SPRINGVILLE — It’s in the Crystal Creek development in rural Springville, in the rolling and sometimes wooded countryside that’s accented occasionally by a meandering creek. The house description is a “single family residence.” It could, though, accommodate a plethora of relatives at 15,422 square feet.
The one-story Stone City stone house sits behind behind stone pillars and a decorative iron gate crowning the 22.66 acre estate, planted with 1,000 trees for beauty, ecology and privacy and a manicured lawn sedate but vibrant in its emerald green.
Behind the house, are softly rippling waters of a pond, with spear-like woods across it, the trees’ pencil-thin trunks perfect fodder for an impressionistic water color.
Inside, the house is spacious, but not cavernous . Elegant, but livable. Lovely, without a “hands-off” aura. It is luxurious in the most refined sense, and practical, being entirely handicap accessible. Tasteful furnishings and décor feature the antique, the contemporary, the family, the classic. Earth tones mimic nature outside. Granite and solid cherry wood abound.
Linda Mordaunt and her late husband, Dick, built the house between 2000 and 2002.
“We wanted to stay here 12 months a year and have everything right here,” Linda Mondaunt says. “I like to swim so we thought we’d have a pool, and in Iowa, to have it inside. We wanted to have a handicap accessible home that we could enjoy the rest of our lives. Everything major is on the first floor. The house was everything we needed and something we just wanted.”
Cancer interrupted the couple’s well-thought out plans. Dick died of pancreatic cancer at age 66 in 2007. The home’s handicap accessible capability served them well in this early illness.
Linda came to a hard decision, though: To sell the house. Sale price is $2,900,000 with most furnishings.
It’s big for one person and a dog and, Linda says by phone from Florida while visiting her daugher.
“The house needs a family, it needs children.”
The couple shared a love of the outdoors. Dick was raised in small Nevada, Iowa, where he often hunted. Linda loved the land where her mother’s family had a Century Farm near Zearing, a farm which she and her siblings still own.
Her dad became publisher of the Iowa City Press-Citizen, then president of that paper’s parent company, Speidel Newspapers, which eventually merged with Gannett Co., Inc., where he was on the board before retiring. Dick went on to become an insurance adjuster with Pekin Insurance of Illinois.
The couple spent two years driving around county roads in Linn, Iowa, and Jones counties, looking for the ideal property encased in nature. They eventually found it near this town of around 1,100.
The home demonstrates the couple’s unswerving devotion to quality and detail.
“We gave it lots of love and care,” Linda, now 71, says. “At our age we had stayed in many places before and knew what we wanted to do someday.”
But it was not a museum they were seeking to create.
“We wanted to build a house that was actually lived in,” she says. “(Dick’s) mother had been very particular about who came in the house. He said ‘I want my friends to come in with their muddy boots and hunting clothes, have a cup of coffee and relax.’
“So that’s what we did.”
That said, it’s still a little more than the rustic “Home Sweet Home.”
Spacious seems like an anemic word to describe the rooms that unfurl before you like a roll of silk, one after another. At the end of an 86 1/2–foot granite and marble hallway, you come to Linda’s delight: a three-story “pool pavilion” encapsulated in cedar with a vaulted skylight, and complete with a 42-foot pool, sauna, hot tub, granite bar and small kitchen. Underfoot in the 60-foot pavilion is concrete that’s stamped to resemble flagstone.
There’s not a bad view from any of the multitude of Pella windows on each level. Each is reminiscent of a diorama, with pond or woods or landscaping framed by the windows in each room.
And the rooms are plentiful: great room, dining room, three kitchens (main floor, lower rec room and pool pavilion), sunroom, media room, recreation room, office/computer room, master bedroom suite, two guest suites, pool pavilion, two laundry rooms, mudroom – and seven bathrooms (four full- and three half-baths). Other stand-out features include the foyer’s custom-designed granite and marble floor, two Stone City stone fireplaces, and a cherry-paneled elevator.
For all that space, Linda has a cleaning service every other week.
The house’s quality is reflected in its rich beauty. All the woodwork, doors and cabinetry are solid cherry, with the exception of the main kitchen. Numerous floors are granite with marble insets; others are porcelain tile (more durable than ceramic tile), and carpet. Flooring is all radiant heated underneath, including the four garage stalls, garage aprons and front walkway.
Linda went her own decorating way.
Regardless of today’s wood floor trend, she chose a lot of granite and ceramic tile and notably, carpet in the great room (64 feet by 36 1/2 feet); recreation room (37 feet by-33 feet), and the three generous bedroom suites. She also made ample use of wallpaper and complementing faux painting.
The ceilings are one of the home’s most arresting features. There are coved ceilings, coffered, tray, vault, angled and graduated. Beneath, intriguing objets d’art accent every room.
Independent living can be achieved on the first floor, but the elevator descends to the lower level recreation room, pool and two guest suites, which have sitting rooms, double-vanity bathrooms and walk-in showers.
It’s the kitchen that is the crown jewel in this diadem of rooms. Commercially-sized and equipped, the dream kitchen is “gourmet” with a capital “G.”
Consider the size of 29 1/2 feet by 23 feet not including a 13-foot-by-4-foot eat-in area, overlooking the placid pond, woods and deck. There are two handsome 10-foot granite islands, with a GE Monogram cooktop in one, and a Kohler ProCook sink. There are three sinks in the kitchen (one triple, two with pot-filler faucets); five Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawers; two Sub-Zero refrigerators and freezer drawers, two dacor wall ovens, a warming drawer and a GE microwave.
“I like to cook,” says Linda.
Cabinets are glazed maple with distressed glass fronts. Large appliances match. Drawers glide silkily on their metal slides. One side of the kitchen is a crescent-shaped granite bar area that looks into the great room, with comfy upholstered bar stools on that side.
The Mordaunts entertained a lot, and made generous use of the sophisticated dining room, with its long smoked glass table. The couple also hosted numerous parties in the friendly neighborhood, with barbecues around a fire pit and potlucks.
Other features in the almost three-million-dollar home include systems such as central vacuum, audio, whole house monitoring, irrigation and security with additional front gate security.
The house was designed by Chuck Bruggeman of Bruggeman Design Group and built by Jeff State of then Stately Homes. Jeff O’Brien of Focal Point Interiors in Hiawatha was the decorator; he also created the handsome free-hand design of the foyer floor.
The Mordaunts have two children, Kate, 41, of Lakewood Ranch, Fla., and a son, Chris, 44, of Chicago, both single.
“We enjoyed the house immensely when Dick was alive,” says Linda. “It was a true delight, so much fun to entertain in. I never regretted building it.”