See more of the story

Almost 150 years ago, not long after Excelsior became the first community founded on Lake Minnetonka, horticulturist A.W. Latham acquired some acreage and planted an orchard. There he grew apples, grapes and the raspberries that now bear his name.

He also built a house, a gabled Victorian that is registered as an Excelsior Heritage Preservation landmark. Now fully restored, the home, which sits on one of the largest lots in town, is on the market for $972,000.

Current owner Nancy Wessling fell in love with the quaint dwelling when she first saw it seven years ago. “It oozes character and charm,” she said. “I love porches, and it has two, on the north and south. If the south porch is too hot, the north porch is just right.”

The setting, almost a full acre with towering trees, is serene. “You feel like you’re in a park,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like you’re anywhere near a town. But it’s a five-minute walk to downtown Excelsior.”

Inside, the house has many of its original features, including “nooks and crannies” and built-in cabinets with glass doors, she said. But there also have been many upgrades, including new windows and a two-story addition that created space for a new kitchen, mudroom and master suite.

The kitchen is now in the same spot as Latham’s original “summer kitchen” for canning fruit, Wessling said. Only now it’s finished with creamy white cabinets, black granite countertops and salvaged vintage leaded-glass windows.

Wessling and her husband, Mark, added enhancements of their own, including built-in bookshelves in the family room. “I’m a librarian. I can’t not be surrounded by books,” she said. They also added a Finnish Tulikivi soapstone fireplace. “It’s so cozy.”

Now the Wesslings are selling the home to move closer to family. “I’m sad to go,” Nancy said. “It was my dream house.” She’ll miss the views in all directions, the big yard and having tea parties with her granddaughters in the formal dining room. “I’ll always cherish those memories. I feel so lucky to have lived there.”

The home offers rare privacy in the heart of Excelsior, said real estate agent Paul Johnson of Lakes Sotheby’s. “It’s perched up on the second highest elevation in Excelsior, drenched with sunlight. You feel like you’re in a secret garden.”

The combination of vintage charm and modern amenities is seamless, Johnson added. “It’s been updated so it functions the way people want today, but with character and uniqueness you can’t find in new construction.”

There’s also an unusual amount of storage for a 19th-century home. “The whole lower level is unfinished, open and bright — not like a dungeon basement,” Johnson said. There’s also storage space above the three-car garage.

And there’s a pool — with patio and lush landscaping — for outdoor entertaining.

Paul Johnson, 952-212-7103, Lakes Sotheby’s, has the listing.