Preserving Architectural Splendor: The Purcell-Cutts House in Minneapolis

The Purcell-Cutts House, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a testament to the architectural innovation of the early 20th century. Designed by the renowned Prairie School architects William Gray Purcell and George Grant Elmslie, this historic residence showcases a harmonious blend of art, nature, and modern design. Now managed by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Purcell-Cutts House gives visitors a glimpse into the creativity and vision that defined the Prairie School movement. Visit this link for more information.

Prairie School Architecture:

Constructed in 1913, the Purcell-Cutts House is a prime example of Prairie School architecture, a movement that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Characterized by horizontal lines, flat or hipped roofs with broad overhanging eaves, and integration with the surrounding landscape, Prairie School architecture sought to create a harmonious relationship between the built environment and nature. The Purcell-Cutts House is celebrated for its embodiment of these principles. Read about Gliding on Ice: The Charm of Parade Ice Garden in Minneapolis here.

Architectural Innovators: Purcell and Elmslie:

William Gray Purcell and George Grant Elmslie were key figures in the Prairie School movement, working together in the architectural firm Purcell and Elmslie. The duo crafted a distinctive design philosophy emphasizing simplicity, craftsmanship, and a connection to nature. The Purcell-Cutts House stands as a collaborative masterpiece, reflecting the innovative spirit of these architects during a pivotal period in American architectural history.

Features of the Purcell-Cutts House:

The Purcell-Cutts House, now a designated National Historic Landmark, boasts numerous architectural features that exemplify the Prairie School style. The elongated design, low-pitched rooflines, and overhanging eaves show the horizontal emphasis. The extensive use of natural materials, including oak, brick, and glass, further enhances the connection with the outdoors. The house features art glass windows, intricate woodwork, and an overall open and inviting design showcasing the architects’ commitment to aesthetics and functionality.

The Original Owners: The Cutts Family:

The Cutts family – Anson and Edna Cutts initially commissioned the house. Anson Cutts was an executive with the Minnesota Milling and Manufacturing Company, and the couple sought a home that reflected their appreciation for art and modern design. The Purcell-Cutts House became a manifestation of their collaboration with Purcell and Elmslie, blending the architects’ vision with the personal style of the Cutts family.

Museum and Preservation:

In 1985, the Purcell-Cutts House was donated to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which has since taken on the responsibility of preserving and showcasing this architectural gem. The house is open to the public, offering guided tours that provide insight into the history, design, and significance of the Prairie School movement. The museum’s commitment to preservation ensures that future generations can experience the brilliance of Purcell and Elmslie’s architectural vision.

Educational Programs and Community Engagement:

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, in managing the Purcell-Cutts House, extends its commitment to education and community engagement. The museum organizes educational programs, lectures, and events that explore the legacy of Prairie School architecture and its impact on the broader context of American design. These initiatives aim to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for the historical and cultural significance of the Purcell-Cutts House within the community.


The Purcell-Cutts House in Minneapolis is a living testament to the ingenuity of Prairie School architecture and the collaborative brilliance of William Gray Purcell and George Grant Elmslie. As a preserved landmark and museum managed by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Purcell-Cutts House invites visitors to step back in time and immerse themselves in the progressive design principles that shaped the early 20th-century American architectural landscape.