ROCHESTER, Minn. — Sometimes it’s more than a house’s location, curb appeal or number of bedrooms that attracts interest.
Sometimes it’s the tunnels under the house.
A real estate listing to sell the Plummer pump house, near the historic Plummer House in Rochester, Minn., sparked intense interest this week, as well as a tweet on the real estate voyeur account @zillowgonewild. It's listed by Edina Realty Realtors Julie Glass-Yares and Michael Korby from the Twin Cities.
Within minutes of the listing being made public, @zillowgonewild tweeted, “You never really know what’s happening in a home,” with photos of the English Tudor-style cottage that dates back to the 1920s. However, it wasn’t the photos of the quaint old stone exterior or wooden floors inside that spurred real estate fans to "oooh" and "aaahh."
It was the old tunnels under what was originally a pump house for Dr. Henry and Daisy Plummer’s nearby house. The cottage later became the home of the caretaker for the Plummer property.
"It’s a special property. It's definitely unique," said Glass-Yares.
An open house is scheduled for the property from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Hardhats and lights will be furnished to tour the tunnels.
The tunnels or caves under the house are a bit of a mystery.
The main passageway carved from the cave is about 220 feet long, with a sidewalk up the middle and a lighted ceiling. It is 18 feet wide and more than 8 feet high. Shorter bisecting tunnels to the right and left of the main tunnel may have been used to store wine and vegetables.
Some say the caves may have pre-dated the construction of the pump house. One theory is that the caves may have been a beer storage area used by the Old Centennial, an early Rochester tavern that stood nearby.
Gertrude Plummer once said that her father, Dr. Plummer, wanted to raise mushrooms in the tunnel. However, the industrious doctor, who was a key figure in the early growth of Mayo Clinic, never found the time. Korby said carriage horses were reportedly stabled in the caves at one point.
While the nearby main Plummer property is owned by the City of Rochester as a historic site, the caretaker house has been bought and sold as a private home since 1972.
The listing price for the 3,000-square-foot cottage is $550,000, which includes the tunnels.