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Recent posts:

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

Poisoning the Well: Testimony about 2320 Colfax Avenue South

banksy-lies-politics-544x668

–Lenin corrected by Banksy

What a difference two weeks makes.  Earlier this month, a salvage company began removing architectural components of the Healy house at 2320 Colfax Avenue South in preparation for its demolition. The number of architectural items that came out of that house stunned even those of us who had never believed that nothing was left of Healy’s original 1893 house: fireplaces, doors, millwork, tiles, stained and leaded glass.  The items salvaged are now for sale on City Salvage & Antique’s web site, marketed for the exquisite art they are, worth a small fortune.

A subcontractor of City Salvage on December 5 reported: “They wisely got the glass out first. They were busy tonight removing the raised-panel cherry wainscoting from the entry hall and stairs. The oft-discussed original first floor front facade is in fact still there, hiding inside the enclosed porch. Bay windows and bow window side by side, both intact inside and out. They also found a covered ox-eye window on the north wall of the second floor.

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The doors that allegedly didn’t exist.–Photo by Keith Lawrence

All the large doorways communicating 2320’s entry hall, parlors and dining room, each of which had been filled in with drywall and cheap hollow interior doors [by owner Mike Crow], were found still to have 6′-wide, paneled sliding doors hanging intact in their pockets. The Healy signature tile floor uncovered in the vestibule is being removed, destined for re-purpose as a table top.”

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Vestibule tiles being removed.–Photo by Keith Lawrence

These are all things that demolition proponents, including  the developer, the owner’s broker, and two preservation experts, claimed repeatedly weren’t there– before the neighborhood association, the Heritage Preservation Commission, the Minneapolis City Council, and, under oath, before District Court.

Photos and video taken on the second floor of 2320 last week and presented in District Court shows that owner Michael Crow gave misleading testimony, repeatedly claiming that the second and third floors were gutted in the reconstruction after the fire in 1991. The details revealed by the salvage operation show his claims to be false. Tom Dunn (real estate broker) of Terra Firma Commercial, the Lander Group (developer), Amy Lucas (historic preservation expert), and City Planner John Smoley all repeated this false testimony. Did they know it to be false or did they fail to do their due diligence?

Anders Christensen and Trilby Busch went on record 43 years ago (November 1981 Twin Cities Magazine article Legacy of a Master Builder) contending that 2320 Colfax is an important part of Healy’s architectural legacy. This claim was made long before the house was threatened with demolition.

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The Trent Tile fireplace from 2320 Colfax.

In April of 2013, owner Michael Crow told the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission that “everything on the second floor was completely gutted. . .There just isn’t much of the house left.”

Smoley repeated Crow’s misleading testimony: “The interior has been completely lost.” Lucas echoed this, saying, “I don’t know if any of you have been in the house but when it burned, the second and third floors burned completely. So they were rebuilt as small rooms upstairs, so there are sheet rock walls and metal doors.” Dunn summed up these comments with, “There just really isn’t anything worth saving in the building.” Despite these assertions, the HPC declared 2320 an “historic resource.” In May of 2013, the City Council upheld this decision.

However, after the 2013 election, Michael Crow came back to City Hall singing the same tune, but this time to more receptive ears. In March 2014 on a motion by chair Lisa Bender, the Zoning and Planning Committee granted Crow a demolition permit for an historic resource.

Last May, the Healy Project filed suit in District Court to stop the demolition of this historic resource. The case never made it to the trial stage. The Healy Project failed to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) in large part because Crow, Dunn, Smoley, and Lucas once again repeated the false claims initiated by Michael Crow. Since then, the suit has remained on the docket, minus an injunction against demolition.

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The foyer leaded glass window being prepared for removal.–Photo by Keith Lawrence

After the recent revelation that the vast majority of the interior and exterior of the house was intact, the Healy Project decided to revisit the lawsuit. On Friday, December 19th, attorney Erik Hansen appeared in District Court before the Hon. Frank Magill, Jr. to request a TRO, based on the documented revelations of the salvage operation.

Bethany Gladhill, a credentialed expert on historic preservation, testified that in her professional opinion 2320 would be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, especially if it were included in a Multiple Property Listing of Healy houses in Lowry Hill East. She called 2320 a “transitional” Healy house, in fact, the “lynchpin” in that  transition of designs. In her opinion, 2320 has strong integrity of place, of workmanship, and of materials. She respectfully disagreed with several of the findings and the conclusion of Amy Lucas’s report.

Michael Crow’s attorney Steven Harris said the closing between Michael Lander’s development company and Crow is set for Tuesday. It will be Michael Lander’s responsibility to demolish 2320 and the neighboring house at 2316. Crow will receive $950,000 for both properties; Harris requested a bond in that amount if the TRO is granted. A ruling is expected on Monday, December 22nd.

Did Crow lie to his attorney, or did his attorney lie to the judge in expectation of getting a $950k bond in case the judge issued the TRO? Or is there another explanation of these conflicting reports? Did the closing actually take place on the 22nd? Inquiring minds want to know. T.B.]

The next two posts provide detailed documentation of the series of misrepresentations in the testimony of Crow, Dunn, Lucas, Smoley, and the Lander Group throughout the two-year-long series of hearings regarding 2320 Colfax.

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2320 Colfax on the morning of December 19.

“There is only a negligible amount of original trim inside, which is really not worth saving, there’s nothing special about it.” Tom Dunne, President, Terra Firma Commercial, Real Estate Services
“Fires in 1991 and 2011 have left very little interior fabric.” Amy Lucas, Principal, Landscape Research
“Over 75% of the original materials in the home have been replaced due to extensive fires and insensitive remodeling.” Lander Group Development Team, submitted by Collage Architects.

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After the salvage company ripped out what allegedly wasn’t there. Photo by Keith Lawrence.

If the above evidence doesn’t convince you that this whole process was poisoned from the start, here are some more statements presented to decision-making bodies, courtesy of Brian Finstad:

“There is not one single room that is in its original state. The only two rooms that are the most intact in the entire building are the foyer or entry and the original living room with fireplace.”
– Mike Crow – Colfax Addendum – 8 Jan 2014

“Besides some wood door frames there is little original fabric at the interior.”
– Amy Lucas, Landscape Research – Report to Pete Keely – 14 Dec 2012

“The interior has been completely lost with the rooming house conversion and fire repairs.”
– Amy Lucas, Landscape Research – Report to Pete Keely – 14 Dec 2012

“Fires in 1991 and 2011 have left little interior fabric . The second and third floors have been completely rebuilt”
– Amy Lucas, Landscape Research – Report to Pete Keely – 14 Dec 2012

“As is common knowledge, the property has endured a number of fires throughout its history with the last fire essentially removing the upper two floors.”
– Assessment of Economic Feasibility of Rehabilitation – Tom Dunn, Terra Firma Commercial – undated

“There is only a negligible amount of original trim inside, which is really not worth saving, there’s nothing special about it. There is one noteworthy concave window on the north side that will be saved, along with a fire place and whatever else there is of value.”
– Assessment of Economic Feasibility of Rehabilitation – Tom Dunn, Terra Firma Commercial – undated

“… the home is nothing close to the original construction. Over 75% of the original materials in the home have been replaced due to extensive fires, and insensitive remodeling.”
– Letter to HPC – Lander Group Development Team; Collage Architects – 17 Feb 2014

“Nearly all of the construction above the first floor and most of the first floor are not Healy constructed components as these have all been replaced… The second and third floors of the structure were gutted down to the studs… nearly all architectural integrity was removed from these two floors …over 70% of the first floor was changed.”
– Letter to HPC – Lander Group Development Team; Collage Architects – 17 Feb 2014

“Fire has gutted the top two floors. Approximately 600 sq.ft. of the total interior has any remains close to the original… There is a fireplace covered with newer construction.”
– Letter to HPC – Lander Group Development Team; Collage Architects – 17 Feb 2014

“The developer will take steps toward preservation. A full photo-documentation of the property interior and exterior will be completed.”
– Letter to HPC – Lander Group Development Team; Collage Architects – 17 Feb 2014

“The second and third floors were burned and the 1992 rehabilitation removed flooring, walls and doors. The plan of the upper floors was also changed during the renovation.”– Historic Evaluation – Amy Lucas, Landscape Research – Mar 2014

Going, going…….?–Photo by Keith Lawrence

Update: On 12/31/2014 KSTP-TV aired a story on 2320 Colfax, featuring an interview with Anders Christensen. To view the story, click here.

–T.B., C.A.C.