I have always admired the work of Henry Ingham, a native of Knaresborough, Yorkshire, and one of Minneapolis’s “Big Three” master builders. But I never thought about visiting Knaresborough until I met a woman from Durham, England, on a 2014 trip to Norway. “Oh, you must visit Knaresborough,” she exclaimed. “It’s one of the most historic, quaint, and beautiful cities in North Yorkshire.” And so, last spring I planned a visit. (For a brief bio of Ingham, see http://healyproject.org/more-hauntings-houses-built-by-henry-ingham/).
In July I flew into Manchester, then took the train to Knaresborough, changing trains in Leeds. The train pulled into the charming old station, and I crossed the tracks and started up the very steep hill to my B&B. I had hoped to meet with local architectural historians, but my inquiries from the ‘States weren’t answered. However, as luck would have it, as I walked around town later that afternoon looking for Wellington Street, the 1861 and 1871 addresses of the Ingham family, I came upon some locals having a brew outside the pub. One of them kindly took me to the home of David Druett, a local historian who lives just around the corner from Wellington Street. From him I learned that only a few of the old houses on Wellington Street remain. It’s likely that the Inghams’ residences at #69 and #110 on that street were demolished for a post-WWII government housing project. Druett said that the three remaining old houses are workers’ houses from the 1840s, constructed cheaply (for that time), with relatively thin walls.
It was a disappointment to find the two Ingham residences gone, along with most of old Wellington Street, so I turned my attention to what does remain in Knaresborough. What kind of influences on Ingham’s designs might I find?
Needless to say, the history of Knaresborough, an old market town, goes way back into antiquity. The first recorded mention of Knaresborough is in the Domesday Book, 1086. The Normans built a fortified castle on the bluff overlooking the River Nidd in the 1100s. The ruins of the 14th century castle, built by King Edward II, still remain. The castle was not ravaged by time, however, but by the Parliamentarians during the (English) Civil War. In 1648 demolition of the Royalists’ castle complex began. It would have been totally wrecked if the townspeople hadn’t petitioned to leave the King’s Tower remaining for use as a prison.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries Knaresborough’s economic base was the textile industry. The linen mill on the river began operating in 1791. “The structure might previously have been used as a paper mill, and adapted to new use shortly after November 1790 when a new water wheel was planned. Castle Mills was converted to flax spinning for linen in 1811 and Walton and Company leased it in 1847 for yarn spinning and power loom weaving, which took place in other buildings on the site. Linen production ceased in 1972 and Walton left the site in 1984.” [–from the designation of the Castle Mill building as a listed historic site].
Yorkshire was an industrial area throughout the Victorian period, known for its textile mills (linen, cotton, wool) large and small. In keeping with its new prosperity and importance, Yorkshire’s civic and institutional buildings were designed to impress. They’re massive and imposing, built of durable brick or stone.
While many pre-1900 cottages and houses were demolished during periods of “urban removal” through the centuries, many remain. Of course, I was primarily interested in the buildings from the mid- to late-nineteenth century. Knaresborough’s Victorian houses have primarily stone or stucco exteriors. I discovered that some of the remaining mid-century buildings are embellished with the Neo-Classical ornaments that Ingham loved.
Here are some photos of typical Victorian buildings in Knaresborough:
This is just a guess, but young Henry Ingham must have seen that there were not many opportunities for making a career as a master carpenter or builder of wood frame houses in North Yorkshire. Sometime between 1871 and Thomas Ingham’s death in 1881, the family moved to the industrial city of Bradford, West Yorkshire. Armed with his certification as a master carpenter and joiner, in 1883 Henry Ingham, accompanied by his brother Alfred, lit off for the prairie boom town of Minneapolis. There in 1884 the Inghams built their first house at 3020 First Avenue South (wrecked in 1963 for freeway construction, as were so many of Healy’s houses).
In 1890, Henry began designing and building houses on his own, and Alfred’s name disappears from the building permits. In his long career, 1884-1913, Henry built over 120 structures, including houses, apartment buildings, barns, and architect-designed residences. The interiors of his houses show exquisite craftsmanship in the millwork and cabinetry; the exteriors have a classical, understated grace. Yorkshire’s loss was Minnesota’s gain. In turn-of-the-century Minneapolis, master carpenter-builder Henry Ingham found his métier.
Many thanks to Kathy Kullberg and Ezra Gray for researching the Ingham family in Yorkshire. Thanks also to David Druett for giving me a glimpse into Victorian Knaresborough.
Ingham building research by Anders Christensen.
Photos without source noted are by Trilby Busch. Please credit if you reuse.
The Healy Project is planning a tour of Ingham houses in the not-too-distant future. Watch this blog for notices.
Henry Ingham was a master builder contemporary with T.P. Healy. Originally from Knaresborough, Yorkshire, Ingham arrived in Minneapolis armed with royal certification as a master carpenter. He began building two years before Healy, in 1884, and was active until 1933. To date, researchers have found 144 structures with Ingham’s name on the building permits (similar to Healy’s output). Along with fellow Englishman Henry Parsons, Ingham and Healy make up the “Big Three” of Minneapolis master builders. Unlike Healy, Ingham is known primarily not for his design skills, but for his exquisite craftsmanship as a carpenter. One of his houses has built-in hardwood cabinets and drawers in every closet, including those used by the servants.
It should come as no surprise that I’ve heard stories about haunted Ingham houses. Here are a few I’ve collected over the years:
Occupants of a house built by Ingham and used as a mixed-use office/residence told stories of footsteps sounding in the halls and staircase at night, and lights in the kitchen going off and on when no one was in the room. One resident, “Doug,” said that he had heard the back door open and shut several times in the middle of the night, but when he went out to investigate, no one was inside or outside. None of the tenants much liked going into a dark, small room off the kitchen, and they used it solely as a storage area. Formerly a rooming house and previous to that, a boarding house, the house has had many residents over the years. Apparently at least one of the departed former tenants has chosen to hang around.
Several blocks away is a single-family Ingham house that has had at least one revenant put in an appearance or two. The family w ho lived there in the ’70s and ’80s told me a number of stories about their paranormal experiences at the house. When “Karen” and “Dave” moved in, even though they liked the house, they frequently got the feeling that the house wasn’t completely theirs, as if someone else’s presence still persisted in certain rooms. One night Karen and a friend came to the house, entering through the back door. The rest of the family wasn’t at home, and for a while the two women puttered around in the kitchen, reluctant to leave it. Finally, the friend remarked, “Don’t you feel like running through the house, looking under the beds?” The friends shared a laugh, but then both admitted that they strongly felt a presence in the house and were not eager to leave the kitchen. After a while, this feeling passed, and they ventured into the parlor without incident.
The couple’s daughter, who was three at the time they moved in, quickly acquired the unorthodox habit of leaving her room in the middle of the night to sleep in the hallway. She continued this practice two or three times a week for several years, yet could not explain why she felt the need to leave her room. One night, Karen decided to sleep in the daughter’s room and see what, if anything, would happen. She was awakened by the disturbing impression of hearing a hell-and-brimstone sermon delivered by a male voice. The disembodied voice, like that of a sidewalk evangelist, harangued an invisible audience about sin and perdition.
“Dave” also had a curious experience. He was working in the backyard when a strange old man carrying a violin case appeared at the gate. Pointing to the window of their son’s bedroom at the back of the house, the man said that he had lived in that room for nearly 25 years. He had stopped by because he had recently been having recurring dreams about being in the house. He did not know why this was happening, only that it had become a regular, unsettling occurrence.
Their son had an encounter with the ghost, but only once. As he was coming out of his room one morning, he saw a misty figure emerge from the bathroom, turn to look at him, and disappear into his sister’s room. The apparition was that of a middle-aged man, his mousy brown hair wet as though he had just washed it. Was this ghost and the unseen hellfire evangelist one and the same? They never did find out.
Across town multiple residents of another Ingham house have felt the presence of the ghost of a little boy. “Mike” lived in the large house for a while. Many years before he moved in, a mother and her two-year-old son were brutally murdered in an arson fire in the house next door. Mike knew this but his partner “Ron” did not. Therefore, Mike was surprised when Ron told him that he frequently felt the presence of a small boy, but Ron never actually saw the child. Mike was pretty freaked out when Ron said that the boy would often crawl under their bed.
After Mike and Ron moved out, their friend “Jon” rented the house. Jon, like Ron, knew nothing of the fire that had killed the woman and boy. He worked out of the house as a massage therapist. One woman client, after coming back for several sessions in the house, asked Jon if he was aware that the house was haunted. He said that he did not and asked her who the ghost was. “A little boy,” she replied.
Mike had another strange experience with the house. Mike and Ron brought their cat Midnight with them when they moved into the house on Halloween a decade ago (a foreshadowing of paranormal developments?). However, when they moved out, the cat refused to leave with them. He would run away from their new place and go back to the Ingham house. Their friend Jon, a cat lover with a cat named Tom, was now occupying the house. They assumed that Midnight just liked Jon and Tom better than he did Mike and Ron. But a while later, Jon and Tom moved out of the Ingham house and moved in with Mike and Ron, leaving the house vacant.
Nobody lived at their former home, and nobody was there to take care of Midnight. Yet the cat continued to run away and go back to that house. Midnight had lived many places. He had not lived in the house for very long, so what was his attachment to the place? As Mike was friends with the owner and had keys, he finally just let Midnight into the vacant house and would go over to feed him. Midnight now had the Ingham house all to himself. But why did he want to live in this large, empty house alone? After Mike told a friend about the cat’s puzzling behavior, she replied, “Well, maybe Midnight is not alone in that house.” This suggestion gave Mike goosebumps. He now believes that Midnight has become the little boy ghost’s cat. Midnight still lives there to this day with the current residents–including the child’s spirit?
The last story involves an Ingham house that was wrecked to put in Mueller Park in the Wedge neighborhood. One of the tenants, “Jen,” who occupied the upper unit just prior to the house’s demolition told me that she heard inexplicable footfalls. On several occasions, sometimes at night, sometimes during the day, she heard what sounded like someone walking up the staircase to the second floor. When she looked out into the stairwell, no one was there. Her roommate also reported hearing the footsteps, too, when he was alone in the apartment. Jen also occasionally felt like she was not alone in the apartment, although she could see or hear nothing out of the ordinary.
I’ve kept the other addresses anonymous because these days homeowners fear would-be ghost investigators showing up on their doorsteps more than they fear being made fun of for telling such stories. However, since this house is gone and no building replaced it, I can give the address: 2510 Bryant Ave. S., built 1898. At midnight on Halloween, perhaps you’d like to venture over to Mueller Park to where the house once stood and listen for ghostly footsteps ascending a ghostly staircase. Or perhaps it’s best just to sit at home and raise a toast to the spirits and wonder. . ..
- Yesterday upon the stair
- I met a man who wasn’t there
- He wasn’t there again today
- I wish, I wish he’d go away
- When I came home last night at three
- The man was waiting there for me
- But when I looked around the hall
- I couldn’t see him there at all!
- –from “Antigonish” by William Hughes Mearns 1899
I’ve collected dozens and dozens of ghost stories since my first article, “Enter Ghost”, was published in the Wedge neighborhood newspaper in October of 1978. I’ve collected stories of haunted houses, museums, hospitals, ships, highways, barns, churches, schools, theaters–you name it. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear about your experience.
On Saturday, October 3rd, a beautiful fall day, 26 people walked around the north end of Lowry Hill East. Guided by Anders Christensen, Ezra Gray, and Sean Ryan, they looked at buildings by T,P. Healy and other master builders and architects.
At the end of the tour, they viewed the interior of a restored house designed and built by Healy in 1899. Ironically, forty years ago, this house was bought by Healy Project board member Nathaniel Forbes, who undertook some of the initial restoration projects.
Here is Anders’ introduction to the tour, giving background information about the builders and their houses:
“Theron Potter Healy is Minneapolis’s most famous builder. He was a master builder, coming from a time before academically trained architects. He was a real estate developer, a house designer (often referred to as an architect), and a general contractor, all in one.
Why is he our most famous?
First, Healy was prolific: nearly 200 buildings in a twenty year time span–commercial buildings, our first YWCA, apartment buildings, barns, carriage houses, auto sheds, and all those marvelous houses. The three largest concentrations are in Central (the Healy Block), Lowry Hill, and here in Lowry Hill East/the Wedge. He built for many of the most prominent families; he built for virtually every leading architect, he built in 13 Minneapolis neighborhoods.
Second, since his rediscovery in 1978, he was nicknamed “King of the Queen Anne” by Trilby Busch. The Queen Anne style is what we think of when we talk about a “Victorian” house. We will see some of Healy’s Queen Annes in the North Wedge. The Queen Anne house is romantic, fanciful, curved, ornamented–pre-modern. It reached its peak in 1892.
The Crash of 1893 was the second worst financial panic in American history. It came about because of Wall Street speculation in railroads. Everybody wanted to be a Vanderbilt. The Columbian Exposition of 1893, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, was centered around the White City emphasized Neo-Classical architecture. The State Buildings presented a variety of American colonial models. After 1893, the Queen Anne was out of date.
The Queen Anne did not come back into favor until the late 1960s and 1970s. They were cheap, center city, a repudiation of ’50’s modernity, and adored by gay men.
Third, T. P. Healy’s personal story is compelling. Born in Round Hill, Nova Scotia. His family’s business was the Healy Woodworking Company. Healy did not work in the family business. He made his way to Halifax where he was a merchant and ship owner transporting hardware up and down the New England and Canadian Maritime coast.
His fortune sank with his two ships. The age of the wooden ship was coming to an end. His wife’s health suffered from the cold, damp climate. In 1883 he took his family (wife Mary Ann and eight children–Lena, Alice, Charles, Dora, Erena, Reginald, Birdie May, and Bessie) to Bismarck, Dakota Territories to build schools, houses, and tenements with his older brother Anderson Healy. In 1885, they came to Minneapolis with one additional child, Henry Chester. Healy was forty-one years. He was starting over in a new city. Twenty-one years later in February of 1906, he died of a heart attack while out for an evening stroll. He was sixty-one years old.
On our tour we are going to see a number of houses designed and built by T. P. Healy. We are also going to see the works of three other master builders–Henry Ingham, Henry Parson, and P. C. Richardson, as well as houses designed by such Minneapolis architects as the Orff brothers George and Fremont, Harry Wild Jones, William Kenyon, Edward Stebbins, Walter Keith, James McLeod, Clarence Johnston, William Channing Whitney, Edgar Joralemon, Warren Dunnell, Frederick Clarke, Septimus Bowler, Christopher Boehme, Victor Cordella, Lowell Lamoreaux, Frederick Kees, and Joseph Haley.
This tour has three themes:
1. History is stratified. There is not just one past, there are many layers of the past. Understanding our history is important because it helps to orient us.
2. Almost all old buildings are capable of restoration. We will see many examples of this on our tour. We can see beyond condition to understand what once was and to envision what is possible.
3. In Minneapolis, many fine old buildings have been lost by our failure to adaptively reuse them. It is a failure of imagination and political will. It is also the result of a municipal political system corrupted by the financial influence of real estate developers.”