See more of the story

Despite a last-ditch effort to save it, a landmark historic mansion on Lake Minnetonka was demolished on Tuesday.

The city of Orono issued a demolition permit this month for Southways, the massive brick and stone Pillsbury estate that has been seeking a buyer for more than a decade.

A member of the Lake Minnetonka Fan Club, Leone Akins McGlone, said she was on the lake about 4 p.m. and saw dust filling the air on Bracketts Point. "What a sad day. Two huge cranes working both sides of the house. Within seconds, only the chimney was standing," she wrote.

The estate, originally built as a summer house for John S. and Eleanor Pillsbury and their six children, has seen its price slashed several times in recent years. When listed in 2007 at $53.5 million, it was the most expensive house in Minnesota. After it failed to attract a buyer, the price was reduced to $24 million. Still no takers.

Woodbury resident Tim George, who has breathed new life into three endangered Twin Cities properties and turned them into stylish venues for weddings and other events, was hoping to do the same for Southways.

George had approached the Orono City Council about a last-ditch effort to save the mansion but it apparently didn't go anywhere.

Recently, the original 13-acre site was subdivided into five homesites. The 32,461-square-foot house and its remaining 3.3 acres and 415 feet of prime shoreline on Brown's Bay was relisted at $7.9 million.

The mansion was extensively renovated by owners James and Mary Jundt, who now live in Scottsdale, Ariz., according to Hennepin County property records. James Jundt, a former hedge fund manager and onetime Minnesota Vikings co-owner, bought the mansion in 1992 after Eleanor Pillsbury died at age 104. Jundt then invested years in a multimillion-dollar renovation that included converting the house for year-round use.