Monday, June 18, 2012
I'd driven past these two old brick houses in North Minneapolis at least 50 times, all the while thinking I really should take a photo of them. They were the kind of narrow, tall and simple box-shaped houses that you just don't see anymore -at least not in Minneapolis. The pair of homes -only just feet apart from one another both appeared to have built around the same time, of the same yellowed brick and having very similar construction -especially those old, tall windows with the arched top -something you'd be hard pressed to find nowadays even if you were looking for it. These houses resided on 2nd St. North right near the intersection of 2nd & Lowry, leading up to the old Lowry Avenue Bridge. In fact if you click on the photos to enlarge them you may be able to see the green metal top of the old Lowry Avenue Bridge. Whenever my wife and I would pass these houses our conversation would turn to wondering if anybody -or who- lived in those houses. At the time it DID look like at least one of them was occupied even though many of the windows were already boarded up. I don't remember which one we thought might have been occupied but I'm thinking it was the one on the right -with slightly less windows boarded up. The age of the houses was obvious in a lot of ways -from the weathered and cracked brickwork to the deteriorating and surely leaking roofs but mostly to the added electrical utilities that didn't seem to be part of the home's original plans. In January of 2006 we began to notice some activity around the houses including an orange construction fence in front. I figured I'd better stop and catch at least one photo of these houses so on a cold January day in 2006 we did just that. It was clear the homes were about to be demolished and it was sort of a neat feeling that we may well be the last people to be admiring them, daydreaming of the history that happened inside and outside of them. Both houses had been added onto at the rear, almost doubling the depth of each, making me wonder if they had been used for another purpose other than a simple family home. During our stop I finally capture the address of one of the two houses still above the front door -3210. Shortly after I looked up this address on the Hennepin County Property Tax web site and was not too surprised to see the last sale-price was for an astounding low rate. I don't remember exactly but I think it was somewhere shy of $10,000. Unfortunately I didn't keep those records. In fact, at the time of shooting these photos I didn't even have the faintest thought of what I would do with the photos -much less creating a blog someday. I don't remember but it wasn't very long after we stopped that both houses were totally gone - a testament to why it's almost always worth stopping to admire and/or photograph an old structure before it is gone. If you do a google map search on the address today you will see there is just an empty field. https://maps.google.com
Sunday, February 26, 2012
My apologies for such a long interval between updates. I'm finding it hard to regularly update 2 blogs -though this one gets many more views and comments! I have a stockpile of stuff to add, so if you can stand the wait please check back periodically. This post shows some photos of one of the most interesting buildings I've seen in the past few years. On a trip to Ely, Minnesota last fall we couldn't help but run into this massive, castle-looking building at on the corner of Camp St. and 2nd Avenue. The 4 & 1/2 story turret is hard to miss as you're driving up the hillside just 1 or 2 blocks of the main street. The yellowed and ornate brickwork immediately tell you something of it's age but it's impressive architecture is not like anything you typically see in Minnesota. This place is truly a "castle" with multiple dormers and bay windows making up complex shapes especially along it's roof line. Though there must have been nearly 30 windows on the one side, we couldn't see one that was not broken out or boarded up. As I took pictures in awe, I noticed the roof seemed in fairly decent shape and likely redone recently. Also some of the protruding window sections and also the top level of the turret had been resurfaced in a "stucco" like method. There were for-sale signs on the long side -and even they were busted up, telling me that the place has likely been for sale for a long time already. Upon driving around to the back side, we could see a bit more restoration had been started, including white paint over the yellow bricks. Upon returning home and looking the place up online, I found it had been built in 1903 to serve as a Hospital. I would have loved to walk around inside and/or seen pictures of what it used to look like inside. The building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and it is easy to see why even without knowing much more about it. If you'd like to own it, just visit this website! http://www.elywildwoods.com/component/hotproperty/?view=property&id=222
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I few years ago, something struck us as we were headed either to, or from a weekend kayaking excursion. Despite the fact that we live in one of the most populated areas of the state, if you get onto the right road in the right direction, it is amazing sometimes how fast you can find yourself out in the country. This Sunday evening we were feeling a bit adventurous, not wanting the weekend to end -and likely in need of a vacation. On a total whim we decided to drive north on Central Avenue (Hwy 65) just to see where we ended up and what we might see along the way. After going through Ham Lake and East Bethel, the city gradually thinned out and we soon found ourselves somewhere around Isanti. A brown sign for a county park caught our attention so we headed west towards the town of Oak Grove. At this point we realized from a map that we were surrounded by small towns in almost every direction. We decided on a destination of the town of "Oxlip" probably just because of it's odd name, and headed further west past Hwy 47 (or University Ave in the city). We found Oxlip to consist of pretty much just a few houses and a very large Evangelical Church. But just before the church was what looked to be a fairly old brick Schoolhouse on the north side of Cty Rd 5. We pulled into the driveway just for a quick look and photo. It was labeled "Victory School" and "District 68" above the main entrance but we could not locate a date anywhere. Based on the construction I'd guess it was from the 1920's or 30's. In the yard to the left was a very old looking metal playground slide and a flagpole with a faded out U.S. flag. There were also 2 cars parked here which made me wonder if it was being used as a house. Just a 1/4 mile or so east of this school was a nice old abandoned house. Unfortunately many old houses like this often sit on property located right next to a newer, occupied house, making me leery of stopping for a photo. This was not all the case, with no other houses for miles and I had a chance to walk around the property for just a bit. On the other side, you could see where the original frame was added on to. There was curious looking, angled entry way that jutted out even further from the addition. This side actually had a fair amount of white paint still clinging to the wooden siding, another hint at the history of the house. There was one more smaller building on the property, a sort of shed with a rusted metal roof but surprisingly intact glass windows. In hind sight I really wish I would have peeked inside there before leaving. We then set our sights on the next closest small town -Bradford. There were actually a few businesses here, including a newly renovated bar and restaurant called "Ravens" that called to us for a quick beer. Before heading back, we stopped at another abandoned house on the west side of Hwy 47 just south of the bar. This was a much larger house than the other, built in an "L" shape, with at least one dormer window and an added front porch. There were also two chimneys, one of which had almost completely crumbled away. The yard here was so overgrown that I couldn't even get that that close. A grapevine had attacked an devoured almost the entire front porch. At the back of the house was a porch that seemed to be part of the original construction -especially obvious by the layers of different colored shingles showing. There were a few barrels, a grill and even a mailbox tucked away behind the porch. Though much larger, I'd guess that this house was older than the other, simply by it's state of disrepair. Though the backside showed some paint the front side was mostly gray, weathered wood. I sure like this house and I wonder about who lived there.