Wednesday, July 22, 2009

History, Architecture, and Tours...Oh My!

I'm very happy to share that mine and Montana's second annual Historic Park Avenue Walking Tour ("From Queen Annes to Classical Revivals: Stories of Park Avenue and Its People") once again broke attendance records for any previous Mpls Heritage Preservation Commission-sponsored summer walking tour. Despite early morning downpours, 110 people came out on a very overcast Saturday morning on June 27 to walk five blocks (from the corner of 31st and Park to a gorgeous 1898 Victorian on the 3600 block of Park) over the course of two hours to learn about the prominent architects, builders, and original owners of the street's fine residences. Along the route, we passed a lovely structure at 3550-52 Park: a gorgeous Spanish/Mediterranean-style brick apartment building designed by prominent Architect Carleton W. Farnham in 1928.

How does any of this relate to the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center? Well, Carleton W. Farnham also designed the lovely two-story, 1925 Arts & Crafts-style brick building at 3740 Chicago Avenue South, directly across the street from the future home of CAFAC! And, for those of you who don't already know, the future home of CAFAC (at 3749 Chicago) was once the home of the historic Nokomis Theater, which was originally built in 1915 as a silent moving picture theater, but underwent a major expansion in 1928-1929 under Architect Joseph Nason.

Therefore...with so much amazing historic architecture just two blocks away on Park Avenue, and two known important structures at the intersection of 38th and Chicago, one can only imagine how many other gems exist at this once (and soon to be again!) bustling business node. (I guess I have some more research to do!) And, since there is obviously so much public interest in the history and architecture of this immediate area of south Minneapolis (as evidenced in record-breaking attendance two years in a row for the Park Avenue walking tours), once my 38th and Chicago research is may be time to host a historic architectural walking tour of 38th and Chicago, too! Ending, of course, with a special tour of the restored Nokomis Theater building (CAFAC)!

You can learn more about the history of the Nokomis Theater/CAFAC's future home—and plans for the restoration—at


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