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Lois Lenroot-Ernt and Bob Ernt, knew their 1927 Tudor in Minneapolis' Lynnhurst neighborhood was a gem. What they didn't know was how exceptional one design detail was — until recently.

As they prepared to downsize and list their home of 37 years, their Realtor asked what things they loved about the home. It was easy to zoom in on details that drew them to the four-bedroom, two-bath house in the first place.

"The glass door knobs, the banister with the turn-back bannisters, the fireplace and the beautifully detailed woodwork," Lois said. They also loved the tiles on the original fireplace mantle, which featured intricately etched trees.

"I think it struck us as being something different all this time," Bob said. "But we thought nothing more of it until we started getting ready to show our house."

Their listing agent asked around and learned from a colleague that the tiles might have been designed by Ernest Batchelder, a prolific southern California artist and tilemaker who gained prominence during the Arts and Crafts movement. Batchelder's trademark square tiles depicting nature were similar to the ones in the couple's living room.

Lois discovered the Batchelder Tile Registry in Pasadena, Calif., a group dedicated to documenting the artist's works. She sent images of the tiles, which the group confirmed were Batchelder originals.

It's fortunate that the tiles were well-preserved; the house changed hands and received updates over the course of 97 years. "It's a real treasure that the tiles are in their original shape and have stood the test of time," Bob said.

He added that although they couldn't verify that all the tiles on the mantle were from Batchelder, the artist often designed and packaged tiles for an entire mantel. "His business wasn't selling individual tiles but selling assemblies of tiles. Our guess is [those other tiles] are probably Batchelder too."

Original features, modern updates

Listing agent Nora Webb said the house stands out in several other ways.

In addition to the "very exquisite details that appoint the history of this home and help make the home so special, Bob and Lois have been excellent stewards of the home, maintaining and updating it with high-quality architects and builders," Webb said.

Over the years, Lois and Bob have preserved the house's original details while making improvements ranging from updating the mechanicals to sprucing up spaces. They did their first major project in the early 2000s, when they brought in the late Minneapolis architect Lars Peterssen to revamp the kitchen.

"We asked him to design a kitchen that was more modern than what we had, but that fit in with a 1920s house," Lois said. "And we think he did that beautifully."

As part of it, they bumped out the kitchen to create more square footage, added storage and installed a bay window. "We have a round table there, and it makes it a lot more pleasant to sit and eat breakfast and look out that bay window into the backyard," Lois said.

At another time, they brought in Northrup Remodeling to refresh the primary bedroom and both bathrooms. And just a few years ago, the couple gave the family room a major makeover after gutting the space and ripping out carpeting. "We matched it with the wooden floor in the living room. Even though it's a new floor, it fits with the house, and that was really important to us," Lois said.

Going with the flow

Despite the updates, Lois and Bob said, the house was designed so well that there was no need to touch the layout.

Gathering spaces "are individual rooms, but they all flow together," Lois said. "Some of my best memories were during holidays and on birthdays where there would be multiple people in the kitchen, but then you would move into the dining room and have a great meal and then sit in the living room with the fireplace afterwards. You can move very easily in this house; it just has a real nice flow."

The couple said the next homeowners will likely enjoy the close-knit neighborhood and location just as much. When their kids were growing up, they could easily walk to nearby Burroughs Elementary and Anthony Middle schools. The family also liked that they could stroll to Minnehaha Parkway as well as shops and restaurants along 50th Street and Bryant and Penn avenues.

"It's a very walkable neighborhood," Bob said.

Nora Webb (; 612-245-9205) has the $690,000 listing.