What happens when you mix 160 tons of concrete with remnants of an old Liberty ship? You get this earth-sheltered house in Denmark Township, MN. The structure has its own lighthouse on a scenic bend in the Mississippi River.
“We had a lot of nautical blood in our bodies,” says owner Mecca Page of herself and her late husband. They built the earth-sheltered home in 1982 and added the lighthouse and a 2,400-square-foot guesthouse and three-car garage in 1998.
The home is priced at $ 475,000, and the listing agent is Carol Toner at Coldwell Banker Burnet.
When the couple set out to build a guesthouse, local zoning required the structure be connected to the main house. So her husband, who had been in the Merchant Marine, decided to build a lighthouse to connect his earth-sheltered home.
The lighthouse is equipped with lens from a World War II–era Liberty ship, and light fixtures from the ship are placed throughout the house.
The guesthouse has a loft that fits a bed, a bedroom, and a bathroom. It also sports a deck on its second level. The property has three decks in all, offering treetop views of the river. Railroad tracks separate the property from the river, however, so there is no water access. The 4.9-acre property requires little maintenance; the landscaping features natural perennials and trees, and there’s no grass to mow.
“For people who are looking for that perfect nearby cabin, it’s a 30-minute drive to the Twin Cities and the airport,” Page explains. “So, it’s a perfect weekend getaway.”
The main home, which measures 1,800 square feet, has one bedroom and one-and-a-half baths. It’s so well insulated by concrete and earth that Page needs only a wood-burning stove and two cords of wood for heat during the winter.
Page explains that her husband had worked in the nuclear energy industry and was conscientious about their energy usage. “He designed it so we could leave it in a Minnesota winter without any heat at all” when they were away, she says. Page is running a natural gas line to the house should the new owners decide to install gas heating. The guesthouse is heated by propane.
Another plus for the eco-minded: The roof of the main house, which is topped with 3 feet of dirt, has two raised garden beds where Page grew vegetables. “The whole property was designed to be able to function as self-sustaining, as much as possible,” Page says.