Year-round learning about home styles and neighborhoods

Between tours, I look for information on a variety of housing styles and ideas for remodeling and construction, hoping also for help identifying people interested in showing their homes. In the past few months, I attended a forum on fighting to preserve historically significant buildings, a tour of the "B" Line rapid transit line in Saint Paul, a three-hour class on mid-century homes, and I toured the Passive House in south Minneapolis. 

In recent years, we've had requests to feature homes built more recently than the Victorians, 19-teens and 1920's homes that often are the bulk of the Minneapolis & Saint Paul Home Tour. People are looking for ways to adapt and add character to the homes built in the 1950s and 1960s, and even later. Such homes are and always have been welcome on the tour - we need people to nominate them, and they need to be in the cities of Minneapolis or Saint Paul. 

One of the most interesting revelations about mid-century homes — we often think of the demand created by returning war veterans starting families. What's not widely understood is manufacturers who had adapted their factories to assembly lines for making war materials repurposed those facilities after the war to turn out mass-produced house parts. So though it took a while, once they ramped up, thousands of homes could be quickly built. 

The Cape Cods, the ramblers may seem small now, but for those who had doubled up with relatives, or lived in quonset huts until the builders could keep up, two or three bedrooms with expansion space seemed like heaven. Kids shared rooms. Basements were finishable for recreation, and often the attic space could be finished later.

Thanks to the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota for many of these home style and community tour resources. For information on classes, explore their website 

— Margo Ashmore, MSP Home Tour Coordinator