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Lawsuit filed over demolition of historic Minneapolis home at 2320 Colfax

After a controversial demolition vote last month, a preservation group believes they can stop the teardown of the 15-unit rooming house for a 45-unit apartment building.

The Healy house at 2320 Colfax in Minneapolis.
MinnPost photo by Karen Boros

A lawsuit to prevent the demolition of a T.P. Healy house at 24th and Colfax in Minneapolis was filed Wednesday against property owner Mike Crow.

The Minneapolis City Council voted last week to allow demolition of the building, constructed in 1893 by master builder Theron Potter Healy, to make way for a four story 45-unit apartment building.

The lawsuit was filed by The Healy Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the Healy’s legacy. (Here’s the complaint and one memorandum.)  In an announcement (below), the organization claims they will establish that the house is an historic resource, and that there are viable options to demolition. 

In 1893, Healy built four houses. The building near 24th and Hennepin is the only one still standing. It is currently being used as a 15-unit rooming house. The house is designated as an historic resource by the Historic Preservation Commission but has not been upgraded to historical designation as a landmark.

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At a hearing on the demolition application, city staff testified that the house interior lost integrity following a 1980s fire and extensive remodeling.

There are currently more than 100 Healy houses in Minneapolis, many with historical designation.

Here’s the announcement:

The Healy Project has filed suit against the owner in District Court to prevent the demolition of the Orth House, 2320 Colfax Avenue South, in Minneapolis. The lawsuit  will establish that the property is a historic resource and that the property will be  preserved for the benefit of future generations of Minnesotans. Moreover, the lawsuit will establish that there are viable options to demolition for this property.

Last year the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission declared the Orth House an historic resource, exemplifying the work of a master builder and architect, Theron Potter Healy. As noted in a 1981 Twin Cities magazine article (“Legacy of a Master Builder: Theron Healy’s Dream of Minneapolis Lingers in his Queen Anne Architecture”), the house is the transitional design in Healy’s illustrious career. The Orth House is the only one of the four built by Healy in 1893 that is still standing. If left uncorrected, demolition of the Orth house represents an unacceptable and irreplaceable loss to the current and future residents of Minneapolis.

The Healy Project will present various options for redevelopment of the property, including adaptive reuse and integrating the house with new construction. We envision a Wedge streetscape that includes a mixture of old and new buildings of various styles, offering a variety of housing options affordable to all economic classes of residents and future city residents.

We look forward to partnering with the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association, the City, and city residents in building a sustainable city from our existing housing stock.