3119 2nd Ave. So.: Harry A. & Mae Murphy House

The most aggressively remodeled house in the district

Built: 1892
Cost estimated on building permit: $6,000

This is the twenty-third house that Healy erected in the district, built in the winter of 1891-92. The house was built immediately after the Healy family’s last home on the block, next door at 3115.

Originally, this was the home of Harry A. and Mae Murphy. For 35 years, Harry was a traveling salesman for furriers Gordon & Ferguson of St. Paul. One of their newspaper ads displayed coats made of Hudson seal, wallaby, muskrat, sea lion, scotchmole, nutria (like a muskrat), and natural squirrel.

When Harry Murphy died in 1921, the house was purchased by Thorpe Brothers Realty. They converted the house to a duplex and thoroughly “Tudorized” it in 1922 at a cost of $2,500, a considerable sum of money in those days. Thorpe Brothers owned the duplex for a decade, renting it as five room flats, upper and lower.

Because this is the most aggressively remodeled house in the Healy Block Historic District, we are left to guess as to what the original design may have been. The house may have been a reversed version of 3111 2nd Ave. So., which was built six months earlier. The hipped roof has an offset front gable. The side gables are also off-set from each other. The windows under the front gable are probably part of the 1922 remodeling, as they appear to be too large for the space. They may have replaced a lunette window, similar to the one at 3111 2nd Ave. So.

If many other Healy houses are a guide, there was probably a porch under the second-floor cantilevered soffit where the curved glass windows are. To the left, a single window was probably centered on the wall, with a corner cut-out similar to that in the Healy house at 2936 Portland Ave. So.

On the first floor, the rounded corner on the north side with its curved glass window appears to be original. There was probably a front porch. The single entry door is probably part of the 1922 remodeling.

If, as suggested above, this house was indeed a mirror image of 3111 2nd Ave. So., it is interesting to think that Healy may have designed 3111 and 3119 as “book ends” to frame his own house at 3115. Unfortunately, no historical photos of these houses have been found.

George Guthrie owned this house from 2005 to 2015. He was the sole proprietor of Guthrie Hardwood Home Flooring. Though the house was converted to a duplex in 1922, much of the interior woodwork was simply moved around to fit the new configuration. George spent a decade stripping paint from the original woodwork. He also undertook a major project on the north-side foundation. He excavated along the foundation wall, tuck-pointed the masonry, sealed the surface with tar, covered it with plastic, and back-filled with gravel to allow for drainage. Soon after he completed all this work, he sold the house.



Private Property