Northern Explorers

There is a list of places that every Minnesotan must visit, at least once, and Duluth is one of those places. It’s so easy to get caught up with the excitement and entertainment going on weekly in the Twin Cities, one may never feel the need to leave. But, that would be a mistake.

This is why, when I saw the lineup for the Super Big Block Party over labor day weekend in Duluth, I knew it was the perfect excuse to get out of town. I recruited my favorite affianced couple to join me on an adventure. I visited Duluth as a kid and stood in awe of the giant ships, visited friends in college and became intimately familiar with how cold it can get (and how difficult it must have been for my cousin to navigate the icey, hilly landscape in her manual transmission car). But this trip was going to be different – this time I was going to be a “tourist”, I wanted to casually explore Duluth, get to know the city as if I had never been before. So, with that, here are some highlights from my Labor Day weekend adventure in Duluth.


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The Importance of Place

I get this question a lot: what is your favorite building? Seems like a reasonable question, given my education in historic preservation, and my affinity for architecture. So, I guess that’s why people are surprised when I don’t really have a favorite building. Two reasons for this:

(1) I tend to be more attracted to vernacular, ordinary buildings than remarkable architectural monuments and there are many great examples of lovely, albeit “simple” buildings, I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite

(2) to me, “preservation” is more about neighborhoods – or a collection of buildings – than it is about any one particular structure. Continue reading “The Importance of Place”

Minnesota Made Beer: Part Two

I promised when I wrote this post on some local breweries, that I’d create a series going forward about Minnesota breweries. So, here I am making good on that promise with four new tap rooms to which I recently paid a visit. It is extra fitting that I’m writing it this week as it is Minnesota Craft Beer Week (that was dumb luck, I didn’t know such a thing existed until after I had decided to write the post for this month). One caveat I’m going to throw out there – my brewery visits are going to pay very little attention to the beer itself. Which I guess might seem silly – but if you have been reading my posts you probably understand that I really like buildings and history. So my focus is on the spaces that the tap rooms occupy, the history of the buildings and the history of the brewery. I do like beer – and drink quite a bit of it – but I’m in no way qualified to judge or recommend beer flavors to you, so I’ll just stick to what I’m good at – rambling random facts about buildings and history.

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Musings of a Minnesotan Preservationist

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about historic preservation as a social cause. This is not entirely new for me (I spend an embarrassing amount of time thinking about these things), but I have slightly changed my view on the topic given recent events. I get so frustrated by the way I see preservation presented in the media. Recent examples being coverage of conflict between Nicole Curtis and the Minneapolis City Council over demolition of a house on Colfax Avenue (see my post on this topic here) or tensions between preservation groups and developers amid the proposed construction of a high rise tower within a historic district and next to Nye’s Polonaise. It seems the only time we hear about preservationists is when they are fighting with someone and they’re often depicted as “not in my backyard” fanatics. In an effort to reframe what I believe to be a huge misconception, I’d like to offer up some alternative views for your consumption.

NYC Skyline Midday

NYC has old AND new buildings. If I’m a preservationist, does that mean I have to hate all the new buildings?

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A little paint, exposed brick and pieces of my favorite people

Ok, guys, let’s lighten things up a little bit here, alright? Lately I’ve been posting on serious topics which I’m very passionate about, from the way that preservationists represent themselves, to a decision made by the St. Cloud School District to vacate the 1917 building where I attended classes in favor of building a large, sprawling school on the edge of town. These topics are important, and I encourage you to visit those posts if you haven’t had the chance to take a look at them yet. All that being said, I thought it was time to add some levity to this blog so I’m going to share with you some of the projects I’ve been working on in my house!

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