Guided tours explore historic and architecturally significant local sites

Preserve Minneapolis’ 2012 tour series is underway. Over the course of the coming months, tours will provide an opportunity to explore historic and architecturally significant places in Minneapolis. On each tour, guides will tell the “stories behind the story” and give participants a greater understanding of what makes each area unique.

Among the tour destinations: the Hennepin Avenue theater district, Pioneer and Soldiers Cemetery, the mansion district of Park Avenue, Northside synagogues, Uptown, Fort Snelling, East Hennepin Avenue and Lake of the Isles. Tours cost $5 per person; proceeds are used to help fund the tour program.

Here is a list of upcoming tours. For information on the meeting place or to register, visit

Upcoming Preserve Minneapolis Tours

Uptown: Minneapolis Lakes District
Thursday, May 24
6:30 – 8 p.m.

As Minneapolis grew, the lakes began to attract people seeking relief from the central city — from day-tripping fisherman to visitors of the area’s posh resorts on the shores of Lake Calhoun. This tour will show how the accessibility of the lakes was enhanced by the Minneapolis, Lyndale and Lake Calhoun Railway, first laid in 1879, which ran from downtown to the shores of Lake Calhoun.

Midtown: A Place to Call Home
Saturday, June 2
10 – 11:30 a.m.

In the late 1870s, Minneapolis began to see a full-scale migration of Scandinavians who helped guide the pattern of urban growth of South Minneapolis, particularly around Lake Street. This tour will highlight the role that Lake Street has played historically and today as a home to the city’s new immigrants.

Cotton Tail Bicycle Trail bike ride
Monday, June 2 (rain date – June 3 - noon)
10 - 11:30 a.m.

Bike to see structures built from brick, steel panels, bronze, wood… and soft serve. Hear about architect Ralph Rapson, the Lustron Corporation and see one of the first Dairy Queens to open in Minnesota.

Loring Hill: From Farm to Fabulous
Sunday, June 3
1 – 3 p.m.

Once the hilly half of a farm, this fascinating hillside neighborhood started when Joseph and Anna Johnson platted it into large lots that were snapped up prominent Minneapolitans. Soon the glamorous houses appeared and developed into the landscape we know today. The tour will stop at homes considered for historic designation, as well as two landmark churches.

Tangletown and Minnehaha Creek
Saturday, June 9
10 a.m. – noon

Platted in the nineteenth century, the neighborhood originally known as Washburn Park is an unusual community in south Minneapolis with its winding streets and impressive homes. Now known as Tangletown, for its curving streets, the area boasts landmark sites such as the Washburn Water Tower, the Harry Wild Jones House, Washburn Memorial Orphan Asylum, and the Minnehaha Creek.

Como-Harriet Streetcar Line
Sunday, June 10
2 - 4 p.m.

Explore the abandoned and reconstructed streetcar line. The tour will include remnants of the original Twin Cities Rapid Transit streetcar line, the former Lyndale Hotel site, the Museum’s car barn, the Linden Hills business district, concluding with ice cream and a vintage streetcar ride.

Southwest Lake Harriet Parks & Residences
Wednesday, June 13
6:30 - 8 p.m.

Explore the transformation of Lake Harriet from a rural lakeside setting to the parks and neighborhoods of today. From the Beard’s Plaissance picnic shelter designed by Harry W. Jones, the tour will trace the site of the Thornton/Reeve grounds and view the present eclectic assortment of lakeside houses dating from the early to late 20th century.

Milwaukee Avenue Historic District
Saturday, June 16
10 – 11 a.m.

Milwaukee Avenue is the earliest example of a planned workers’ community in Minneapolis. Built between 1883-1895, the area attracted workers of Scandinavian and Eastern European descent, who worked for the nearby Milwaukee Railroad shops, yards, and other industries. In the early 1970s, the City of Minneapolis housing authority planned to raze 70 percent of the houses in a 35-block in the area for urban renewal. To fight this effort neighbors formed the Seward West Project Committee and created a development plan that emphasized historic preservation. That this four-block area exists today is a tribute to their moxie and might.

Architect’s Dream Home Tour
Sunday, June 17
1 - 3:30 p.m.

This tour visits some of the finest architects’ dreams come true. The tour will stop at 6 - 8 homes and walk the trails and low traffic roads between houses. Highlights include Frank Long’s Richardsonian Romanesque masterwork and the wonderful Prairie-style home of William Purcell.

Walk With Maud: Lowry Hill East
Wednesday, June 20
6:30 – 8 p.m.

Discover four of the real life homes that set the stage for Maud Hart Lovelace to write Betsy’s Wedding, the tenth novel in the beloved Betsy-Tacy series of girls books. Walk by three other homes that were occupied by her sisters and family members and enjoy the beautifully preserved 2400 block of Bryant Avenue South.

Historic Old Highland Walking Tour
Saturday, June 23
10 - 11:30 a.m.

Encompassing 30 blocks of north Minneapolis, this Victorian-era enclave is the kind of place where people fall in love first with a house, then with the neighborhood. The area, named for its location high above Bassett Creek, was largely developed during the turn of the century, when architects designed residences for well-to-do merchants operating businesses along its main thoroughfares. Today the Old Highland neighborhood features many fine Victorian homes, including one house listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Complementing this architectural era is a diverse mix of 1920s bungalows, post-Depression era housing, and early examples of urban renewal development.

27th & Lake: Industry and Transportation Infrastructure
Sunday, June 24
1:30 – 3 p.m.

Two years after the City of Minneapolis annexed the area in 1883, 27th and Lake had emerged as a center of commercial and retail activity. In 1886, the streetcar line from downtown reached Lake Street along 27th Avenue. By the end of the 1920s, nearly 80 percent of the present housing stock was built. The tour will center on the historic industrial complex at Minnehaha and Lake, the ever-evolving transportation system at the intersection of Hiawatha and Lake and the working-class communities that grew up around them.

Hennepin Avenue Theaters
Saturday, June 30
10:30 a.m. – noon

Take a walking tour of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s State, Orpheum or Pantages Theatre! Experienced guides highlight architecture and historical facts and stories about the venues that anchored the region’s “Theatre Row.” Each tour accesses the theatres’ interiors and provides a fascinating historical perspective that patrons cannot experience when attending an event

The Authentic East Hennepin Experience
Saturday, July 14
10 a.m. – 11:30

East Hennepin Avenue, originally known as Bay Street, has always served as a curious dividing line between northeast and southeast Minneapolis. Hear a brief history of St. Anthony Falls, walk the streets of East Hennepin, and hear tales of the neighborhood’s first families. Along the way you will view eight blocks of diverse architecture, building rehabilitations, and hidden neighborhood art

Marcy Holmes: Fifth Street SE. Historic District
Sunday, July 15
1 - 3 p.m.

The Fifth Street Southeast Historic District exhibits popular nineteenth century architectural styles built by influential citizens of Minneapolis. During the early years of St. Anthony and after the merge with Minneapolis in 1872, Fifth Street Southeast remained one of the finer streets of residence. Today the area contains large and small homes in a wide range of architectural styles.

Minneapolis Warehouse District
Thursday, July 19
7 - 8:30 p.m.

The North Loop Warehouse District is Minnesota’s largest commercial historic district. The North Loop area served as the city’s warehouse and wholesaling district during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, expanding when Minneapolis became a major distribution and jobbing center for the upper Midwest. Structures in the Warehouse District represent a wide range of commercial architectural styles, from Italianate and Queen Anne to Richardsonian Romanesque and Classical Revival. .

Nokomis Knoll Historic District
Saturday, July 21
10 - 11 a.m.

Charming Nokomis Knoll typifies Minneapolis residential development of the 1920s and ’30s. Nokomis Knoll embodies housing trends of the time, including architectural styles such as Tudor Revival and the inclusion of attached garages signifying an emerging car culture. The tour will highlight how cultural issues affect neighborhoods and how home improvements can be historically sensitive

North Side Synagogues and Neighborhood: Morning Tour
Sunday, July 29
10:30 a.m. – noon

This tour highlights the history and architecture of some of the gathering places of North Minneapolis’ Jewish community in the early and mid-20th century. Visit a neighborhood with three synagogues, the Emmanuel Cohen Community Center, and the Jewish Shelter Home for Children.

North Side Synagogues and Neighborhood: Afternoon Tour
Sunday, July 29
1 - 2:30 p.m.

See description above.

Historic Park Avenue: The Mansion District
Saturday, Aug. 11
10 a.m. - noon

Originally designed to be a stylish promenade of large urban estates offering oversized lots, wide boulevards, and generous setbacks, at the turn of the last century Park Avenue was ranked as one of Minneapolis’s most prestigious residential streets. The city’s business and social elite—many of whom were magnates in the then booming lumber and flour milling industries—commissioned top architects to design 35 of the city’s most opulent mansions along the 10-block “Golden Mile” between 18th and 28th Streets. By the end of the 1960s, “urban renewal,” in the form of demolition, had claimed 27 of them. Experience the remaining eight mansions up close—including some interiors—and discover those that have been lost through historic photographs and information about their famous first occupants.

Red Cedar Lane: Wm. Purcell homes
Sunday, Aug. 12
1 - 3 p.m.

Red Cedar Lane, one of the most beautiful secrets in the Twin Cities, was laid out by architect John Jager beginning in 1904. Jager planted red cedars along the street that now form a luxuriant and aromatic canopy that makes the street seem like an outdoor room. The area has Jager’s own house and several others designed by William Gray Purcell and Frederick Strauel. Tour begins with a short slide lecture to introduce these designers and their architecture.

Fort Snelling Upper Post
Tuesday, Aug. 14
6:30 - 8 p.m.

Built between 1820 and 1825, Fort Snelling served as one of several Army outposts during Euro-American settlement of the nation’s western frontier. When the frontier passed the Fort, the property was sold and stood empty between 1858 and 1861. It was pressed back into service during the Civil War, providing a base for training and equipping more than 22,000 soldiers. The fort was also a staging point for military campaigns against Indian tribes, a tragic chapter of our nation’s past. Fort Snelling grew during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to meet military needs within and outside of U.S. boundaries. After World War II, it was decommissioned and turned over to the Veterans Administration in 1946.

University of Minnesota: Old Campus Historic District
Wednesday, Aug. 15
6 – 7:30 p.m.

The University of Minnesota has had several major periods of development ranging from Horace Cleveland’s 1892 plan to Cass Gilbert’s Northrop Mall to the 1970s development of the West Bank campus. This tour will look at the campus development and buildings from the earliest years up to the 1950s

Minneapolis’ Architectural Necklace: Housing along Lake of the Isles
Saturday, Aug. 18
10 a.m. – noon

The winding eastern shoreline of Lake of the Isles displays some of Minneapolis’ most splendid residential architecture, exemplifying design talents of the region’s most influential architects.

Elliot Park and the 9th Street Historic District
Saturday, Aug. 25
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Elliot Park was one of the first residential neighborhoods in downtown Minneapolis. Visit the landmarks that make it a charming urban neighborhood, and survey the promise for new development. The Band Box Diner, 19th century brownstone row houses, North Central University, and the hospital district that has defined Elliot Park as a health sciences center will be included.

Where the Elite Met: Lowry Hill in the 1890s
Sunday, Aug. 26
1 - 3 p.m.

The Mount Curve and Groveland Terrace area in Lowry Hill was one of the first upper class neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Learn about the homes built there by the city’s rich and famous families, including the Lowrys, Glueks, Donaldsons, Partridges, and Notts. See how the neighborhood has changed since its inception in 1874.

Murder and Mayhem in Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery
Saturday, Sept. 8
10 – 11:30 a.m.

Join us for a walk through the seamier side of Minneapolis’ history at Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery. Along the way we’ll stop and pay our respects (or not) to a host of others, both casualties and criminals, who most definitely did not die peacefully in their sleep.

Historic Park Avenue: The Southern District
Saturday, Sept. 15
10 a.m. – noon

Step back in time as you take a stroll alongside ornate Queen Annes and stately Classical Revivals to discover the differences between architectural styles; admire original photographs and hear stories of the first families, prolific architects, and master builders of these fine homes; and see how this stretch of Park Avenue is being rediscovered by many drawn to its rich history, impressive housing stock, and numerous preservation and restoration efforts.



Published May 23, 2012



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