Washburn-Fair Oaks Historic District

You can read about the history and designation of the Washburn Fair-Oaks historic landmark.


Washburn-Fair Oaks District map

Washburn-Fair Oaks District Design Guidelines

Read about our effort to update the design guidelines


W.D. Washburn Residence, 1886


Minneapolis Institute of Art, 1920

Boundaries: Generally bounded by Franklin Avenue, Fourth Avenue South, Interstate 35W, 26th Street East and the alley between First Avenue South and Nicollet Avenue.

Neighborhood(s): Whittier

Date of Local Designation: 1976

Date of National Designation: 1978

Historic Profile: The Washburn-Fair Oaks Historic District contains a significant concentration of residences built at the turn of the century by prominent Minneapolis developers. These residences exemplify the fashionable stylistic modes of architecture during this period and were designed by important local architects, including William Channing Whitney and Ernest Kennedy. The designated area is defined by East Franklin Avenue on the north, Interstate 35W on the east, East 26th Street on the south and the alley between Nicollet Avenue and First Avenue South on the west, but it also reaches over to include the former Christian Scientist Church at the corner of Nicollet Avenue and East 24th Street. Washburn Fair Oaks Park, originally the site of Senator W. D. Washburn’s home "Fair Oaks," gives the area its name and serves as an aesthetic core. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2400 Third Ave. S.), designed by McKim, Mead and White in 1912, operates as the area’s major landmark and activity center.

In the early years of Minneapolis’ history the most desirable and prestigious residential areas were located close to the hub of activity, the city’s central business district. As the population grew, however, prominent families began to move away from the once choice areas of town and build their large and elegant homes along the outer edges of the city. The pockets of fine residential structures along the 1866 city limits of Minneapolis testify to this trend, which began as early as the 1870s.

Although incorporated into the city in 1867, intensive settlement of the Washburn-Fair Oaks District did not begin until the early 1870s. Improved transportation furthered development of the area. In addition to elegant homes, single- and two-family houses and large apartments began to fill the vacant land. New settlement of the area continued until about 1930.

The Washburn-Fair Oaks District provides a varied platter of popular architectural styles that existed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of the structures have retained their original designs although their functions have changed. The Luther Farrington House (2100 Stevens Ave.) and both of the Crosby houses (2104 Stevens Ave. and 2105 First Ave.) represent examples of the Georgian Revival style. The two Pillsbury houses (100 and 116 E. 22nd St.) reflect characteristics of the Medieval Revival, while the Edward Gale House (2115 Stevens Ave.) is Renaissance Revival in conception. The E.A. Merrill Residence (2116 Second Ave.) represents the fanciful complexities of the late Victorian brownstone era.

Photo Credits:

1886, the Washburn Residence was razed in 1924, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

1920, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Works Cited:

The City of Minneapolis, "Washburn-Fair Oaks: A Study for Preservation," June 1975.

"National Register of Historic Places – Nomination Form," September 1977.

Updated April May 2010

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