Alfred F. Pillsbury was the only son of Pillsbury Co. founder John S. Pillsbury. Alfred was never excited about the family flour-milling business, however. According to local historians, he instead devoted his time to collecting art. With a particular fondness for ancient Asian art, he amassed a huge collection of Chinese bronzes, jade and porcelain during his lifetime. Pillsbury was also a stamp collector, owned the first high-wheeled bicycle, and one of the first three cars in the City of Minneapolis.
By the time Alfred died in 1950, he had amassed an estate of $6 million. He left his art collections to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The 900 pieces Pillsbury bequest to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts still form the core of the MIA's ancient Chinese, Islamic pottery and Chinese Qing period porcelain collections.
The English Gothic home in which he lived hasn’t been so greatly revered. It can still be located at 116 22nd Street East in the Washburn-Fair Oaks Mansion District of the Powderhorn community of Minneapolis
. The three-story, 8342 square-foot house was built of local Platteville limestone. It was converted into a series of offices and later a boarding house. In 15 years, it changed hands four times.
Now with the loving hands of new owners Uri and Melissa Camarena, the Alfred Pillsbury mansion has been renovated and updated. In keeping with its previous owner’s interests (and lets face it, the artistic nature of the Minneapolis – Saint Paul area in general), this private home moonlights as an arts venue. About once each month, the Camarena’s open their home to host fundraisers for nonprofit arts organizations. They've also converted the former maids' quarters into a gallery to promote emerging artists.
The Camarena’s put a lot of work into the home. You can read more about their experience with the Alfred F. Pillsbury Mansion in this Star Tribune article.