Harold Crawford designed home offers unique 'nooks and crannies' northeast of Rochester
“Harold did a lot of unique things, and he’s got some trademark things with the smaller rooms and the elevation changes,” said Chad Carpenter, Elcor Realty of Rochester associate broker.
HAVERHILL TOWNSHIP — When Andrew Urness hatched his home plan, he laid out a newspaper and discovered his desired home.
He shared the newspaper clipping with Rochester architect Harold Crawford, who used the clipping to design a large home at 836 Third Ave. SE in 1934.
“Harold did a lot of unique things, and he’s got some trademark things with the smaller rooms and the elevation changes,” said Chad Carpenter, Elcor Realty of Rochester associate broker. “You can tell when you walk in the house that it’s one of his designs.”
Urness owned the Rochester Chick Hatchery, which kept coop at Dr. Christopher Graham’s horse barn and was an early structure designed by Crawford. In the 1980s or 1990s, the house was moved to a new location when Bethel Lutheran Church added a parking lot.
“(The new owner) brought it through a field while it was frozen and jacked it up and put the foundation underneath and then put the house back on the foundation,” Carpenter said.
The new location offered 5 acres of wide open space. At 3451 Hidden Hills Lane NE in Haverhill Township, the three-bedroom and four-bathroom house is northeast of the Quarry Hill Nature Center and 6 miles from Pill Hill. The house, now listed at $524,900, has not been lived in for a few years, though the heating has been maintained.
As the original construction cracked on, Crawford and Urness likely discussed elements that would function well in the home. Crawford then ensured those pieces were added to the home during his frequent visits to each property.
“I have yet to find one Crawford house that he built where the plans match what’s there,” local author and freelance architectural historian Ken Allsen told Rochester Magazine in 2018. “Harold called it the ‘might as well’ school of architecture. He’d be visiting a site and the owner would say, ‘My wife would really like to have another bathroom here or another closet here. Might as well add a bathroom here. Or might as well add a closet there.’”
With local recommendations from architect Frederick Maynard Mann, Mayo doctors and business leaders, Crawford worked on commissioned projects, renovations and additions, according to Allsen’s books “Houses on the Hill” and “Master Architect: The Life and Works of Harold Crawford.” His “greatest output” was between 1919 and 1940.
Throughout his designs, Crawford kept elements of English Tudor and Colonial styles, though Allsen notes the breadth of Crawford’s styles from craftsman to Mediterranean and Norman French.
“Mixtures of stone, brick and half timbering over stucco merged in exteriors to afford a cozy, yet formal face to the street,” Allsen wrote.
With 4,874 square feet, Carpenter said the Haverhill home’s unique elements pop in lots of “nooks and crannies.” A clay tile roof tops the home along with an outdoor deck, a breezeway between the home and three-car garage, exterior steps, and a circular driveway. The shared driveway wraps around a fountain, which Carpenter said needs some work to get working again.
“It’s a stucco exterior, it looks like it would be sitting on a beach in Miami somewhere,” Carpenter said. “You can walk out from all three of the bedrooms onto a balcony that faces a different side of the house.”
Along with original oak hardwood floors, the balconies are a “charming touch,” Allsen wrote, with wrought iron railings that fit with the little stretches of white fence in the front yard.
While Crawford made his “mark on the city of Rochester” through many home designs, including about 50 houses on Pill Hill, he shared a “far greater range.” He designed the 1932 Rochester Post Office, the 1936 Rochester Public Library, and schools, churches, creameries, and businesses in Southeast Minnesota.
“He was a good friend,” Allsen said of his esteemed friend. “That’s one thing that gets overlooked about Harold — people talk about his houses, but sometimes they forget what a good person he was.”
The good neighbors at the Haverhill Township home also add to the beauty of the wooded and secluded property.
“It’s one of the more unique homes I’ve seen,” Carpenter said.