Why was the street of Minneapolis mansion destroyed, but St. Paul survived?

Why was the street of Minneapolis mansion destroyed, but St. Paul survived?

Many people travel to Summit Avenue in St Paul's to appreciate its extensive collection of historic stone parks. Good luck doing the same thing in Minneapolis.

Today, the name of the Minneapolis comparable Mansion Street, Park Avenue, is a high-speed town center airplane. But it was once the posh address of the city's elite, which received a newspaper in 1901 as “the original fine residential street of Minneapolis, the wide walkway route and the extensive grounds.” T

Why did one person fail and someone else failed? A reader asked the Star Tribune to get answers as part of Curious Minnesota, a community-driven reporting project that asked fantastic questions from curious readers.

At its peak, there were about 36 mansions filled with Park from Franklin Avenue to 28 Street, formerly known as the “Golden Mile”. Most of them were fictional family owned of the era as Peavey, Heffelfinger, Bell and McKnight. The area is now involved in non-profit offices, health clinics and a university campus. Only a handful of Fatima remain.

Little research has been carried out by the area as Ryan Knoke, who began conducting popular walking tours of the Park after buying a house and then renovating it about 15 years ago. It draws gasps from tour groups when photos of the long mansions have gone up, and the things that stand there today.

“Close your eyes and imagine that Summit Avenue is just being blown completely. Every house except eight houses, tomorrow, ”said Knoke. “It's hard to imagine because there's so much pride in it.”

Knoke's main explanation for the decay of the Park is that he brought close to the center of the street – without the hill that separates the Summit from the center of St. Paul – and its link to suburbs growing significantly with the number of visitors. their residents. It was also an attractive location for commercial development which replaced the houses.

“I think numero uno, it was traffic,” Knoke said. “Because the traffic was sent out by the families. They spent years fighting without success. ”

He added that Summit Avenue had deteriorated, but benefited from a more aggressive strain in the 1960s and 1970s to save the old buildings there.

Architectural historian Larry Millett, author of “Once There Were Castles,” said that Park Avenue was lost by the 1920s and 1930s.

“I think the big families moved out to Lake Minnetonka or the [Minneapolis] Lake District, ”said Millett. “Large houses are generally difficult to keep. That is what makes the Summit so unusual and many of the big houses are kept. ”

The Millett said that the Summit benefited from its geography.

“He sat up on the hill,” said Millett. “Downtown was never going to have the bluff so… that was a natural barrier. And I think the Summit kept its work for a long time. ”

Paved shows

Minneapolis' rich families first built their houses out, but they moved further out as the city developed. The animals began to rise in the 1880s on Park Avenue, which provided a much narrower roadway and wide green rounds.

By the early 1890s, its residents had made an improvement association and paid to convert it to the city's first asphalt street. The 1895 pavement map shows that most of the paved streets were still using cellular blocks at the time. The Park was quickly successful due to racing bikes and parked cars.

“Even now, in its unfinished state, Park Avenue is visited daily by pleasure seekers, cyclist and joint collectors of children's charts connected together, all trying to overflow the new path,” he described. the Minneapolis Tribune in 1890.

But the nicest street in the town was harmful. In the early 1900s, the residents of the Park asked the city to convert it into an official parkway to "exclude traffic wagons from this handsome avenue."

“Under the current conditions drivers go off to use the asphalt pavement on Park avenue,” said the Minneapolis Journal. By the 1920s residents of Park and Portland were calling for the city to put heavy lorries from rumbling up and down the streets.

The traffic grew worse as Richfield developed to the south and flushed the downtown commuters, which prompted what Knoke considered two fatal blows to Park Avenue. In 1946 the city of Park and Portland converted into one-way streets to accelerate traffic. Then in the mid-1950s the street was expanded by 20 feet, some years before Interstate 35W opened.

“It was a slow process of people moving away, but the Fatima's final blow came [roadway decisions,]”Knoke said, noting that many people moved to their summer homes near Lake Minnetonka.

The book “Legacy of Minneapolis: Preservation Amid Change” notes that Minneapolis' original cultivated descendants began to move to more rural areas. This was easier for Minneapolis private clubs with room facilities, offering a place to stay at commuters if they couldn't drive home. The older houses were no longer needed.

“Therefore the process of reduction for many of the older parts of the city which was substantial and significant began when they were first built (for example, Park Avenue),” the book said.

Some of the Fatima are first separated into apartments. But in the end, many people met the ugly ball that started in the 1950s and continued for a number of years. In which insurance companies, youth center, senior facilities, and blood bank arrived, among other uses.

On the news that a grain magnate house would be demolished in 1956, the Minneapolis Star pointed out that “Park Avenue, which was very popular with Minneapolis, when industry pioneers took grains, milling and lumber to take their mansions, lost most of its majestic. ”

Millett said that the demolitions were gradual.

“There was no clear ear of the old people,” said Millett. “It happened over time.”

The last of the major demolitions occurred in 1983. Unlike Summit Avenue, the Park is not part of an historic area. However, four of the remaining mansions are now considered to be four local historical signs, giving them additional protection from demolition.

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