This past Saturday I spent my afternoon with one of my favorite non-profits, Preserve Minneapolis, touring Park AVE guided by Ryan Knoke. Preserve Minneapolis is an Association established to encourage and facilitate the preservation of Minneapolis’s historic places. Among other things, PM puts on walking and biking tours every summer in different historic areas of this lovely city. If you have never participated in one of these tours, I encourage you to visit their website and go to one! The last tour of the summer was held this past weekend, but PM continues to hold at least one tour a month throughout the year. Visit their website for more details www.preserveminneapolis.org.
Why Park Avenue? As commercial development in Minneapolis’s downtown started to push residents outward during the beginning of the 20th century, Park Ave became one of the most popular places to build. The street is a showcase for not only mansions of grandeur, but also beautifully crafted middle-class homes of the early 1900’s. Ryan Knoke’s tour began on Park Ave’s cross street of 31st Street East. He started his tour by painting a picture of the neighborhood at the turn of the last century.
What is now a busy three lane one-way street was once a quite one lane avenue lined with green space. Before the city opted to widen the road these houses enjoyed extended front yards and large set-backs. The first home on the tour is owned by Pam Mehlin who has an on-going restoration project on the property.
The home had received a full treatment of 1950’s asbestos siding. You can see in the photograph above the front of the home, completely restored, while the side that still maintains the asbestos siding. Pam spoke shortly about the restoration; she said that the asbestos treatment the home received was a blessing in disguise. It perfectly preserved all the ornate details of the front of the home.
The tour was about two hours in length as the group made their way down six blocks of Park Ave Ryan detailed the history of the people who made their residence here over 100 years ago.
The Daniel H. Evan’s House – built in 1905
Harry B. Cramer House – built in 1900 by H.N. Leighton, designed by Bertrand & Chamberlian
We ended at Ryan’s home where he and his partner,Montana Scheff, allowed us to tour the interior of their meticulous restoration project. It is hard to put into words how beautiful this home is, so I will let the pictures tell the story.
Ryan and Montana’s Park Ave home
A stained glass window inside the home
The window had been replaced and sold via an auction prior to Ryan and Montana acquiring the home. They tracked down the purchaser of the window and after long negotiations they were able to acquire it and return the window to its rightful place.
A photo of the original leather wallpaper in the dining room that is in excellent condition
I was volunteering as a docent for this tour and needed to deter people from touching the wallpaper.
View of the entry to the home from the interior
Ryan and Montana meticulouslyrestored all of the cherry woodwork.
The Maid’s stair case leading from the kitchen to a landing that connects it to the main staircase
If you are interested in reading more about Ryan and Montana’s work I encourage you to check out the following articles: