The brass firehouse bell from the early 1900s still hangs on the wall of Kim Ballard’s Minneapolis condo, but the fire trucks and fire pole are long gone.
“The bell clangs when someone rings the front doorbell,” she said.
It’s just one of the remnants from a century ago when the 1906 solid-brick building functioned as Minneapolis Fire Station 23 on Hennepin Avenue South near 35th St. until it was converted into Station 23 Lofts in 1991.
Ballard’s 3,547-square-foot condo was renovated by the first owner, who combined two units to create one spacious, one-of-a-kind home. It’s now on the market $1.125 million.
“We always wanted to live in a commercial building with the big open loft spaces you see in the movies,” said Ballard, who bought the condo with her husband, Bob Ballard, in 2015 for $796,000.
The raw exposed-brick walls, rafters and graceful arched transom windows give the condo character, while the modern-day features make the spaces comfortable.
“The architecture is a like a piece of art,” said Kim. “We can’t believe how cool it is.”
The boutique condo building holds four units, and the Ballards’ home has three bedrooms and three bathrooms — all with showers. The couple park their cars in two stalls that once housed massive fire trucks.
You may have driven by the building’s distinct triple-arched front doorways facing Hennepin Avenue.
Beyond the front entry is a huge two-story foyer. “We call it the lobby,” said Kim.
A giant skylight in the center atrium draws light deep into the spaces.
“I lay in bed at night and can see the moon and stars through the skylight,” she said.
The loft has 12-foot-high ceilings and flexible spaces spread over three levels to be designated for whatever use the owner wants.
Kim, who is an artist, has carved out an art studio on the main level. She’s also a musician and has converted the lower level soundproof media room into a music room for her drums.
The interiors are a modern black-white-and-gray color scheme, juxtaposed with the 100-year-old brick and maple floors.
“The brick is blonde — so it’s easy to decorate around,” said Kim.
The living spaces are on the upper level, and include a great room, dining room and kitchen. A European ceramic wood-burning fireplace creates warm intimacy in the wide open floor plan.
The contemporary kitchen’s monumental granite-topped island is 6-by-8 feet and holds a built-in Wolf cooktop.
One of the condo’s most valuable asset is all the storage space, added Kim.
The couple also doubled the size of their balcony on the side of the building to create more room for dining al fresco.
Station 23 Lofts is in the ECCO neighborhood, and walkable to Uptown with its restaurants, movie theaters, shopping and Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun). The park-like Lakewood Cemetery is at the end of the block.
Bob retired this year, and the couple plans to downsize in Minnesota and upsize in Arizona, said Kim.
But they’ll miss the buzzing urban hive in Uptown and around the city lakes.
“We consider ourselves city mice and love all the activity around us,” she said.
Bobby Kroog, BRIX Real Estate, 612-799-7902, has the listing .