Education Restoration Preservation

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Recent posts:

Healy Block Residential Historic District – 3137 Second Ave So: Healy-Forbes House Healy Block Residential Historic District – Architecture Healy Block Residential Historic District – an Introduction Anders Christensen Receives Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Executive Director’s Award Anders Christensen’s Remarks on Receiving Preservation Alliance of Minnesota Award Healy Project Fundraiser at the Lowbrow, May 7th Winter Party Fundraiser December 2017 Talk: Preservation Advocacy, August 17th Open House at 1300 Mount Curve Avenue East Lake of the Isles Walking Tour May 21st New Research on the “Lost” Healy Block: Tour May 7th A Presentation on Master Builders Ingham and Parsons, Saturday, March 18th. Healy Project Winter Party Henry Ingham’s Yorkshire Healy Project Fundraiser at the Lowbrow, May 9th Healy Block Historic District Tour: April 17th Healy Project Holiday Old House Reception CANCELED–Healy Block Historic District Walking Tour–November 8 More Hauntings: Houses Built by Henry Ingham Healy House Hauntings Tour Intro to the History of the North Wedge North Wedge Architectural Walking Tour, October 3rd Healy Phoenix #2 Healy Phoenix #1 Report on the Event: A Great Dinner for a Good Cause A Child’s View of T.P. Healy’s Family Big Win for Healy Block Residents: Revised I-35W Expansion Plan T.P. Healy: Farmer, Commission Merchant & Wholesale Grocer in Nova Scotia Open April 25th: Restored 1885 House in Wedge Learn from the Past, Learn from the Present Grandstanding and Stonewalling at City Hall: Trashing the Public Trust Orth House Demolition An Open Letter to Minneapolis City Council Regarding the Orth House Demolition The Truth Will Out II: More Lies That Brought Down 2320 Colfax Avenue South The Truth Will Out: Lies that Brought Down 2320 Colfax Avenue South Judge Denies Injunction against Wrecking 2320 Colfax Avenue South Poisoning the Well: Testimony about 2320 Colfax Avenue South “City Ghosts” Visit Victorian House Historic North Wedge Walking Tour: Sunday, September 7th Combining New and Old: A New Vision for the Orth House A Place That Matters Healy Project Files Suit to Stop Demolition of the Orth House Happy Earth Day, Zero-Credibility City of Minneapolis Stop Demolition: Allow a designation study for the Orth House Perverting New Urbanism II: Greenwashing Demolition Perverting New Urbanism for Fun and Profit Size Matters: Development at Franklin-Lyndale DEN$ITY: Building Utopia in Gopher City Hypocrisy at City Hall: Planning Department Scorns Sustainable Development Déjà Vu All Over Again: Threats to Healy Houses Renewed Healy Project Special Kickoff Tour Saving Private Houses In Landmark Decision, City Council Stops Demolition of 2320 Colfax Avenue South What’s the Greenest Building? Who Lives in Lowry Hill East? Revoltin’ Developments VI: What You Can Do Revoltin’ Developments V: Sappy Citizens and Maudlin Attachments Revoltin’ Developments IV: Density and City Planning Revoltin’ Developments III: Density and Livability Revoltin’ Developments II: Healy Houses in the Wedge Revoltin’ Developments, Part I Healy Descendant Acquires the Bennett-McBride House On Memorial Day Lost Healys on the Healy Block More Lost Healys The Broom House: 3111 Second Avenue South More on Round Hill Happy Birthday, T.P. The Edmund G. Babbidge House: 3120 Third Avenue South Brightening the Corner: 3101 Second Avenue South 2936 Portland Avenue The Andrew H. Adams House: 3107 Second Avenue South Clones: 2932 Park and 1425 Dupont North The J.B. Hudson House: 3127 Second Avenue South Second Healy Family Home: 3131 Second Avenue South Schlocked: ‎2639-41 Bryant Avenue South 1976 Sheridan Avenue South: Preserved Exterior The William L. Summer House, 3145 Second Avenue South Two More in the Wedge Weapon of Mass Healy Destruction: I-35W Construction The Third: Healy Builds in the Wedge The Second: 3139 Second Avenue South Healy’s First House: 3137 Second Avenue South Anders Christensen, T.P.Healy, and the Healy Project

Big Win for Healy Block Residents: Revised I-35W Expansion Plan

The Healy Block before I-35W took out the houses on the west (right) side.

The Healy Block before I-35W took out the houses on the west (right) side.

Great news for Healy’s most famous Queen Anne houses: On Monday evening, March 23rd, at a meeting held by Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis with residents of the Healy Block Historic District, the proposed sound wall was defeated by unanimous vote among those residents present. In addition, a new proposed design for the I-35W expansion was presented and approved. Monday’s win for the Block is an inspiration for the preservation community: an example of how historic district residents can triumph during a long and challenging political process.

Plans for expanding and redesigning  I-35W at the 31st Street exit have been in the works for a long time. Since the early 1990s, various plans have come and gone, representing serious threats to the Healy Block.  In their current manifestation, expansion plans were introduced more than four years ago. Negotiation and discussion between the various government entities (federal, state, county and local) and the Block residents have been going on  since then. (See post Threats to Healy Houses Renewed)  Over a year ago Block representatives met with MNDOT commissioner Charles Zelle to work out some of the issues with the design. The new design and the nixing of the sound wall represent a significant win for livability of the residents on the Block and the future preservation of these historic houses.


Dormer of 3100 Second Ave. South, on the Healy Block.

David Piehl, who owns and lives in the J.B Hudson House on the Block, explains why eliminating the sound wall from the expansion plans is important: “A wall would be ugly, and the snow storage requirements for the freeway would mean the wall would be 10 feet closer to our homes than it currently is, in addition to being 20 feet high on top of the already-high embankment. Furthermore, the improvement in noise levels was projected to be around 5 decibels, which is not nearly significant enough for us to want to make the other sacrifices the wall would require.”

After the vote on the sound wall, discussion turned to the design of the off-ramp. Residents previously selected a design with a single-lane ramp, separated from Second Avenue by a median. However, the Federal Highway Administration vetoed it as “fatally flawed” due to lack of “storage.” That left another option which was very similar, but had a two-lane ramp.

At the meeting Block residents David Piehl, Ioannis Nompelis, and Pete Holly fought hard to keep the pavement and traffic as far from the historic houses as feasible. Residents recognize that Second Avenue on the 3000-3100 blocks serves three purposes–as a residential street, an off-ramp, and frontage road.


The Healy-Rea House, 3131 Second Ave. S. on the Healy Block, Healy’s second home in Minneapolis.

On Monday project organizers presented a modified design that has the ramp starting as single lane, then widening to two. They also widened the median separating Second Avenue from the ramp to 12 feet by taking a portion of the embankment. As Piehl reports, Block residents “are OK with this because it moves green space closer to our homes and the ramp further away.  We wanted the median to be wide enough to be planted, so we can plant a visual screen between Second and the ramp, and we got that.  A visual screen will also be re-planted on the embankment.  The proposed median runs all the way to 31st Street. Second Avenue becomes a single lane with parking, but entirely separate from the ramp south of 31st. Even better, Second at 31st will be ‘right turn only’ due to adding 20 feet of boulevard space in front of the two homes on the 3000 block—which again moves traffic away from those homes, improving livability.  The ‘right turn only’ lane reduces the appeal of 2nd Ave as a ‘frontage road’.  The upshot is that Second Avenue will be a single lane residential street separated from the ramp by a 12-foot-wide, planted median.”

Porch detail, 3111 Second Ave. S., the Broom House.

Porch detail, 3111 Second Ave. S., the Broom House.

The miracle is that after four years of negotiating and fighting with the various entities involved in the I-35W expansion, residents of the Healy Block finally got nearly everything  they asked for, short of moving the ramp. As Piehl says, “It is amazing to think that they started with bringing the freeway 30 feet closer, and a massive retaining wall–and we got them to a place where the plan is an improvement over what currently exists!”

This is a truly remarkable win for preservation in Minneapolis. Thanks go to a talented city planner, Jeni Hager, who diligently designed, re-designed, and re-designed again to ensure that the current proposal satisfied residents’ aesthetic and livability concerns as well as state and federal requirements. Many thanks also to supportive City Council members Elizabeth Glidden and Alondra Cano for their leadership.  And finally, thanks and congratulations to David Piehl, Ioannis Nompelis, Pete Holly,  John Cuningham (who worked for moving the ramp) and other Block residents who persevered and made it happen.

and did!

and did!


Healy Block residents, fans of T.P. Healy, preservationists, and activists in the Central Neighborhood are celebrating the acquisition today of the famous Bennett-McBride House at 3116 Third Avenue South by Healy’s great-grandson, John Cuningham.  Cuningham, a grandson of Healy’s eldest daughter Alice, is a prominent Minneapolis architect (  Thanks to a concerted effort by the previous owners and members of the Healy Project, including Anders Christensen, Madeline Douglass, Connie Nompelis, Brian Finstad, and David Piehl, Cuningham closed on the house today. 
     This justly celebrated Queen Anne was the first Healy-built house to be recognized as a superb example of the style.  In 1977 the Bennett-McBride House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, heralding the historic designation in 1995 of the other thirteen Healy houses on that block as the Healy Block Historic District.
The building permit:
3116 Third Ave. So.                                             B25076
30 X 60 Frame dwelling                                  4-24-91/ 8-1-91
Owner:  Henry H. Bennett
Builder:                                                          Est. cost: $5,000.
       Healy’s name is not on the permit, which was taken out by the first owner, Henry Harrison Bennett, owner of the lumber yard that bore his name.  The second owner, John M. McBride, operated a grocery story at 3045 Nicollet Avenue and lived in the house until his death in 1943.  Subsequent owners have taken good care of the house, which boasts most of its original millwork inside and out.  At the rear of the house is the original barn, complete with cupola.
The north side, showing typical Healy dormer and second-story balcony.  The missing balusters on the porch were kicked out by an intoxicated manbut saved for future replacements. Amazingly, most of the exterior woodwork is original.
Detail of the front porch: the ball-and-stick fretwork and stained glass windows.
The south side, showing the barn (one of the few unchanged Healy barns still standing) and the back porch.
John Cuningham and Anders Christensen celebrate the former’s acquiring the Bennett-McBride House (house next door in background), June 28, 2012 (photo by M. Douglass)


  Note: This is a corrected version of the May 23rd posting, edited after a recent interview with Wayne Tinberg.  A new post on that interview will follow.   

The roadbed for 35W being laid in Richfield in 1960.

      The previous blog post was devoted to three Healy houses lost to freeway construction and one to changes in fashion.  So far, the entries on this blog have presented the building list of Healy houses in roughly chronological order.  
      At this point, it may be helpful to take a look specifically at all the houses wrecked for I-35W construction in 1959-60, no matter what their building date.
     According to city records, nine houses designed by T.P. Healy were built on the west side of the 3100 block of Second Ave. South.  In order of house number, they are:
3106, built in 1888 for $3,000
3108, built in 1888 for $3,000

3116 (directly across the street from the Healy family home), built in 1896 for $4,500
3120, built in 1892 for $9,000
3130, built in 1889 for $5,000
3132, built in 1889 for $5,000
3136, built in 1891 for $7,000
3140, built in 1887 for $6,000

3142, built in 1887 for $4,000

Here they are again, in order of year built:


An old photo of 3130 Second Avenue (courtesy Robert-Jan Quene). It would be interesting to find more photos of these lost Healy houses.
      One can deduce that the three pairs of houses built side-by-side in the 1880s were probably built on spec by Healy.  The house built in 1891 is apparently a much fancier house, a stone veneer dwelling costing $7,000.  The one from the next year, 1892, a brownstone, is fancier yet, erected for the princely sum of $9,000.

The most famous resident of that block was Richard W. Sears,  co-founder of the Sears and Roebuck Company.      

According to the Sears company archives:
Richard Warren Sears was born December 7, 1863, in Stewartville, Minn. Although Sears’ father was at one time fairly prosperous, he lost all of his money—about $50,000—in a failed stock-farm venture. 
Consequently, at a young age, Richard Sears found it necessary to work in order to help support the family. Working as a station agent for the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad, Sears looked to supplement his income. In 1886, he found an ideal solution when a local jeweler refused a consignment of watches. Sears asked the manufacturer’s permission to try to sell the watches. Permission was granted, and soon he had sold all of them to fellow agents.

Within six months, Richard Sears’ watch business escalated so much that he resigned from the railroad in 1886 and moved to Minneapolis, where he could devote full time to his growing mail-order enterprise, which he founded that year as the R.W. Sears Watch Company. He was only 22 years old.
Sears joined forces with watch repairman Alvah C. Roebuck in 1887 and then with key financier and future president and chairman Julius Rosenwald in 1895. The headquarters of Sears, Roebuck and Co. had been established in Chicago in 1893.
In 1908, poor health forced Richard Sears to retire from active participation in his company, which had grown to annual sales of $40 million. He died six years later. 
     The chronology of Sears’ rise is interesting.  When Sears bought 3132 from Healy in 1889, the latter was only 26 years old.  By then, Sears had partnered with Roebuck and set up the company that bore their names (today, only Sears’ name remains). 
“If you buy a good watch you will always be satisfied, and at our prices a good watch will influence the sale of another good watch; and that’s our motto: “Make a Watch,Sell a Watch.” (Richard Sears in 1892)
     Wayne Tinberg, who bought the Healy-built house at 3124 Third Avenue South in 1959, told Madeline Douglass that the homeowners on that block used to celebrate Healy’s birthday each year–hence the hastily-organized birthday celebration behind Healy’s family home at 3115 this year.  It is remarkable that even many years after Healy’s death, the people who lived in the houses he built on Second Avenue remembered and celebrated his work.  
      The “urban removal” of the 1950s and ’60s changed all that and brought many Victorian houses into the clutches of slumlords or in front of the paths of bulldozers.  The revival begun in the ’70s with the designation of the Healy block to the historic register continues today, through fits and starts, enduring ups and downs.  But sadly, for many houses in Central Minneapolis, the danger from bulldozers, slumlords, and “flippers” has not gone away.  The housing crisis of 2008 has only made it worse.
     Much research remains to be done on the architectural legacy of Healy, including work on his connection with Sears and many other prominent people of his day in Minnesota.  If people value something, they will make an effort to keep it safe, and it is through this research that we hope to preserve T.P. Healy’s splendid architectural legacy.


This is my favorite Healy house. Healy’s development of the Queen Anne is the balancing of a variety of elements, the circular and the rectilinear. This house seems to melt from one section to another. A.C.
Permit information:
3111 Second Ave. So.
Owner: T. P. Healy
6-10-91 / 9-1-91
Est. cost: $5,000.
The second floor porch below the tower, the front of the house curved, the balcony railing curved, unique among existing Healy houses.
Detail of front porch, with the classic double entry doors. For everyone who has been here, this is the spiritual center of the Healy Block.
The front gable end with half-round window and fishscale shakes.
The link above will take you to an article about Marjory Holly, longtime owner (with her husband Peter) of this house. 


Permit information:
3120 Third Ave. So.
Owner: T. P. Healy
11-4-90 / 5-1-91
Est. cost: $6,000.

The significance of this house is told by the building dates. Healy begins to build a house in the winter. Now how difficult would that have been in 1891?

Although the house has been clad in asbestos shakes sometime mid-20th century, according to Mina Blyly-Strauss, who grew up in the house, it’s “not so pretty on the outside, but has all the stained glass and natural woodwork throughout. The second floor layout matches 3116 Third and the first floor is similar. including a very similar entry staircase in the front, though–unlike 3116– the third floor is unfinished. It was duplexed at one time, but the only thing left of the second floor kitchen are the sink and some upper cabinets.

Underneath the siding and porch enclosure, one can still see remnants of the original Healy exterior in the second-floor bay window and balcony, the rounded section under the side gable, and the high front gable end.
A collage of images of 3120 from the Healy Block 1998 photo series (photo courtesy Mina Blyly-Strauss)


Permit information:
3101 Second Ave. So.
30 x 60 Wood dwelling
Owner: T. P. Healy
8-23-90 / 11-1-90

Originally the residence of Dr. Rufus H. Lane, this Queen Anne is one of the most visible Healys, well known by people exiting 35W at 31st Street.

Detail over the porch entrance

 The entrance has classic double solid doors. The classical porch columns, dentils, and this appliqué decoration look like a very early attempt to neo-classicise a Queen Anne. Healy built a house on the southern corner of this block the previous year. He seems determined here to show us everything he’s got.

The third floor enclosed porch, with detailing above echoing  design above entrance.  The paneled gable end is similar to that of 2936 Portland, built the same year.
Back porch on the side, eyebrow dormer curved bay under northside gable end (probably with both curved glass window sash and curved glass storms, curved wraparound front porch, corner tower with a bell roof, and that is just the north side.The trees in front protect this house from the western sun in the summer and help absorb the noise of 35W.
 Third floor porch below paneled gable end, the corner tower with the bell roof, and the second floor porch with the cat-slide roof.

A relatively plain Healy Queen Anne set between its more elaborate neighbors. According to Madeline Douglas, the current owners, the Mauris, have brought this house back to life. Master Carpenter Peter Holly, who lives on the Healy Block, has restored the porch woodwork to its intricate original glory, as he has so many other Healys.

Permit information:
3107 Second Ave. So.
30 x 50 Frame dwelling
Owner: T. P. Healy
3-30-91 / 6-1-91
Est. cost: $5,000.

This photo shows the porch restoration by Peter Holly. The porch and entrance reveal the elegance of Healy’s design: the delicacy of the posts, railings, and upper trim, the classic double entrance doors, the skirting, the curved window, the elaborately trimmed main window. 
  1890: One world passing away; a new world being born. John Henry Cardinal Newman, a leader of the Oxford Movement, died (b. 1801). Artist Vincent Van Gogh died (b. 1853). Composer Cesar Franck died (b. 1822). Russian statesman V. M. Molotov born (d. 1986). American general and president Dwight D. Eisenhower born (d. 1969). French soldier and statesman Charles DeGaulle born (d. 1970).
Formation of the American Tobacco Company, after a price war among cigarette companies, created a monopoly organized by James Buchanan Duke. Duke later created similar monopolies for plug tobacco and snuff. Ultimately he established the Duke Endowment, principally for the benefit of Trinity College in Durham, N.C., in 1924 renamed Duke University.
Aug. 6: The first electrocution took place at Auburn Prison, Auburn, N.Y. The executed prisoner was William Kemmler of Buffalo, who had been convicted of the hatchet murder of Matilda “Tillie” Ziegler, his common-law wife, on Mar. 28, 1889. The execution was botched. George Westinghopuse, Jr., reported: “It has been a brutal affair. They could have done better with an axe.”
(To promote his advocacy of electrocution as an ideal way of execution, Thomas Alva Edison went around the country publicly killing elephants and other animals by running an electrical current through them.)
The existence of urban slums was well known by many, but it was not until the publication this year of “How the Other Half Lives” by Jacob Riis, a Danish-born New York City Journalist, that the reality of the miserable lives led by thousands in the slums was brought home to the general public. The book triggered efforts to alleviate these conditions by improving labnor conditions and instituting building codes. In his book Riis cited facts and figures and told of his experiences in the slums. Battling alone at first, Riis gained many supporters and found a powerful ally in Theodore Roosevelt. He also made enemies of landlords and politicians who were profiting from the slums.

Permit information:
3127 Second Ave. So.
30 x 55 Frame dwelling
Owner: T. P. Healy
Builder: Self
4-2-90 / 7-1-90
Est. cost: $6,000.

This was the home of J. B. Hudson, an important figure in the retail jewelry business in Minneapolis. Healy would build J. B. Hudson a second home on Lowry Hill in 1905.   (Photo taken in 2011)

The front gable end with the distinctive cap over the triple set of gable end windows. On the second floor, note the arched stained glass transoms over the rectangular window in the bay. 

Note by owner David Piehl: All of the jewelled glass windows in my house were stolen when it was vacant prior to my ownership…with documentation provided by Andy Gage, they were reproduced by Century Studios to look as close to original as possible(remember that Century Studios makes the finest Tiffany reproductions, experts have trouble telling they aren’t original). The piano window had been missing for so long that we had no documentation on it, same with the second floor arched windows. The piano window was created using a design Robert Quene created, and I bought a set of antique windows from Keith Miller that fit the 2nd floor; the person Keith purchased them from claimed to have salvaged them from a house across the street before the demolitions to make way for “progress”.

The house with new paint job under way (Photo taken in 2012)

From 1890-1892, T. P. Healy builds the Queen Annes that we think of as his classics. My records show that he built 30 houses and a couple of barns during this three year period. Six of these houses have been wrecked, four for I-35. Minneapolis’s population had nearly quadrupled in the 1880’s; it was still growing. Twenty-three of these houses were built by Healy on spec; seven were built for clients. Only two were designed by architects; Healy designed the rest. Nationally, the American economy was heading for a bubble and a crash in 1893.

The building record for T. P. Healy reflects 15 houses and a barn built in the 1880s after his arrival here in 1885. Seven of these houses have been demolished, six by the construction of I-35 in 1959-60. There are undoubtedly more houses built by Healy during this period that have not been found. They may have been demolished. They would likely be in the Central or Whittier neighborhoods, or the Lake Street corridor from 28th St. to 31st St. If anyone reading this page is the kind of person who likes to dig through City building records, go find some more Healys.

Permit information:
3131 Second Ave. So.
28 x 55 Wood dwelling
Owner: T. P. Healy
2-24-90 / 5-1-90
Est. cost: $5,000.

The Healy Family lived here only two years, 1890-92. In the Healy Block literature, the house is called the Healy-Rea House
From 1890-1892, T. P. Healy builds the Queen Annes that we think of as his classics. My records show that he built 30 houses and a couple of barns during this three year period. Six of these houses have been wrecked, four for I-35. Minneapolis’s population had nearly quadrupled in the 1880s; it was still growing. Twenty-three of these houses were built by Healy on spec; seven were built for clients. Only two were designed by architects; 
Healy designed the rest. Nationally, the American economy was heading for a bubble and a crash in 1893.

The front gable end features a high-pitched roof and unusual window treatment.

Note by David Piehl: “Those doors themselves are not original to the house. In the 1970’s this house was a boarding house, and the owner of 3127 (Adrian Sarff) took one of the original doors with him as a “souvenir” when he sold it to Bruce Grosklags. Bruce talked the absentee landlord of 3131 out of the doors there, and so for many years that set of doors was on 3127. The other original door from 3127 was removed from the basement when George & Andy left, but in the early 1990’s Andy helped me locate it. Some of the Sarff family stopped by to see the house in the mid 1990’s as they returned home from Adrian’s funeral. I was aware that they had the other door (made into a coffee table), and delicately suggested they contact me if they ever wanted to part with it. A few weeks later it appeared on my front porch with a note from them. A few inches at the top and bottom had been cut off, but Pete Holley made a near-seamless repair and I reinstalled them. The original doors for 3131 are badly weathered, but salvageable and are in my basement until the current or future owners of 3131 want to restore them.”

The classic Healy second story–the bay with an elaborately trimmed center window, the porch, the rich fretwork.


George Orff, the architect, signed the permit. He was working as a City official at this time.

Permit information:
3145 Second Ave. So.
30 x 50 Wood dwelling
Owner: T. P. Healy
1-18-89 / 5-1-89
Est. cost: $6,000.

The Tudor front porch and side porch were added in 1908 according to the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota brochure on the Healy Block.

The south gable end.
One of three original barns left on the Healy Block.