Historic Buildings Being Documented in Minneapolis

Minneapolis planners are hoping to finish a 10-year-long citywide update of historic sites and places this year. It is the first survey of its kind since the 1970s.

Some may think historic preservation saves buildings that were sites of historic events or are associated with famous people. But there's more to it than that. Other things can come into consideration, such as a collection of relatively intact homes from a specific period as few as thirty years ago.

One example is the Mereen-Johnson Machine Co. on Lyndale Avenue N. near Shingle Creek. Its a a 1906 brick factory that curves along a railroad track. The woodworking machine fabricator is a remnant of the sawmill industry that once proliferated in Minneapolis near the Mississippi River.

A property's importance also depends on how much integrity it retains from the period of its significance. Moving a property, substantially altering it or making it unrecognizable would work against its significance.

Newer areas of the city didn't get as much attention in the 1970s survey. That gives surveyors the first chance to weigh in on significant features. For example, last year in the Nokomis area a collection of mid-20th-century churches was "uncovered."

To find the structures, surveyors scrutinize old maps and property records. Then they drive the streets to confirm or disprove the information and to look for unexpected treasures. Then another survey of the more promising properties or areas is conducted, followed by field research, record searches and the creation of files on each property or area.

With owner cooperation, some properties may go on become designated as locally or nationally significant. City planners set priorities to help determine which priorities are targeted. Records on some properties may linger in files for years, serving as a resource if someone seeks a demolition permit on the property.

Designation isn't...

Get to NOMI - Valentine's Day Home Tour in Minneapolis

Twin Cities house hunters may not know that there is affordable housing as well as plenty of parks, new restaurants and other amenities to be found in north Minneapolis' Camden and Northeast communities. A group of residents has been working to change that perception by starting a grass-roots neighborhood campaign called Get to NOMI to attract prospective buyers by promoting the area's positive attributes. NOMI stands for North Minneapolis.

Joel Breeggemann, co-founder of Get to NOMI and a home owner in the Webber-Camden neighborhood, says "We want to show people that these neighborhoods are just as desirable as others in Minneapolis and St. Paul."

The group has organized a Valentine's Day, self-guided tour of 20 houses currently on the market in several north Minneapolis neighborhoods. The homes are a mix of foreclosures and owner-occupied residences that range in price from $99,000 to $249,000.

"It's a perfect opportunity to scoop up deals that are still available," Breeggemann said.

The homes are available for the tour from Noon to 3 p.m. on February 14. There is also a "Meet and Greet" being held before the tour where interested buyers can talk to residents. That is taking place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the 42nd Avenue Station coffee shop, 4171 Lyndale Av. N. This is also the location to pick up tour maps.


Related Links

August Events in the Twin Cities

August is a swinging month in the Twin Cities when it comes to community celebrations, festivals, and other excuses to walk around in shorts and eat "Something on a Stick." There's lots to do, starting with today!

New Brighton's annual summer Stockyard Days are taking place on August 2 through 9. The event, now in its 29th year, features a golf tournament, a kiddie parade and grand parade, street dances, and fireworks. For a complete list of times and locations for all Stockyard Days activities, go to and click on "events."

Lake Hiawatha’s Annual Neighborhood Festival is taking place today, Wednesday, August 5 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Lake Hiawatha Park, 2701 E. 44th Street in Minneapolis. There will be a talent show with prizes, carnival games, food for sale, and community information tables.

There will be some Outdoor Puppet Theater on Thursday, August 6, from  6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Folwell Park, 1615 Dowling Avenue N. in Minneapolis. "The Adventures of Katie Tomatie" will be presented by Open Eye Theatre with live music.

LYNAS Summerfest takes place on Thursday, August 6, from 5:30 p.m to 9p.m. at Lynnhurst Park, 1345 Minnehaha Pkwy. W. in Minneapolis. As always, the annual event will be a fun evening for the whole family with food, games, music and more.

The 36th Annual Longfellow Cornfeed occurs on Thursday, August 6, from 5:30 p.m to 8 p.m. at Longfellow Park, 3435 36th Ave. S. in Minneapolis. Join in for an evening of fun, food, and entertainment perfect for the entire family! Enjoy hot, delicious corn on the cob, live family-friendly entertainment, hair and face painting, fair style concessions, large inflatable attractions, community information tables, and much more!

The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board is partnering with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts...

Greening Minnesota - June / July

The regular Greening Minnesota feature was interrupted in June because we were moving over to the new website. But that doesn't mean that the collection of green stories stopped. This month's edition includes stories from and for June and July 2009. This is in some-what chronological order for when the stories were published.

Four creative containers for recycleables (and only recycleables) were unveiled in Mears Park. The Lowertown park is the third location to take part in an experiment by St. Paul and Eureka Recycling to see whether "public space recycling" can be cost effective and help the environment. People can recycle aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles. If you see them, make sure you don't put garbage in them! That can take away from  some of the benefits. St. Paul has set a goal to be waste free by 2020.

Speaking of recycling, you probably know places where you can recycle electronics and cellphones in Minneapolis and St. Paul. But what about electronic chargers? A recent article by the Star Tribune answers that question for you.

Cub Foods and Supervalu have announced that a Cub store has become the first grocer in Minnesota to be awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold NC2.2 Certification. The Cub store, located in the Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul, is one of three grocery stores in the nation to successfully achieve LEED Gold Certification. Check out the link to read all about the store's green technology, including its 44 skylights that illuminate 75 percent of regularly occupied spaces using a solar powered GPS system that tracks and redirects sunlight as needed.

Workers have given the Target Center some of its first patches of green. Once completed, the $5.3 million, 2 1/2 acre project will be the fifth-largest green roof in the United States. It will prevent an estimated 3.68 million gallons of rainwater annually from draining into the Mississippi River. It is the...

Minneapolis Parks in July

In Minneapolis, there are lots of free or inexpensive events happening people of all age ranges can enjoy this summer.

A Summer Festival is happening at Brackett Park, 2728 39th Ave South, Tuesday, July 14, from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be clowns, face-painting, a  moonwalk, magician, hot dogs, chips, and drinks. The cost is $2 per person, per $10 family. The After Sunset Shadow Puppet Show begins, fittingly, after sunset and features 3 short stories of shadow puppetry. See fairy tales, legends and experimentation in shadow, “a fusion of traditional Chinese and American shadow play.”

Also on Tuesday, July 14, there is an Ice Cream Social from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Kenwood Park at 2101 Franklin Ave. W. It says that it’s free? That might mean free ice cream, but the information wasn’t specific.

The Phillips Club Youthline is celebrating its One Year Anniversary on Wednesday, July 15, from 6 to8 p.m. at 2323 11th Ave. S. there will be a music DJ, double Dutch rope jumping, face painting, ice cream, dancing, henna and food. Call 612-370-4946 for details.

Jumpin’ Jiggawatts! “Back to the Future” will be the free outdoor movie playing at Longfellow Park, 3435 36th Ave. S, on Thursday, July 16, from 9 to 10:30 p.m.  The movie starts at dusk and it is a good idea to bring some blankets, a lawn chair, and maybe a snack. Popcorn and refreshments are available for a fee.

Sponsored by the East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association, Rosefest is taking place on Saturday, July 18, from noon until 8:00 p.m. at Lyndale Farmstead Park, 3900 Bryant Ave. S. There will be inflatable rides, carnival games, pony rides, dunk tank, live music, information booths, classic auto show, puppet theater, and hula hooping. It’s free to attend, but there are fees for food and activities.

There is Music and Movies in the Park on...

Greening Minnesota - May

Because there are so many great environmentally friendly things going on in Minnesota, we like to do these little green updates on the Barker & Hedges blog. May's is inspired by Arbor Day. Okay, if you're up on your earth-friendly observances, you know that Arbor Day is celebrated nationally in April. But this year, some different things have been happening in Minneapolis, I'll get right into explaining it.

First, since last month's Greening Minnesota was so early in the month, I didn't get the chance to tell you about how the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) received the 2009 Celebration Award from the Arbor Day Foundation. The national award is given each year to recognize the community organization whose Arbor Day celebration best represents the spirit of the tree planting holiday. MPRB was acknowledged for its 2008 Arbor Day celebration, “125 Trees for 125 Years” which commemorated the board’s 125th anniversary with the planting of 125 trees just south of Kenwood Park.

Next, the MPRB will celebrate Arbor Day 2009 next week on Wednesday, May 20, at Waite Park and Waite Park Community School, located at 1800 34th Avenue NE. This is because Minneapolis is one of 13 cities chosen to participate in the national Trees for Success campaign. Sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation and The Home Depot Foundation, Trees for Success and other tree-planting events engage the community, raising awareness of the environmental, economic and health impact that trees have in their community. Over 500 students and staff will plant 100 new trees in 17 different species throughout the park and the school.

Gardening isn't just about beautiful foliage, the soil where the roots grow is where everything starts. The Longfellow Gardens in Minnehaha Park will literally be a testing ground for organic turf management by the Horticulture Division of the MPRB. The ongoing project will look at the implications of organic gardening for the long-term...

Minneapolis Near North Community Highlights

The Near North Community can be found on the north and west side of Minneapolis. It is bordered to the south by Bassett’s creek, to the west by Penn Avenue, to the north by Lowry Avenue North, and to the east by I-94, Lyndale Avenue North and the Mississippi River.  Contained within it are six smaller neighborhoods.

Hawthorne - The Hawthorne neighborhood is in the northeast corner of the Near North community in Minneapolis. The neighborhood is bounded by the Mississippi River on the east and Emerson Avenue on the west; Broadway Avenue is the southern extent and Lowry Avenue is the neighborhood’s northern boundary.  The Hawthorne neighborhood is named after the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne, born in 1804. The Hawthorne neighborhood is also the home of Farview Park, the oldest park of Minneapolis, the Nellie Stone Johnson School, and the Orvin Olson Park near the Mississippi River. Home to nearly 6,000 residents, Hawthorne is nearly twice the size of most other Minneapolis neighborhoods. Hawthorne is mostly residential, with many single-family houses. There are some multi-family dwellings available. 

Jordan – West of Hawthorne is where one can find the Jordan neighborhood.  Jordan is bound on the north by Lowry Avenue North, on the east by Emerson Avenue North, on the south and west by West Broadway Avenue. It gets its name from a neighborhood junior high school, which was built in 1922 and named after Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Emeritus Charles Morison Jordan.

Jordan is mainly a residential neighborhood. Home prices in the Jordan area are well below the Minneapolis median price for single and multi family homes.  Jordan homes are about evenly divided between rental and owner occupied housing. With a population of nearly 10,000, Jordan is one of the city's largest active neighborhoods...

Minneapolis Southwest Community Highlights

The Southwest Community of Minneapolis consists of several neighborhoods loosely bordered on the north by 36th Street and on the east by Interstate 35W, with city limits serving as western and southern boundaries. 

Linden Hills – In the northwest corner of Southwest Minneapolis is the upscale, well-developed Linden Hills neighborhood.  Linden Hills is bound on the north by 36th Street West and Lake Calhoun, on the east by William Berry Drive and Lake Harriet, on the south by 47th Street West, and on the west by France Avenue.  Linden Hills is one of the larger neighborhoods in Minneapolis. The neighborhood was named after the linden trees and rolling hills that can be found in the area.

Linden Hills first was developed during the 1880s to lure homebuyers into leave downtown for homes on Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet. Since that time, most of the original cottages have been replaced by a number of home types, like ramblers, colonials, Tudors, and bungalows. The Lake Harriet-Como Streetcar line passes through the neighborhood between Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun.

Often referred to as “a small town in the City,” Linden Hills has excellent housing opportunities, interesting boutique shops, unique restaurants, and a variety of parks with many amenities.  The Linden Hills shopping district can be found at 43rd & Upton, offering an eclectic mix of shopping and eating venues which can’t be found any where else. The Linden Hills Co-op offers grocery alternatives and Great Harvest Bread Company has been a landmark in the community for years.  Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun are an easy walk from nearly anywhere within the neighborhood. The lakes provide a variety of activities, like swimming, sailing, and walking or biking ride along paths that connect to the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway.

East Harriet – To the east of Linden Hills, one will...

Minneapolis Parks are in Bloom!

This is one of the best times to visit Minneapolis’ popular public display gardens.  They are planted throughout the park system for education and enjoyment of Twin Cities’ residents and park visitors, in addition to their obvious beauty.   Maintained through the efforts of MPRB staff and volunteers, the garden displays range from traditional roses to native prairie grasses.  Admission to all gardens is free and they are open from dawn to dusk seven days a week.

In addition to an arboretum, the Lyndale Park Rose Garden complex has four gardens.  It is located at 4124 Roseway Road in southwest Minneapolis. 

  • Rose Garden – This 1.5-acre plot is actually the second oldest public rose garden in the U.S., visitors can enjoy the color and fragrance of thousands of roses, the “Queen of Flowers.”
  • Peace (Rock) Garden – Hardy alpine plants and dwarf conifers are featured in this 2-acre garden. It also showcases peace stones from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, and the Spirit of Peace sculpture.
  • Annual-Perennial Garden – Look for a wide variety of annuals and perennials blooming in these gardens, which are located on 1-acre between the Phelps and Heffelfinger fountains.
  • Perennial Trial Garden, Hummingbird & Butterfly Garden – The garden is one of five perennial trial gardens in the state. Plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies can be seen in another section of the border.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Lyndale Park Garden on the northeast corner of Lake Harriet. It’s in full bloom just in time for the centennial celebration, which will occur on Sunday, July 27.

But wait!  There’s more! 

The Loring Park Garden of the Seasons adds a splash of color to...

Minneapolis and Saint Paul Parks Are Tops

According to a newly released report from the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, Saint Paul and Minneapolis parks are ranked at or near the top in the country.  This report is just confirming what we’ve already known around here for a while:  The Minneapolis and St. Paul park systems are a cut above the rest! 

When it comes to the amount of land dedicated to parks, 16.6 percent of Minneapolis is parkland, first among cities with immediate-high population densities. St. Paul came in at second in the same density category with 14.7 percent.

The Trust for Public Land reports the following ranks for Minneapolis and Saint Paul when compared to a total of 60 of America’s largest cities:

  • Recreation centers per 20,000 residents: St. Paul, 1st, 3.0; Minneapolis, 2nd, 2.6.
  • Tennis courts per 10,000 residents: Minneapolis, 1st, 4.9; St. Paul, tied for 3rd, 3.7.
  • Ball diamonds per 10,000 residents: St. Paul, 1st, 5.6; Minneapolis, 2nd, 5.3.
  • Skateboard parks per 100,000 residents: Minneapolis, 3rd, 1.6; St. Paul, 16th, 0.7.
  • Park-related spending per resident: St. Paul, 3rd, $224; Minneapolis, 8th, $151.
  • Non-seasonal municipal park employees per 1,000 residents: Minneapolis , 5th, 1.56; St. Paul, 14th, 1.08.

The Twin Cities communities also landed one of its park destinations among the most visited in the nation. The Lake Harriet/Lyndale Park area in Minneapolis receives about 2.25 million visitors a year, placing it 30th.

Finally, Saint Paul was also mentioned in the report as having one of the oldest parks in the nation.  Rice Park was first dedicated 1849.  For those who are interested, the oldest existing park in the nation is Boston Common in Boston, Mass.