Sep 18, 2017 10:58AM
● By Chris Pederson
by Chris Pederson
I drive south on Arrowhead across Highway 55. My car bumps over the train tracks as I pass by Loram heading towards Hamel Road. When I take a left on Chestnut off Willow, the asphalt turns to gravel and the dust begins to kick up as a canopy of trees steals away the late afternoon summer sun.
Upon arriving at their front door, I find a makeshift sign with an arrow on it that tells me not to use that door. The house is in full renovation mode, so T. Cody Turnquist greets me in his driveway. After introductions, he leads me around the side of the house across their newly built deck. Although the railings have yet to be installed, the deck's vista was that of a classic country scene: a pond is seated near the base of the yard with a small cornfield growing beyond it. A solid tree line drapes the background where there isn't another house in sight. Yet it was the horse fences and stables that made it Medina. Old Medina. This is where T. Cody Turnquist grew up. His grandfather built the home on 80 acres in '82 and with it, brought his horses from Missouri to populate it. T. Cody was born a few years later and his mother and father would raise him here. Now he is returning with his fiancé Meredith Foster - a country girl from West Texas - to build their own life in their own version of this family estate.
He and Meredith have been working on their renovation for nearly 2 years as of early August with only 6 weeks left to prepare it ~ they will be married on the property in mid-September. This would seem an ambitious undertaking to most, but after spending an hour with them, it’s apparent that ambition has been a close friend of theirs for quite some time.
T. Cody attended Arizona State and pursued architectural design. When he graduated in 2007 no one was hiring for architecture, so he and his business partner, worked their boat management company providing boat maintenance and cleaning. Once in awhile they'd offer charter services. One of his clients that summer was Daren Marhula, with whom he shared his architecture background. By that December, Mr. Marhula called on T. Cody to design his new Lake Minnetonka home. T. Cody seized the opportunity, creating Turnquist Design soon thereafter and obtaining a contractor's license to do it right. Upon completion, Cody’s contemporary design received recognition as the “House of the Week” in the Wall Street Journal. Since then he teamed up with his business partner to enter the residential real estate market, selling homes for Lakes Sotheby's and collaborating with BohLand Homes in Wayzata selling condos for the Regatta located on the property that was formerly the Wayzata Bay Center. Aside from selling, Cody and his partner do about 2-3 renovations per year. When Cody isn't buying, designing, renovating or selling, he enjoys sailing. A sport he's been doing across the country with his father and friends for years, he and Meredith now enjoy sailing on Thursdays in the summer. However, it wasn't sailing that brought them together at all.
The Lone Star heads North
Meredith Foster grew up on her family's West Texas farm hunting , fishing and riding horses. Hunting with both a rifle and a bow, and riding both Western and English style, Meredith certainly defines a country girl. She graduated from Oklahoma State and was working for Sandridge Energy when a recruiter from Northern Oil and Gas called hoping to reel her into northern country. She took the meeting and arrived in Minnesota to a balmy -20 degree day. It was clear a little wining and dining on some Manny's crab legs and a warm room at the W downtown was in order. She said after the interview a realtor drove her around town to look at long-term living opportunities. "They likely thought, ‘there is no way this girl is gonna move’”, Meredith jokes. Yet she took "a leap of faith" and bought a house in Minnesota before even moving up. She said she wanted to feel “all in” and convince herself that she wasn't going back; destined to put some roots down. She's worked for Northern Oil now for just over 3 years.
Slick City Life and Social Media
During her time at Northern Oil, a co-worker of hers who knew Cody suggested they meet. When others in mutual social circles reiterated this same suggestion, T. Cody finally reached out on Facebook. "Good ol' social media," he jests. "When I sent her the first message, she responded immediately." When he put out a follow up question, she went dark for 4 months. "I'm like, 'What the?!'"
Meredith had inadvertently forgotten to respond and one day pondered, "I wonder what ever happened to that T. Cody guy?" She then rechecked their Facebook exchange to discover he had responded....months ago. When she finally wrote back, "Hey to answer your question......" it would lead to them finally meeting in person at Cody's residence in May of 2013, The Walkway in Uptown. A new posh apartment building built on the ashes of the original Cowboy Slim's, The Walkway's doorman greeted Meredith and informed her that "Mr. Turnquist" was waiting for her in the bar. After their first encounter, she thought to herself, "this guy is way too city for me."
The Real Connection
However, it wouldn't take long for them to get to know one another and for Cody to invite her to experience his roots. A place where miniature horses and Belgiums were reared; where cows, goats, llamas and pretty much any other farm animal you can imagine hung out. He was a farm boy at heart, raised to work hard. Work the farm. Though, Meredith would still wind up being the one to teach him how to clean a duck. Cody bought 40 of the original 80 acres back from his family and when they ripped into the siding and other portions of the original farmhouse, they realized a lot had to be replaced structurally in addition to landscaping updates needed.
They used to harvest hay on the Turnquist farm. However, when Cody's mom and dad moved to South Carolina and leased it out to someone else, portions of the property became overgrown with weeds. Upon Cody and Meredith’s return, they learned from a Corcoran Farmer that planting corn was the best way to get rid of the weeds since corn could still grow even when sprayed with pesticides. You can spray pesticides two times per year here and planting a corn field became their strategy to cleanse the land of those weeds. Since starting the remodel 2 years, ago they've done a lot of the work themselves. "We don't do much during the weekends except remodeling and wedding planning," he says.
Meredith always told Cody that he could never surprise her, so Cody thought to himself, "I am up for the challenge.” He proposed to her on a unique 13 acre property across the street on Willow Drive where they were shooting a real estate lifestyle video. "We had drones and multiple photographers out there. We were selling the idea of ‘what it's like to come home to Medina’.” It was a perfect time to capture the proposal on video with pretty much everyone in on the secret. She was walking, and when he stopped to talk to her, Meredith thought, 'What are you doing? You're breaking character. We're filming here!' He was leading a horse when he got down on one knee. The drones buzzing overhead. "The good news was she didn't get stepped on by the horse,” he laughs. "And I wasn't even wearing any shoes,” she fires back.
"I keep telling her she can hunt out here,” Cody says. "They feel like pets,” Meredith explains. “I see the same deer walking around and I'm like, I can't shoot that.” Her parents now live in California and her brother in Northern Texas but they all still return to the original farm in West Texas for family get togethers. Her Grandma's bee farm boasts of the self-proclaimed "Best Honey in Texas." When asked what Meredith's favorite part of her new Medina home is, she states, "I love that I have chickens and a garden out back. I like the ability to have land and be a little more self-sustainable. It's close enough to everything, yet an escape."
Old Medina and New
With Cody's architectural design and contracting background, his goal is to transform this into a modern farmhouse. He says one of the best things about Medina, "is the fact that you're 10 minutes away from downtown Wayzata. Less than 20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and yet we have acreage where you can really enjoy being out here. Everything is being developed right around this area - out to Buffalo and Delano, but there is this hidden gem here. We're just lucky that we're able to take on this property that has been in the family forever.”
Cody continues, "It's going to be really interesting to see this turnover. With the amount of land out here, there is a tremendous amount of work to do. You have to love doing this, otherwise there is just no reason. What's fun is to see people buy places that can be torn down or renovated. The heart of Medina is all about having land and the opportunity to have horses and utilize the land for hunting or riding. Hopefully we can still bring people in that appreciate that. The new owner of the house I just sold on Willow is moving to Medina because of that. But I also know people that have moved out to Medina and want nothing to do with horses but still cherish the fact that trails are still open on their land and people can still access that because they have the core values of Medina."
Given the explosive growth happening with young families moving into new subdivisions on small acreage lots on the northern side of Medina, it can be easy for many to overlook the deep rural character and charm our city is rooted in. Yet through stories like this, we can find comfort in knowing the torch of old Medina tradition is being carried on; further creating local ties to ensure Medina's core values remain intact for generations to come.