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Photography by Spacecrafting

The Pillsbury Castle has sat in the Whittier neighborhood for the last 120 years, acting as host to the many lives who have called it home. Its new owners Matthew Trettel and Ryan Hanson are now bringing the former residence of Alfred Pillsbury into the 21st century. With the help of 30 talented ASID Minnesota designers and eight NARI remodelers, the Minneapolis mansion will be restored to suit modern living in just nine months. “We’re feeling ecstatic and invigorated by this project,” says Hanson of the renovation process.

It wasn’t difficult for the couple to fall in love with the Tudor Revival home. Aside from being in the heart of the city and up the street from the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the mansion radiates historic charm. “There are very few homes that have this level of detail to them,” says Trettel. “It’s something we wanted to embrace immediately.”

Photography provided by the Pillsbury Castle Project

To achieve that level of detail and honor the castle’s past, the couple became a pair of astute historians over the last few months, carefully researching everything from historically accurate hardware to the very people who once lived there. “We want the home to look as it did when Alfred was there,” says Trettel.

The duo soon discovered the mansion’s many iterations throughout the years. The castle is what Alfred Pillsbury, son of John Pillsbury the founder of the Pillsbury Company, devoted much of his time to. Under different ownership, the property functioned as the office of Carmichael Lynch, an architecture firm and a boarding house over the years. Now, its newest stewards have their hearts set on transforming the home back to its original purpose: a place to raise a family.

Photography provided by the Pillsbury Castle Project

“For being built in 1903, it’s surprisingly open concept,” Trettel says, making it perfect for modern tastes. The main level, which separates its rooms with hidden mahogany pocket doors, will be split into the couple’s music room, living room and at-home bar for entertaining. Up the grand hand-carved oak staircase, Alfred and his wife Eleanor’s bedrooms and personal study will be renovated to create Hanson’s office, a bedroom and a playroom for their children, and a primary bedroom with a stunning view of the Minneapolis skyline.

One discovery the couple has made since owning a 120-year-old home is that some features of the property don’t quite fit the needs of contemporary living — like the cavernous basement that was once intended to store coal. The couple admits it took some creativity to figure out what to do with the space, but Alfred Pillsbury did include several hidden gems throughout the home.

Renderings by Ethan Allen, University of Minnesota College of Design, Mike Rataczak Studios and California Closets, Daybreak Interiors, and Shane Spencer Design and Abitare Design Studio

One being his personal library, which is believed to be a room built in the 17th century that was shipped over from England for the rest of the structure to be built around. The library’s plaster ceiling is replicated throughout the castle. And it doesn’t end there, a secret passageway that leads from the library to the Pillsburys’ bank vault, which once held his art collection that now lives at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, will be converted into their very own speakeasy.

While both Trettel and Hanson want to honor the mansion’s history, they decided to add a personal touch through color. Deep greens inspired by the original fireplaces, tasteful hints of deep blues and whimsical wallpaper give the castle an updated feel.

Photography provided by the Pillsbury Castle Project

Bringing their vision to life has been a whirlwind, but the dedicated team of designers and remodelers is close to completing the pair’s dream home. “Realistically, our nine-month renovation timeline should normally take three years,” says Trettel. Though the finishing touches are still being made, the couple says the castle is already starting to feel like home.

As the new stewards of the iconic abode, the couple wants the castle to be part of the Whittier neighborhood with plans to start new holiday traditions for the community and, of course, allow the public to visit this historic piece of Minneapolis. Tickets are available to tour the castle, which is featured as this year’s ASID Design Home in collaboration with NARI July 12–28.

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