Minnesota Architecture: Winona’s Huff-Lamberton House

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Interested in buying a beautiful home rich with history?

Today’s nomination for our “Celebrating Minnesota Architecture” series happens to be for sale, at the recently reduced price of $995,000.

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Photo courtesy John Finn

Here’s Winona resident John Finn’s nomination:

I nominate Winona’s Huff-Lamberton Home that’s centrally located at the edge of downtown. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a local historic landmark. The current owners, a local nursing home that used to operate the property as an assisted living facility, have maintained the structure and grounds with a level of care befitting its status as one of Winona’s architectural treasures.

The house, brightly lit at sunrise and sunset, is visible from our living room windows. The large landscaped lawns offer abundant opportunities for our dog to chase rabbits. Besides the architectural features and landscape vistas that benefit the neighborhood, the property now serves as somewhat of a deterrent to MnDOT’s plans for locating a major highway interchange around it.

The house has been for sale for the past few years with no serious offers because the current zoning limits its use for anything other than the previous assisted living apartments or for three family residences. A zoning change was recently denied due to the wide variety of possible permitted uses that were deemed incompatible with the nature of the surrounding neighborhood and adjacent city park. Since the owners won’t be able to afford its upkeep indefinitely, the future of the property is uncertain.

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Photo courtesy John Finn

You can find the listing for the property here, which includes several interior shots of the home. Here’s the Preservation Directory’s information on the property:

The Historic Huff / Lamberton home was originally built by Charles Huff, who platted the city of Winona. Building it of brick and stone with 16″ walls, he felt it needed to be strong and enduring like the town he helped to found. It was built over a period of two years with the best materials available and the most skilled craftsmen. Charles was the founder of the Huff House hotel. 15 years later it was purchased by the Lamberton family, prominent bankers and lawyers, who continued to improve the property, adding electricity, central heating, elevator, and eventually, air conditioning. Bas-relief decorations for the music room were imported from France and from Czechoslovakia came hand-cut crystal chandeliers. After Mrs. Lamberton died in the mid-1950′s, the home became an orphanage for a time and then an assisted living facility. It is an imposing structure with a prominent tower, carriage house and ornate porch, another addition by the Lambertons. Set on a 1.5 acre parcel across from a beautiful city park in the center of town, it is considered one of Winona’s historic jewels.

To read an editorial by Mark Peterson, executive director of the Winona County Historical Society, about the sale of the house, click here.

Many thanks to John Finn for his nomination. Interested in nominating a building in your neighborhood or town? Just send a photo with your explanation of why you’re nominating it to me at mcombs@mpr.org.

  • Suzanne Rhees

    This would be an easy problem to solve if the city were willing to consider an office-residential zoning classification designed specifically for this site. Possible uses might include a small inn, office, event center, or even… several residential units in the existing structure.