Healy Block Historic District

Healy Block District Map

Healy Block District Design Guidelines

 

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Second Avenue and 31 st Street South, 1936

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Healy House, circa 2000

Boundaries: Bounded by Second Avenue South, 31st Street, Third Avenue South and 32nd Street

Neighborhood(s): Central

Date of Local Designation: 1989

Date of National Designation: 1993

Historic Profile: The Healy Block Historic District represents one of the finest surviving collections of Queen Anne architecture in Minneapolis. Between 1886 and 1898, Theron Potter "T.P." Healy constructed the majority of the Queen Anne-style homes in the area south of downtown Minneapolis. The district is bordered by 31st and 32nd streets on the north and south, and second and third avenues on the east and west. Healy was the only Minneapolis builder to concentrate most of his work on the Queen Anne style, which earned him the reputation as the "Master Builder" of Queen Anne in the Twin Cities.

Streetcar accessibility connecting Lake Calhoun to downtown along Nicollet Avenue and 31st Street stimulated the development of the Healy Block area in 1878. Healy, an affluent maritime shipper, decided to explore the booming City of Minneapolis in 1884. Recognizing the housing shortage upon his arrival, Healy decided to become a builder and contractor. Designing middle- and upper-income residences on Lowry Hill and throughout the southern sections of Minneapolis’ growing residential communities, Healy found an eager market for his Queen Anne homes in the upper middle class. These residents were establishing their positions in city business and were looking for a way to permanently exhibit their new wealth. Upper-middle income residents who acquired this style of housing included J.B. Hudson, jeweler (3127 Second Ave. S.); the Sears family of Sears and Roebuck; pharmacist Rufus Lane (3123 Second Ave. S.) and Healy himself (3137 and 3115 Second Ave. S.).

Queen Anne rapidly became the predominant style for midsize housing in the United States following the showcasing of English architectural designs at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The style hit Minneapolis in the early 1880s and reached its full proportion in the late 1880s and early 1890s under Healy’s development. Common Queen Anne characteristics include front facing or cross-gabled rooflines, multiple building materials, trellised balconies, triptychs, window embellishments and stained glass transoms. Common Healy designs show an elaboration on these characteristics. His triptychs are often embellished with brightly colored art glass transoms (2116 Third Ave. S. and 3111 Second Ave. S.) or semicircular openings under gables (3123 Second Ave. S.). Off-center entrances extend outward from flat bays or reverse the situation with a deeply recessed entrance and swelled front window (3107 Second Ave. S.). Healy had a unique flair for combining regional materials, catalogue goods and quality craftsmanship. Each Healy house, although also characteristically Queen Anne, bears its own unique design developed by its builder.

As tastes in architecture changed by the late 1890s, the short-lived era of Queen Anne construction in Minneapolis came to an end. In 1959, the west side of the 3100 block was demolished, along with hundreds of other houses, when Interstate 35W was built. Interestingly, the freeway construction exposed the houses to public view, and they can now be seen along I-35W beside the 31st Street exit. The Healy Block remains the most intact and concentrated example of Queen Anne architecture constructed by a single builder in 19th century Minneapolis.

Photo Credits:

1936, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Circa 2000

Works Cited:

City of Minneapolis, "Local Heritage Preservation Designation Study," March 1989.

Updated May 2010

Last updated Nov 21, 2011