As the railroad expanded westward, so did many of the vacationers that once visited Lake Minnetonka. With the fewer amount of vacationers, lakeside summer homes became common. Among the first was the Thompson Summer Cottage.
Most likely you’ve passed this Queen Anne gem dozens of times as you’ve wound around the shoreline on County Road 15. Perhaps you’ve even been stuck right outside as you approached the westbound stoplight at county road 19 during rush hour traffic.
Charles Telford Thompson, an attorney and civil leader purchased the land from James J. Hill in 1886. A year later the cottage was built in 1887. The home was strictly used as a summer house and continues to this days. Guests originally arrived from Minneapolis by train or by streetcar boat via Excelsior. The home was accessed via the railroad and horse path that ran along the rear of the home. You couldn’t drive through the sloping front lawn until 1924, when County Road 15 was built.
The home is situated on Lafayette Bay and down the shoreline from the old Lafayette Landing, the once regular stop on the streetcar boat line in Minnetonka Beach. The front porch of the home was built so that the Thompsons and guests could observe and enjoy all the hustle and bustle of the Lafayette Club, which was originally oriented towards Lafayette Bay. Today the streetcar boat Minnehaha regularly journeys into Lafayette Bay past the Thompson House and the old Lafayette Landing.
The summer home is beautiful inside and out, due much in part to the family’s great effort to maintain and preserve it. The home has gone under extensive renovations to stabilize the front porch in 2003 and again in 2006. The renovations were featured on the PBS series Hometime.
The interior continues to be loved, cherished and enjoyed. Details such as walls fashioned from old railroad box cars and large, red brick fireplace make for the authentic, innate charm. The exterior is white with green trim and roof, and guests are still greeted by the inviting wrap around porch overlooking Lafayette Bay.
The Thompson Summer Home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. The home is still owned and enjoyed by the Thompson family.
NRHP Ref #97001652
Photo by: CJ