Guided tours explore historic and architecturally significant local sites

Preserve Minneapolis’ 2012 tour series offers an opportunity to explore historic and architecturally significant places in Minneapolis. On each tour, guides will tell the “stories behind the story” and give participants a greater understanding of what makes each area unique.

Among the upcoming tour destinations: Pioneer and Soldiers Cemetery, the mansion district of Park Avenue, Fort Snelling, Lowry Hill and Lake of the Isles. Tours cost $5 per person; proceeds are used to help fund the tour program.

Here is a list of upcoming tours. For information on the meeting place or to register, visit

Upcoming Preserve Minneapolis Tours

Historic Park Avenue: The Mansion District
Saturday, Aug. 11
10 a.m. - noon

Originally designed to be a stylish promenade of large urban estates offering oversized lots, wide boulevards, and generous setbacks, at the turn of the last century Park Avenue was ranked as one of Minneapolis’s most prestigious residential streets. The city’s business and social elite—many of whom were magnates in the then booming lumber and flour milling industries—commissioned top architects to design 35 of the city’s most opulent mansions along the 10-block “Golden Mile” between 18th and 28th Streets. By the end of the 1960s, “urban renewal,” in the form of demolition, had claimed 27 of them. Experience the remaining eight mansions up close—including some interiors—and discover those that have been lost through historic photographs and information about their famous first occupants.

Red Cedar Lane: Wm. Purcell homes
Sunday, Aug. 12
1 - 3 p.m.

Red Cedar Lane, one of the most beautiful secrets in the Twin Cities, was laid out by architect John Jager beginning in 1904. Jager planted red cedars along the street that now form a luxuriant and aromatic canopy that makes the street seem like an outdoor room. The area has Jager’s own house and several others designed by William Gray Purcell and Frederick Strauel. Tour begins with a short slide lecture to introduce these designers and their architecture.

Fort Snelling Upper Post
Tuesday, Aug. 14
6:30 - 8 p.m.

Built between 1820 and 1825, Fort Snelling served as one of several Army outposts during Euro-American settlement of the nation’s western frontier. When the frontier passed the Fort, the property was sold and stood empty between 1858 and 1861. It was pressed back into service during the Civil War, providing a base for training and equipping more than 22,000 soldiers. The fort was also a staging point for military campaigns against Indian tribes, a tragic chapter of our nation’s past. Fort Snelling grew during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to meet military needs within and outside of U.S. boundaries. After World War II, it was decommissioned and turned over to the Veterans Administration in 1946.

University of Minnesota: Old Campus Historic District
Wednesday, Aug. 15
6 – 7:30 p.m.

The University of Minnesota has had several major periods of development ranging from Horace Cleveland’s 1892 plan to Cass Gilbert’s Northrop Mall to the 1970s development of the West Bank campus. This tour will look at the campus development and buildings from the earliest years up to the 1950s

Minneapolis’ Architectural Necklace: Housing along Lake of the Isles
Saturday, Aug. 18
10 a.m. – noon

The winding eastern shoreline of Lake of the Isles displays some of Minneapolis’ most splendid residential architecture, exemplifying design talents of the region’s most influential architects.

Elliot Park and the 9th Street Historic District
Saturday, Aug. 25
11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Elliot Park was one of the first residential neighborhoods in downtown Minneapolis. Visit the landmarks that make it a charming urban neighborhood, and survey the promise for new development. The Band Box Diner, 19th century brownstone row houses, North Central University, and the hospital district that has defined Elliot Park as a health sciences center will be included.

Where the Elite Met: Lowry Hill in the 1890s
Sunday, Aug. 26
1 - 3 p.m.

The Mount Curve and Groveland Terrace area in Lowry Hill was one of the first upper class neighborhoods in Minneapolis. Learn about the homes built there by the city’s rich and famous families, including the Lowrys, Glueks, Donaldsons, Partridges, and Notts. See how the neighborhood has changed since its inception in 1874.

Murder and Mayhem in Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery
Saturday, Sept. 8
10 – 11:30 a.m.

Join us for a walk through the seamier side of Minneapolis’ history at Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery. Along the way we’ll stop and pay our respects (or not) to a host of others, both casualties and criminals, who most definitely did not die peacefully in their sleep.

Historic Park Avenue: The Southern District
Saturday, Sept. 15
10 a.m. – noon

Step back in time as you take a stroll alongside ornate Queen Annes and stately Classical Revivals to discover the differences between architectural styles; admire original photographs and hear stories of the first families, prolific architects, and master builders of these fine homes; and see how this stretch of Park Avenue is being rediscovered by many drawn to its rich history, impressive housing stock, and numerous preservation and restoration efforts.


Published Jul 31, 2012



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