Huge home includes a pool, theater, basketball court, and cave-like wine cellar.
Not many homeowners can say they built the same house twice. Mike and Kathy Viola can. In 2007, the couple built a large “European country casual” home on 2.5 acres in Prior Lake overlooking the Credit River basin.
Just three weeks before they planned to move in, lightning struck the house, and it burned to the ground. Undeterred, the Violas rebuilt the exact same house with one important change — they added 18 lightning rods to the roof.
“We were the first house in the neighborhood, and it was an open field,” said Mike, although now other homes have filled in around them.
The 8,865-square-foot house has an Old World air, from its 4-inch-thick walnut castle-esque front door to its four fireplaces, all surrounded by stone or brick.
But the house is also packed with 21st-century amenities, including a theater with sound-absorbing walls, fabric panels to optimize sound and electronic chairs that go into full recline position.
Downstairs, there’s also a climate-controlled 600-bottle wine cellar, with custom racking. The flooring is made of pavers salvaged from vintage St. Paul buildings, and the ceiling is “designed and finished to look like a cave, even painted to look damp,” Mike said.