Milwaukee Avenue, Minneapolis

[Photo of Milwaukee Avenue]

The houses in the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District were developed between 1883 and 1895 in what is now the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. These low-cost vernacular structures with brick cladding and gingerbread trim were populated by Scandinavian and Eastern European immigrants who worked for the nearby Milwaukee Railroad shops and other industries.

In the early 1970s, the City of Minneapolis planned to raze these homes along with 70% of the neighboring 35-block area in a gambit to address blight and “renew” urban housing stock. Visionary neighbors recognized the integrity of the original Milwaukee Avenue houses; they successfully challenged City Hall’s plans and advanced an alternative that emphasized historic preservation. Although eleven of the original houses were eventually demolished, most were preserved and rehabilitated, with new foundations, restored facades, and reconstructed replica porches. The houses front on a narrow street that was converted to a pedestrian walkway, and the entire district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Minneapolis historic landmark district. In September 2007, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota hosted a self-guided walking tour of the restored homes that attracted over 700 visitors.