Twin Cities castle gets makeover


GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. (McClatchy) — How do you decorate a castle?

Tina Wilcox knows — and she didn’t even have to switch up her signature style when she moved into her stone, French Norman-style home, complete with turret, in Golden Valley.

She already had all the ingredients — grand oversized furniture, chandeliers and candelabras and even a collection of vintage crowns — from her previous house, a century-old Georgian colonial in Minneapolis. “In a previous life, I must have lived in the ‘Downton Abbey’ era,” she said of her formal yet whimsical aesthetic.

The Golden Valley house’s mysterious castle-like vibe was what attracted Wilcox to it.

“The minute I walked in, I knew I would buy it,” said Wilcox of the 1940 house perched on a hill, with its grand circular staircase and foyer. “I could see all my furniture in here.”

She had the living room fireplace rebuilt to match one she’d left behind in Minneapolis, and replaced all the lighting, bringing chandeliers from her previous house, including the huge one that now hangs above the circular staircase. “It took three guys to lift it into the house,” she said. “We had to take the door off.”

Every room features bold, quirky design statements, from the “man wall” covered with antique male portraits in her family room, to the architectural salvage, from a bank entrance, that serves as a headboard in her bedroom.

Then there are the vintage taxidermy and offbeat collections on display, including antique dog collars, religious icons, French crowns and “oddities,” such as skulls under glass. “I like macabre things.”

Her quirky collectibles make a stronger statement in the Golden Valley house.

The one room that departs from the Old World vibe is a cheery, panda-themed guest room Wilcox created for her two young grandchildren.

Even the backyard got a makeover, with a new circular stone planter. Wilcox hangs bird cages on the tree branches, filled with birdseed, to attract feathered visitors.

After she started meeting neighbors, Wilcox learned that her home’s history is intertwined with one of the most notorious figures in Twin Cities history: Kid Cann, aka Isadore Blumenfeld, a gangster and bootlegger linked to at least three murders. According to local lore, Cann once lived in “The Castle” and entertained other mobsters there, including Al Capone.

“When I moved in, people said, ‘Oooh! You bought the Kid Cann house,’?” Wilcox recalled. “That sounds ominous. I didn’t know. Everyone asks, ‘Have you found any bodies yet?’”

She hasn’t. Although there is “a creepy crawl space downstairs,” she said. “I’ve never looked in there.”

By Kim Palmer

Star Tribune