Study of African American heritage continues with grant from National Park Service

March 25, 2024

The Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Development (CPED) has received a $75,000 Underrepresented Communities Grant from the National Park Service. The City plans to use these funds, together with an award from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (commonly known as the Legacy Grant program), to help address the underrepresentation of African American history among local and national listings of historic places.

The Legacy Grant will fund a context study and the survey of 25 properties associated with African American history in Minneapolis. A context study is a document that describes people, places, and events related to a common theme. This study will help guide historic preservation planning in Minneapolis related to the city’s African American history.

The Underrepresented Communities Grant will be used to build on that context study and fund a Multiple Property Documentation Form and the nomination of at least three individual properties to the National Register of Historic Places -- the nation’s official list of historic places worthy of preservation.

This is among 21 projects in 19 states and the District of Columbia that the National Park Service funded in February to encourage the survey and nomination of sites and districts associated with communities that are underrepresented in the National Register. The Minneapolis project builds on work that began in 2021 to better understand the people, places and events that are important to the African American community and that helped shape the history of the city.

“This project supports goals and policies laid out in Minneapolis 2040 and the Minnesota Statewide Historic Preservation Plan 2022-2032,” said Erin Que, a senior city planner on CPED’s historic preservation team. “We are excited to continue this work and better acknowledge African American stories in our city’s legacy, both past and present.”

Minneapolis’ historic preservation program began in 1972. Since then, the City Council has designated more than 200 individual landmarks and historic districts that reflect various aspects of the City’s heritage. Yet our efforts still need to address a broader representation of our community. About 20% of residents identify as Black or African American. However, our historic preservation listings primarily represent the architectural and historical contributions of white Minneapolitans.

Currently, Minneapolis has approximately 150 listings on the National Register of Historic Places, only three of which are associated with African American history: the Arthur and Edith Lee House, the Lena O. Smith House, and Hiawatha Golf Course. Of the more than 200 local landmarks and historic districts identified by the City, seven recognize African American history.

For more information about the ongoing project, visit the City website.


This project is being supported in part by the people of Minnesota through a grant funded by an appropriation to the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Additional support comes from the Historic Preservation Fund’s Underrepresented Communities Grant, which is administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. The Historic Preservation Fund has funded more than $2 billion since its inception in 1977 towards historic preservation grants.