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introduction: East Phillips boarded housing

The boarded houses of the East Phillips neighborhood have been nominated for the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota's "Ten Most Endangered Sites" listing for 1999. The purpose of this listing is to raise public awareness of historic resources across the state which are threatened by neglect or demolition. Public support and intervention are needed in order to allow the structures to survive. Approximately 25 nominations are expected for consideration this year.


The demolition of 2 of the properties since completion of the photographic survey on March 8 only serves to highlight the fragility of the resource and the accelerating rate of destruction. Approximately 61 houses in East Phillips are boarded, with a substantial number currently in the hands of MCDA. Several of these properties are on the demolition list, including the 1911 Greek Revival duplex at 2913-15 17th Avenue South. Neighborhood efforts have centered on preserving this property, strategically located on a strong block adjacent to the future Midtown Greenway. This house's tenuous status is symptomatic of a larger problem of policies and agendas which poorly serve older neighborhoods.


The boarded houses of East Phillips represent practical, turn-of-the-century residential housing for new immigrants, workers, managers and professionals during the peak industrial expansion of lumber, railroads and flour milling in Minneapolis. They are built with lumber and architectural details no longer available today. Even though some of them were built as "temporary housing", the quality of materials and craftsmanship used in their construction has already allowed them to survive more than 80 years. What "replacement housing", even if available, can make such a claim?


The variety of styles found in the East Phillips boarded housing includes Queen Anne, Second Empire, Greek Revival, Tudor and craftsman-built foursquares and bungalows. The relatively high urban density and mature trees in many areas creates an attractive "village" character and true community on the blocks. Continued loss of housing destroys this and leaves vacant, untended lots which are difficult to maintain.


The nomination will focus attention and resources on the boarded houses to:

  • highlight the effect of ineffective policies that discourage investment and renovation of properties held in trust by public agencies,
  • coalesce neighborhood interest into development and support of a housing inventory and overall plan,
  • build public support for a moratorium on further demolition until a comprehensive plan is developed,
  • provide visibility to preservation-minded individuals of opportunities offered in the neighborhood,
  • foster creativity and vision in new ways to build and strengthen older neighborhoods using the "built history" in a positive way.

Look for pictures and further updates to come.


Sue Anderson

email: sanderson@tiroinc.com



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