Several years ago, I worked at the Bakken Museum, doing PR and events. As you might imagine (for those of you familiar with this curious building on the southwestern shore of Lake Calhoun), it was a strange and wonderful edifice to work in. Designed by architect Carl Gage and completed in 1930, it was originally a private residence called West Winds. The house was built for William Goodfellow, whose money came, in part, from the sale of a dry goods store to George Dayton. In 1976, the building was purchased by Earl Bakken, co-founder of Medtronic, to house the Bakken library and museum. The mansion combines English Tudor, European Gothic Revival, and other architectural styles, and had 15 rooms, and 11 bathrooms in its first iteration.
Legend has it that Goodfellow built the home to impress a love interest and, as such, spared no expense when outfitting the home. Similar to today’s emphasis on kitchens and bathrooms, Goodfellow installed handmade tile throughout one of the second floor bathrooms, and in another area on this level.
The tile Goodfellow and Gage chose for these areas was created by Ernest A. Batchelder of Pasadena, California who, in addition to creating tiles, was also a leader in the American Arts and Crafts Movement. Batchelder moved to Pasadena in the early 1900s to teach, and later became the director of the art department at Throop Polytechnic Institute, which later became the California Institute of Technology. In 1909, he built a kiln, and began creating his legacy: handcrafted art tiles. The tiles appealed to a huge audience, and were installed in homes and buildings across the United States, including the lovely estate on Lake Calhoun.
Images of Batchelder tiles in Minneapolis are exceedingly difficult to find; above are a few samples of his work in other locations.
While I’ve been unable to find public images of the tiles inside the Bakken (and the bathroom, located inside the administrative area of the building, is inaccessible to visitors), Bathelder tiles are found in several buildings in Minneapolis that are open to the public. The sites, as listed by the Handmade Tile Association:
- Bakken Library and Museum, 3537 Zenith Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55416. 612-926-3878: Batchelder floor tile located on 2nd floor of museum, and Batchelder bathroom.
- Cathedral Church of St. Mark (Episcopal), 510 Oak Grove St., Minneapolis, MN 55403: Batchelder tiles in the chancel & choir. Hewitt & Brown, ca. 1910.
- Handicraft Guild Building, 89 South 10th St., Minneapolis, MN 55403: Tiles and entryway c. 1914. Ernest Batchelder taught design in summer school 1905-1909.
- Scott Hall, University of Minnesota, 72 Pleasant Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455: Batchelder tiles representing music are part of a frieze inside the entrance. Built 1921-23 as the University Music Hall. Architect: Clarence H. Johnston, Sr.
Licensed Associate Working with Sharlene Hensrud of RE/MAX Results, and HomesMSP — Sharlene, John, Angela