St. Agatha’s Conservatory of Music and Art

As the nineteenth century began to wind down, the residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul became eager to establish institutions that would nurture American culture while enhancing a reputation of philanthropy within the music and art communities of the Twin Cities. The task of enriching residents with these types of cultural institutions was taken up by notable names like William Dunwoody and James J....

Artist Nicholas Brewer

Nicholas Brewer was a prominent 19th-century portrait and landscape painter. He was born in Olmsted County and was raised on a farm along the Root River. He was a student at the National Academy of Design in New York, where he also exhibited. Once he moved back to Minnesota, Brewer painted a crucifixion scene in the Cathedral of St. Paul. He was highly sought...

John S. Bradstreet – The Apostle of Good Taste

Names like Louis Comfort Tiffany and Gustav Stickley are well rooted in many American’s minds as two of the key players in interior design and the decorative arts of the early twentieth century. For the emerging upper-middle class in Minneapolis, it was a craftsman closer to home that excelled in creating handsomely-crafted pieces locally. John Bradstreet’s position as a tastemaker in the city was...

Waverly’s Moderne Village Hall

The original village hall in Waverly was built in 1893. The two-story, brick and stone building sat on the corner of Third Street and Elm Avenue. Built in the Romanesque style, the town hall featured a large corner tower that looked out over the small village. It was the home to the city’s government offices, fire department, and jail. The upper floor of the...

Selby Avenue Streetcar Tunnel in St. Paul Gallery

More information about the Selby Avenue Streetcar Tunnel can be found here.

Van Cleve Park

Ice skating at Van Cleve Park in Minneapolis in 1901. This 1.5-acre pond was created in the southern half of the park in 1890. That winter, and for several years after, the park board cleared the snow from the pond so it could serve as a skating rink in the winter. A warming house was added for skaters in 1905. So, who were the Van...

Bernard Pietenpol – The Father of the Home Built Airplane

A new dawn of mechanical advancement was brought to the forefront of American consciousness because of the burgeoning automobile industry after World War I. Dreamers and adventurers alike were captivated by the use of airplanes during the war. Many Americans were eager to experiment with building their own airplanes or improving motorized aviation technology. Tinkering with cheap and practical home built aircraft became common...

The Gales of November: George Herbert Shipwreck

It was a typical Monday morning for the crew of the flat-bottomed scow, George Herbert. Captain Charlie Johnson and lumber clerk William Hicks were discussing their trip one-hundred miles up the north shore of Lake Superior with provisions for the M.H. Coolidge Lumber Company. Three other crew members, Ole Nelson, George Olson, and Ole Miller were loading shovels, axes, smoked meats, coffee, whiskey, and...

Upper Post of Fort Snelling Gallery

James J. Hill’s North Oaks Farm

James J. Hill was the preeminent transportation pioneer in the American Northwest. He arrived in St. Paul, Minnesota on a steamboat in 1856 and planned on becoming a trapper and trader. Instead, he found work with a steamboat company. During the Civil War, Hill learned the business of buying, selling, and transporting goods. Through connections made during this time, he was able to move...

Lilac Way: Showcase of the Belt Line

Although it’s difficult to tell now, Highway 100 in the west metro was once one of the most beautiful and serene roads in the nation. The roadway was conceived just after the start of the Great Depression as a joint venture between the National Recovery Work Relief Program (which would later become the Works Progress Administration) and the Minnesota Highway Department. Highway 100 would...

Turnblad’s Painted Window

This hand-blown, enamel-painted window can be seen on the grand stairway landing of the American Swedish Institute (formerly the Turnblad mansion). The ornate window is a reproduction of the painting Valdemar IV Atterdag Holding Visby to Ransom by Carl Gustaf Hellqvist. The Danish King Valdemar IV is seen sitting on his throne to the right with his army in the background. The Danish have threatened to...

The Nankin Cafe

The Nankin Cafe was a downtown Minneapolis landmark for over 80 years. Founder Walter James opened the Chinese restaurant at 14 South Seventh Street in 1919. The restaurant’s popularity soared — customers would come from all over the upper midwest to eat at the Nankin. In the 1950s, the Nankin moved into a larger space across the street and then relocated to City Center...

Minnesota’s First Vocational School

In February 1915, students poured into the first vocational school in the state. Located in the mining town of Eveleth, this school was the first education building in Minnesota to be devoted entirely to industrial subjects. The Prairie School style building was designed by William Bray and Carl Nystrom of Duluth for around $48,000. The building was constructed of gray Menominee brick and terra...

Architecture of the State – The Rochester State Hospital

In 1873, the State of Minnesota was looking for a way to house an increasingly problematic group of residents —“habitual drunkards.” In order to pay for a facility to care for these individuals, the state legislature passed a bill that year that would implement a $10 tax on all liquor dealers in the state. As you can imagine, the liquor dealers were strongly opposed...