the house.

“You can’t be a curiosity looker and step into a $3 million home,” he said.

Azbill said at the price point of the Mary Tyler Moore house, Realtors never get too many showings. The handful of people who have looked at the house is a good number for a house with an asking price of more than $3 million, he said. Is that because of the Mary Tyler Moore mystique?

“It will definitely get them in the door and will make them look at the house,” Azbill said. “But from there, it depends on whether the house is a good fit for their family and their needs.”


Reach Kari VanDerVeen at [email protected] or 436-4373.