Archive for the ‘Historic News’ Category

Historic Homes Often Come with Historic Families

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Recently the Star Tribune published an interesting article about three families that live in Bloomington and were honored for their time in Minnesota.

“When Bloomington celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding earlier this year, the city recognized “Century Families” whose lineage in town stretched back 100 years or more. Three of those families were the Ponds, the Harrisons and the Pahls, whose descendants still live in Bloomington. “

They are not famous by any standards, but their founding fathers helped shape an area, that in the 1850’s, was void of anything but nature and wildlife. We often forget where we come from, how we got here, and some don’t stop to think about where they are going. But for some families, their family history is still passed down through the generations and they take pride in what their ancestors have done.

Summit Avenue Recognized as one of Best Streets in America

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Recently the American Planning Association awarded Saint Paul as having one of the Best Streets in America. Summit Avenue, as us historic home lovers know quite well, is described as:

During the late 19th century, Summit Avenue was not considered the grandest of the country’s Victorian-era residential boulevards, yet today this 4.5-mile-long boulevard between downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Mississippi River stands alone as the country’s best-preserved avenue from that period…”

Of course, we all ready know that Summit Avenue is grand and a true local treasure. But I think the Twin Cities in general is one of the best historic architectural archives in the nation. I get emails all the time from people across the country that have never seen homes like we have here…and it is so much fun showing them what makes our towns special!

The Preservation Alliance Starts Fighting for Historic Homes

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

2008 State Rehabilitation Tax Credit effort begins!

Efforts to pass a Minnesota state rehabilitation tax credit in the 2008 Session have begun. The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota convened the Tax Credit Task Force, comprised of a coalition of partners across the state, on February 8 to assess this year’s advocacy strategy in the face of a projected state budget shortfall. Additional information is needed from our legislative partners in order to develop an effective grassroots lobbying effort. For example, we are awaiting information regarding the legislative priorities at the Senate and House level, in addition to the specific direction of their respective Taxes Committees. In the interim, the Task Force elected to send a letter restating our support for passage of the state tax credit. As the Legislature convened on February 12, the letter was on its way to the chairs and members of the Taxes Committees and past authors and cosponsors of our tax credit bill. Please click on this link to read a copy of our letter: 2008 State Tax Credit Request Letter

Learn more about how to send a letter to your state Senator and Representative.

When Does History Become a Burden?

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

When you are a lover of historic homes, you can’t help but cringe anytime an old home sits and rots, or when a new owner decides to take a house down, or add on to it some horrible addition. Many communities still are behind the times and do not have a historical association to protect our historic treasures from ruin. But thankfully Minneapolis and Saint Paul have plenty of organizations that care about this buildings.

But when does this history become a burden? While there are many different examples of how homes can be burdens on a community, one burden some might not think of are historic buildings that no longer exist.

Hmmmm…but how is that possible?

The city of Excelsior is in such a dilemma. Sitting on Lake Minnetonka, Excelsior has a great downtown district, mostly because anyone can enjoy the lake view and stand at the water’s edge, without a building obstruction in the way. One of the best features is an open park, an area I have enjoyed during the summer months with my kids. But during 1904-1922, the pavilion pictured above stood near the same spot.

A developer is currently petitioning the city to allow him to reconstruct the pavilion, in the same spot it used to stand on the shoreline of Excelsior. There are many residents who do not want to lose the lake view that draws tourists to the area. For 80 years, the site has been open, and many want to keep it that way. But there are also residents of Excelsior that like the idea and think the new pavilion would add to the historic nature of the town.

But who should win? A pavilion that predates the open view park, but hasn’t been around since 1922, or the open space, which has been enjoyed by residents and visitors for 80 years? When does a historic building need to bow out gracefully and, for a better phrase, stay dead?

I guess the stand I would take on this issue would be on the side to keep the site as is. I don’t believe that it is in the publics best interest to build a new pavilion, that in this case would be used as a town hall, with some public access. No matter how great the developer can make the site, it still will be taking away an open space which can be currently be enjoyed by all. To me, the pavilion is a great part of Excelsior history, but it does not have a place in the town’s future, especially since it hasn’t been around for so long.

Could the developer be pushing the historic button of residents to get his plan approved? Maybe, but he does have a history of restoring old buildings in Excelsior. I have no doubt he has good intentions, but sometimes it is best to just leave well enough alone. His plan is putting an unfair burden on local residents, making them decide between a view they have enjoyed for a long time, or restoring a building that helped create the town itself.

The photo above is of the current view from Excelsior, looking out to Lake Minnetonka. I think I like this view much better. What do you think?

Congratulations Saint Paul!

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

We Did It!

Saint Paul has won the popular vote for HGTV’s Change the World upcoming program and will have three projects featured and completed in late April of 2008.

Now what they need is volunteers! If you would like to volunteer to help on one of the three projects, visit this website to offer your services. This is a fantastic opportunity for our community to show just what “Minnesota Nice” is all about!

Make St Paul a Winner

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

St Paul has the chance to win the opportunity for HGTV to come to town and help three local improvement projects take flight through their new television program Change the World. Start at Home. Nine cities across the country are competing for life-transforming assistance – and viewers will decide through voting. Votes can be cast through December 21 at their website.

Click here to VOTE SAINT PAUL

According to the Historic Saint Paul website :

The Saint Paul projects feature a mix of historic preservation, community, education, and environmental improvement, including:

  • Helping a deserving family with an unfinished home renovation. After her husband passed away 18 months ago, Kris Nelson’s dreams of restoring their three-story Victorian era home were put on hold. She and her two sons hope to be able to complete their home with a help from HGTV, Rebuilding Together and the National Trust for Historic Preservation;
  • Transforming the grounds of the Wilder Recreation Center/City Academy. The WPA building was designed by Saint Paul City Architect Clarence (“Cap”) Wigington, the country’s first African American municipal architect. School administrators at City Academy building teach their students the importance of giving back to the community through volunteering and caring for the environment. Without a much-needed facelift, the growth of the school and neighboring community center is stunted by space and environmental limitations;
  • Restoring and interpreting the ecological and cultural resources in the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, a Mississippi River area open space just east of downtown Saint Paul that includes remnants of our industrial and indigenous history. Though the park has come a long way since its days as a contaminated rail yard, there is still much to be done and it remains a work in progress.

So make sure to cast your vote for local historic preservation by visiting HGTV and casting your vote. You can vote once a day!