This unusual 'floating' house in Minnesota can be yours for $750,000

The three-bedroom, three-bathroom Duluth home features vaulted ceilings, an indoor pool, natural woodwork, a fireplace and oodles of built-ins, shag carpeting with carpets and vanities to match.

Man outside a house.
Owner Peter Gesell talks about the 63-year-old Erickson House on Tuesday. The 2,452-square-foot structure, suspended over a creek in Duluth’s Congdon neighborhood, is for sale.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — From the street, Peter Gessel’s house looks like any other, but nearing the door is another story. The concrete driveway extends to a walkway suspended in air.

Gessel’s “floating” home and its steel scaffolding supports are firmly planted in Duluth's Congdon Park neighborhood.

Man standing inside house.
Owner Peter Gesell stands near the Erickson House’s kitchen Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

The balcony juts out into the treetops, and the backyard is made up of a rocky trench along the creek.

“The only lawn is the boulevard, and as you can see I don’t mow that ever,” Gessel said.

Gessel’s home, listed for sale at $750,000, will be featured in the Duluth Preservation Alliance’s historic properties tour on Sunday, Sept. 18.


Deck on the backside of a house.
Mountain ash trees grow near the deck on the Erickson House, suspended 25 feet above the creek bed.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
House built over a creek.
A section of the Erickson House is built directly over a creek.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Post-WWII America saw a lot of change, which was mirrored in its domestic architecture, said Blake Romenesko of the Duluth Preservation Alliance.

For Gessel, it is a reminder of the home he grew up in. “I see myself more as a caretaker, less as an owner,” he said.

Gessel bought the house at 3328 E. Superior St. in 2005.

The three-bedroom, three-bathroom home features vaulted ceilings, an indoor pool, natural woodwork, a fireplace and oodles of built-ins, shag carpeting with carpets and vanities to match. The foyer’s vertical brick extends out to the exterior wall.

Two-sided fireplace.
A two-sided fireplace in the Erickson House.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

There’s an entertaining kitchen on the main floor with a sink, stove and mini-fridge. The larger kitchen is in a side room with a full-size refrigerator.

The only set of stairs in the one-level home leads to the pool surrounded by green carpeting. Gesell said it hasn’t been filled since he bought it.

Indoor pool.
The Erickson House includes a pool below the garage.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Asked about any quirks residing above a creek, Gessel recalled the 2012 flood.

A metal light fixture
The light in the Erickson House’s entryway is contained in a metal orb.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

“It came down Superior Street, came up on the driveway and both sides of the house,” he said. While the water didn’t infiltrate the home or garage, Gessel said, “If you had fallen into the creek, you would’ve been washed into Lake Superior.”


Lewis Erickson designed and built the house on “stilts” for his wife, Gwendolyn, whose early polio diagnosis affected her legs.

With this in mind, Erickson, a professional engineer, equipped their home with a one-level, open floor plan.

At the time of its completion, the estimated value of the building was $45,000, according to the Duluth Preservation Alliance.

The house was sold by the time Lewis’ grandson, Brad, was born, but it’s still highly regarded in the family. “It’s pretty amazing it withstood all these years,” he said. “Driving by on Superior Street, you’d never know it’s on stilts.”

Man in a belt massager.
Peter Gesell demonstrates that a vintage vibrating belt massager in the house’s pool room works Tuesday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Grand piano.
A grand piano stands in a corner of the Erickson House’s living room.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Melinda Lavine is an award-winning, multidisciplinary journalist with 16 years professional experience. She joined the Duluth News Tribune in 2014, and today, she writes about the heartbeat of our community: the people.

Melinda grew up in central North Dakota, a first-generation American and the daughter of a military dad.

She earned bachelors degrees in English and Communications from the University of North Dakota in 2006, and started her career at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald that summer. She helped launch the Herald's features section, as the editor, before moving north to do the same at the DNT.

Contact her: 218-723-5346,
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