Houses are shelters, giving us refuge from the labors of the world. We all know that, but some houses take a while to learn the job. The home at 5021 Lyndale Ave. S. was a slow-starter. It was built in 1919, an early design by Jack Liebenberg. He also designed the Uptown Theatre as well as hundreds of other buildings and theatres all over the North.
It was built for William Wigginton, an immigrant who came to Minneapolis via France, England, Canada and St. Paul. He was the manager of the Dayton’s tearoom. The Wiggintons — William, Minnie and their son, Bill — enjoyed their gracious and spacious home for only three years before some unknown circumstance caused them to sell. They left Minneapolis but returned 10 years later. Bill became a beloved disc jockey on WCCO radio.
Waldo J. Ehlman owned the house for 4 years. He, too, suffered an apparent downturn in fortune. He tried to sell a product to protect the finish of those newfangled automobiles everyone was driving. He quickly turned to selling autos. By the Great Depression, he had sold his house on Lyndale and formed a mutual support group for out-of-work executives. The group was limited to those who had once earned more than $4,000 a year—a huge salary in the 1930s.
Roy and Grace Kivits bought the house next. Roy had worked his way up to being a department manager at a bank. Of course, banking was a tenuous field during the Depression, and he lost the job. The family struggled through the end of the Depression and the beginning of World War II. Short on cash, they put their Havilland china, furniture and penny-vending machine collection up for sale in classified ads. By 1946, they’d sold the house.
And here is where things turned brighter for 5021 Lyndale and its residents. The next owner, Carsten Jacobson, was a steady, careful Minneapolis city attorney, always looking out for his employer’s interests. He earned raise after raise, and for decades his family lived placid and comfortable lives.
In recent years, this house has changed hands at least five more times, each at a higher sale price. Recent real estate ads note how previous owners had updated the place but preserved the 1900s charm. At 100 years old, this is a comfortable and pleasing architectural gem, a home and haven for the folks who live there today.
Karen Cooper is a researcher at Hennepin History Museum. She is interested in Minneapolis lives and places nearly forgotten. If you would like to know your Southwest house’s history, please locate it in the museum’s photo collection and send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.