Join us on Facebook
Send us an Email
“Anders epitomizes PAM’s mission of connecting people to places through hands-on building re-use, training the next generation of building tradespeople, and staunchly advocating for his neighborhood. For Anders, building re-use and strong communities are a way of life.”–Doug Gasek
Anders Christensen, president of the Healy Project and long-time preservation advocate, was this year’s recipient of Executive Director’s Award from the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. At the PAM Gala and Awards event at the St. Paul Athletic Club on October 11, 2018, Anders received the award from Doug Gasek, the Executive Director, for his hands-on work in restoring buildings and preservation advocacy through his work with the Healy Project.
In his remarks, Gasek noted, “Whenever we think of Anders Christensen, we think of his optimism, passion, is craftsmanship, entrepreneurship; his inquisitiveness, and generally just his joy of life. Anders gets to go to work every day at his Minneapolis-based company, TigerOx Painting, specializing in painting, plaster repair, paper hanging, and other finishing trades. Anders knows how crucial it is to pass on his knowledge of the trades to future generations. . . .Anders is also the founder of the Healy Project, a nonprofit dedicated to sharing the architectural legacy of Minneapolis master builder T. P. Healy. He has dedicated countless hours to research and education about Healy and it has resulted in the growing community pride. Anders sees more than the architectural gems in the neighborhood, he sees the people and the places and the possibilities.”
Many friends, relatives, Tiger-Ox colleagues, and Healy Project members were on hand to see Anders receive this well-deserved award for his work in building restoration and preservation advocacy.
For Anders’ comments on receiving the award, see https://healyproject.org/anders-christensens-remarks-on-receiving-preservation-alliance-of-minnesota-award/
Remarks by Anders Christensen on receiving the Executive Director’s Award of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, October 11, 2018:
I want to thank the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota for this award. It is a great personal honor; I am most grateful. When the awards were announced publicly, I congratulated Senator David Senjem. This is what he messaged me: ”Kind of clumsy. Don’t legislate for awards or public recognition. . . To be sure it is impossible to legislate alone and everything I get credit for was done with help.”
The construction of buildings is a team sport. Everyone involved in the construction process must work together. We are competing, not against each other, but against the clock and against the budget. I never imagined growing up that I would end up in the building trades. I was born and raised in Duluth. I came to Minneapolis in 1972 to pursue a PhD in the literature of the English Renaissance— William Shakespeare, and all the other brilliant wordsmiths of that great age.
In 1976, the American Bicentennial Year, my wife Trilby and I bought an old house in the Wedge, the Lowry Hill East neighborhood of Minneapolis. It had been built in 1885. It was a vernacular Victorian built by a master builder. It was decidedly pre-Modern, from another age. In the aftermath of Watergate and the Vietnam War, I think we were searching for something in the past that would help us find our way forward.
We began to do research. Suddenly, it came alive to us. It connected us to a previous generation. We dove into the restoration process. It is hard to convey the intensity of the community of restoration and preservation that happened in that period of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Anyone who has gotten the restoration bug knows what I am talking about. We were a group of people with a common purpose, curiosity, and a willingness to share what we learned with each other.
I had walked away from the academic life in 1977. I was drawn to a life of action. There was also something very compelling about the study of local history. When you study Shakespeare, you also have to study four hundred years of other people studying Shakespeare. When I started my study of master builder T. P. Healy in 1978, I was studying someone that history had forgotten about. There were no footsteps in the snow. My research of T. P. Healy led me to John Cuningham, a young architect and T.P. Healy’s great grandson. I have often teasingly called John “The Heir.”
We are all heirs. We have all received an inheritance. It is not something we choose or earn by effort, or work for, or deserve. Inheritances are gifts from generations that have gone before. We probably think first of money through a will. But we also receive a genetic inheritance. Politically, we have received the inheritance of a democratic republic in the United States of America. Again not things we choose, earn, work for, or deserve.
We have also received an inheritance of a built environment, a land with buildings on it. We did not design them with our imaginations; we did not build them with our hands; we have not maintained them in the years before they became ours. Our old buildings, our historic buildings are our inheritance. And if we received an inheritance of money from an ancestor, who would throw it away? Buildings are no different.
John Ruskin, the great Victorian art critic and social reformer says this about buildings in the Lamp of Memory, one of the Seven Lamps of Architecture:
“Of more wanton or ignorant ravage it is vain to speak; my words will not reach those who commit them, and yet, be it heard or not, I must not leave the truth unstated, that it is again no question of expediency or feeling whether we shall preserve the buildings of past times or not. We have no right whatever to touch them. They are not ours. They belong partly to those who built them, and partly to all the generations of mankind who are to follow us. The dead have still their right in them: that which they labored for, the praise of achievement or the expression of religious feeling, or whatsoever else it might be which in those buildings they intended to be permanent, we have no right to obliterate. What we have ourselves built, we are at liberty to throw down; but what other men gave their strength and wealth and life to accomplish, their right over does not pass away with their death; still less is the right to the use of what they have left vested in us only. It belongs to all their successors.”
My study of master builder T. P. Healy has gone on for over forty years now. I have been increasing intrigued with the role of the master builder, the man who both designs the building and builds it. It is like a composer conducting his own work. But when we say Healy “built” the building we mean that he directed and organized the construction. The composer and the conductor are dependent on the entire orchestra to make the music, otherwise there is no sound, no music. The same is true in building. As a painter, I am like a second bassoonist. I am essential to the creation of the sound, but only a part of a much larger whole.
I have been working on people’s houses for close to forty years now. I get to work for people that I love helping them care for the houses that they love. I have also had the opportunity to teach many young people how to paint who have worked for me over the years. It never gets old. It is always the process of becoming. As painters we maintain older buildings so that they can be passed on to the next generation.
I want to acknowledge some of the people here tonight. Trilby Busch and I started this journey forty years ago. We continue our work together and are proud parents of our two daughters. Daughter Ceridwen Anne, who grew up in the chaos of an old house restoration, went on to become my business partner for twenty years. My big brother in the trades is John Erler, the master carpenter of Swede Hollow. My former business partner Rachel Reksten Taylor; my current partner Jeremy Wikre. My two sons William Hollender and Peter Hollender both worked for me when they were in college. I have worked for PAM teaching classes over the last four or five years. Natalie Heneghen, the education coordinator, has made everything work, has been a joy to work with. Jamila, who took a PAM class I taught a couple weeks ago, learned how to repair sash windows with broken cords. And last but not least my wife Christine who lets me pick the colors in our house and supports me when I go tilting at windmills, defying the powers that be, and generally following my muse in this world. I wish my parents Chris and Dory Christensen could be here. They taught me everything by the way they led their lives. My mother-in-law, Avis Hefner, is here from Sioux City, Iowa. I am touched that she made the trip to be here tonight.
Thank you to all of you here present for your support of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and for the ways in which you individually work for the preservation of our architectural heritage. And, again, thank you PAM for this honor.
Hear fascinating new information gleaned from recent research about the houses on the lost, even-numbered side of Second Avenue. See images of the houses wrecked for I-35W construction nearly six decades ago. Join researchers Anders Christensen and Ezra Gray for a walking tour of the Healy Block Residential Historic District on Sunday, May 7th to learn more about the “lost” side and updated research on the entire Block.
Tickets are $12 on Eventbrite. On the day of the tour, tickets will be available on site for $15.
Meet in front of the Healy-designed George F. Bates House, 3139 Second Avenue South at 1 p.m. on May 7th. Tour will take place rain or shine.
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.
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.”
On Saturday, October 3rd, the Healy Project is offering its third Minneapolis architectural walking tour, this time showcasing the historic houses of the North Wedge, that is, the apex of the Lowry Hill East neighborhood north of West 25th Street. In addition to viewing the exterior of these historic homes, tour-goers will get to see the interior of an 1899 Healy house:
The tour will start in Mueller Park at 1 p.m. and will wind around the Norh Wedge, to Franklin Avenue and back, highlighting Healy-built houses and houses by other Minneapolis master builders. Join researchers Anders Christensen, Sean Ryan, and Ezra Gray in walking around the neighborhood, looking at historical houses built by T.P Healy, Henry Ingham, and other master builders.
In November 2013, the Project gave its inaugural tour featuring the Healy Block Historic District, right off the 31st exit of I-35W in south Minneapolis. These Queen Anne houses are Healy’s signature designs and the most famous of his buildings. The North Wedge tour will showcase some of his later designs, showing the transitions in styles taking place in the 1890s and early 1900s.
Tour-goers should assemble in Mueller Park (2500 Bryant Avenue South) in Minneapolis at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 3rd.
Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 on the day of the tour. To reserve a place on tour, sign up on Eventbrite:
An 1885 house will be open to tour on Saturday, April 25th, 1-2 p.m. The Twin Cities Vintage Homes Group is sponsoring the tour, with the proceeds to be donated to the Healy Project.
Sign up for the tour on the Twin Cities Vintage Homes Group Meetup page. Space is limited, so don’t delay. To tour the interior of the house, you must preregister.
(Note: This is not a T.P.Healy design.)
The rectilinear Queen Anne at 2648 Emerson Ave. S. in Minneapolis was designed and built by master builder Charles Johnson Buell. After owner Frank Cartwright died in 1942, the house fell on hard times. The Cartwrights had duplexed it during the Depression. Subsequent owners had painted all the woodwork and added two layers of siding, insulbrick and asbestos shakes.
The current owner acquired the house in 1976, and three years later the exterior restoration began with the removal of the siding.
Damaged clapboard was replaced, and the shingles on the gable ends repaired. Using the 1915 photo, master carpenter Doug Moore reproduced ornaments and trim. The house was painted in multiple historic colors.
The total restoration of the house took place incrementally, over 30 years. The woodwork in eight of the 12 original rooms has been stripped and refinished. In 1996 the summer kitchen was converted into a four-season room and 3/4 bath. Both of the chimneys and the front porch have been rebuilt. The interior restoration was officially declared complete in 2009 with the replication of the fretwork spandrel between the parlors–done by the same carpenter who reproduced the exterior trim in 1979.
The builder, Charles J. Buell, moved to Minneapolis from New York City in 1880. He served as principal of the Whittier School before becoming a builder. He built his first two houses in the Lowry Hill East neighborhood of Minneapolis in 1884; this house, built 1885, is his third. In 1888, he started building in St. Paul. From 1884-1919 Buell built 30 houses, 25 of which are still standing.
Buell Building List (compiled by Anders Christensen):
1884 402 W. Franklin (residence) Mpls.
2521 Aldrich Ave. S. $2,000
2525 Aldrich Ave. S. $2,000
1885 2648 Emerson Ave. S. $5,100
1887 2714 Girard Ave. S. $1,500 W
1888 2177 Commonwealth $5,000 SP
2173 Commonwealth $500
2210 (Langford N.) Hillside $2,400
930 Bayless $7,450 W
1889 2360 Bayless $5.000
2230-32 (Langford N.) Hillside $5,000
2214 (Langford N.) Hillside $2,400
25 Langford Park West $5,000
1890 2223 Knapp $2,450
1094-96 E. Bayless $6,000 W
1891 977 W. Bayless $2,500
2219 Knapp $3,000
1898 1717 Irving Ave. S. Mpls.
1901 1859 Dayton $3,500 SP
1902 1791 Dayton $2,000
1905 2308 Commonwealth $3,500
1906 1879 Dayton $4.250
1541 Ashland $4,500
1909 1549 Ashland $4.250
1550 Laurel $5,000
1910 1546 Laurel $4,000
1534 Laurel $4,500
1911 1514 Ashland $3,500
1913 1540 Ashland $3,500 W
1528 Laurel $5,000
1915 4748 Bryant $5,000 Mpls.
1919 2173 Commonwealth $3,200 SP