Washburn-Fair Oaks Historic District design guidelines update

We're creating new design guidelines for the Washburn-Fair Oaks Historic District. Read about the process and see an update.


Alfred F. Pillsbury House


The City of Minneapolis is updating the 1976 design guidelines for the Washburn-Fair Oaks Historic District.

  • We received a federal grant and hired Pigeon Consulting and TEN x TEN to:
    • Lead community engagement
    • Draft new design guidelines
  • Design guidelines help ensure that the historic district retains its historic character. They affect changes to:
    • Buildings
    • Structures
    • Landscapes

The district includes:

  • Early 20th century buildings designed by master architects
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art campus

Period of significance

From 2021 to 2022, a consultant team researched and updated the inventory of properties in the district.


  • The district’s period of significance is 1863 to 1939.
  • Properties built during this period are contributing.
  • Properties built, significantly changed, or moved after this period are non-contributing.

Individual inventory forms are available upon request.

Read about the period of significance and inventory


Design guidelines process

  • In the spring of 2023, we asked people to share feedback in community meetings and focus groups. Thank you for taking part in these meetings.
  • The consultant team completed a draft in June 2023, and public comments were submitted and reviewed in July.
  • Staff reviewed and edited the document and presented it to the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) on November 28, 2023, for discussion. 
  • The Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office reviewed the draft.
  • The HPC adopted the updated design guidelines in a public hearing on June 18, 2024.

View the updated draft design guidelines and a map of the district

Photo: William Washburn’s Fair Oaks Estate, circa 1890, courtesy of Hennepin County Library’s Special Collections department.

Washburn-Fair Oaks Historic District 1890

Community feedback

We held the following focus groups and community meetings in the spring of 2023:

  • Focus group #1 on March 6, 2023
  • Focus group #2 on March 13, 2023
  • Community meeting #1 on March 25, 2023
  • Focus group #3 on March 29, 2023
  • Community meeting #2 on April 29, 2023

Read notes from the focus groups and community meetings

Contact us

John Smoley

Community Planning & Economic Development (CPED)




Public Service Building
505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 320
Minneapolis, MN 55415