MINNETONKA — The Frank Lloyd Wright Jr. home in Minnetonka called Birdwing — facing demolition due to a multi-home development — has been saved and is being moved to Polymath Park in Acme, Pennsylvania, according to Tom Papinashak, CEO of the park.

At the same time, the Birdsong multi-home development planned for the property took a step forward as the Minnetonka City Council unanimously approved the final plat for the project at its Sept. 16 meeting.

Moving the home

Polymath Park is home to two Frank Lloyd Wright homes preserved alongside two homes designed by American architect Peter Berndtson.

Papinshak learned of the fate of Birdwing after news of the Birdsong development reached the media and he rushed to see if he could preserve the home, he told Lakeshore Weekly News.

Zehnder Homes, the Birdsong project developer, donated the home to Polymath Park, according to Eric Zehnder. He said Papinshak contacted him in early August and they started drawing up the paperwork so the group could begin deconstructing the home as soon as possible.

“We are very happy to have the house preserved,” Zehnder told Lakeshore Weekly News.

Papinshak calls the process to deconstruct the home “architectural surgery.” It’s a very tedious process as the builders remove all materials integral to the design of the home, pack them away and move them across the country to where the home will be reconstructed.

Normally, this process would take months, but this time they had weeks to complete the process to keep up with the developer’s schedule, Papinshak noted.

The home will be reconstructed in Polymath Park. Papinshak doesn’t have a timeline as to when this will happen — his current focus is getting the home from Minnetonka to Pennsylvania.

Some aspects of the home will be changed to reflect the original design of the home, he said. As people have lived in the home since it was designed, some of the original features have been changed — one being the color scheme of the home. These will be changed back when rebuilt.

The home will be 99% authentic to the visual eye, Papinshak noted.

The approval

The Minnetonka City Council approved the preliminary plat at its Aug. 26 meeting after hearing from developer Eric Zehnder and neighbor to the Birdsong property Lindsey Arthur.

A preliminary plat is a detailed graphic of the project with property boundaries, easements and all land use, streets, utilities and drainage.

Several City Council members expressed regret that the property would be developed but said they would vote yes because the project did meet all Minnetonka laws.

“It’s conforming because we have ordinances that have been passed by this City Council in the past,” Mayor Brad Wiersum said during the Aug. 26 City Council meeting. “Will I say that our ordinance book is perfect? Or that it doesn’t need to change over time? No, I’m not going to say that at all but we are a nation of laws and if we don’t uphold the laws because they don’t make us feel good, we’re not doing our jobs. So for the laws on the books, this conforms.”

At the Sept. 16 Minnetonka City Council meeting, the development’s final plat was approved. A final plat is a survey description for each lot in the plat and the document filed with the county.

Zehnder told Lakeshore Weekly News before the Sept. 16 meeting if the final plat was approved, construction on the first Birdsong property would start as soon as this week.

Frances Stevenson is a reporter for the Lakeshore Weekly News, covering the communities around Lake Minnetonka.


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