Stevens Square Historic District

You can read about the history and designation of the Stevens Square historic landmark.

Stevens Square District Map

Stevens Square District Design Guidelines

Three-story apartment building
on East 19th Street

Stevens Square Park,1936

Boundaries: Generally bounded by First Avenue South, 17th Street East, Third Avenue South, Franklin Avenue, and including the alley just west of First Avenue.

Neighborhood: Stevens Square/Loring Heights

Date of Local Designation: 1989

Date of National Designation: 1993

Historic Profile: The Stevens Square Historic District is mainly comprised of apartment buildings and single-family houses constructed during the 1910s and 1920s. Centered around Stevens Square park, these brick apartment buildings played a significant role in the residential development of Minneapolis before and after World War I. The district is contained within a one and one-half block radius of the park. It is roughly bounded by 17th Street East on the north, Franklin Avenue on the south, Third Avenue on the east, and First Avenue on the west, including the alley just west of First Avenue.

Colonel John Harrington Stevens originally settled on the area now designated as the Stevens Square Historic District in 1849. Colonel Stevens, a veteran of the Mexican War, acquired this land after receiving permission from the U.S. Government to settle west of the Mississippi River, an area later to become the City of Minneapolis. The same year, he built what is popularly believed to be the first house in Minneapolis. The house, however, was moved in 1896 to its present location in Minnehaha State Park. The land on which Stevens Square sits today was given to the City and designated as a park in 1907.

The Stevens Square residential neighborhood was primarily used for farm and nursery land until the late 1880s when it began to be occupied by single-family houses. Growing downtown employment opportunities attracted young, single workers to Minneapolis from the rural areas of Minnesota. The expansion of the streetcar system along Nicollet and Third Avenues prompted the further development of the area. Financed by various developers during the 1910s and 1920s, three-story apartment buildings satisfied the rapidly increasing need for affordable, small-unit housing. By 1919, the Stevens Square area was the highest-density residential area in the city.

The neighborhood is unique because of its remarkable consistency in its housing characteristics, design, and appearance. The apartment buildings themselves are constructed of brown brick with occasional stone, terra cotta, and tile detailing. All of the buildings show an amazing degree of detail in the entries, cornices, and quoining, and have not been considerably altered since their construction. The first large apartment constructed in the area was Stevens Court (128-132 E. 18th St.), in 1912. The district is significant as a total expression of the convergence of development trends, housing markets, design, building regulations, and land available as a result of historical circumstance, at a particular moment in Minneapolis history.

Photo Credits:

1936, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

1936, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Works Cited:

City of Minneapolis, "Local Heritage Preservation Designation Study," September 1986.

Updated May 2010

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