The Historian of Park Avenue

As expected, Jim and Kristin Schoffman, their attorney Daniel Kennedy and architect Tod Elkins appealed the January 13th, 2009 denial of their application for a wrecking permit for the Pauline Fjelde house.

Their appeal was set to be considered by the Minneapolis Zoning and Planning Committee on February 26th. On February 20th, Ryan Knoke
sent out a message informing neighborhood residents and concerned citizens of the appeal and asked them to once again express their support for the preservation of the house and the denial of the wrecking permit. Ryan a marketing professional and writer, was very successful in inspiring responses and building a grass roots network. Ryan and his partner Montana had extensively researched the history of many Park Avenue houses and mansions. They created a walking tour which educated and delighted large groups of people each summer. They also spent years meticulously restoring their own Park Avenue home. Historian, Advocate, even lobbyist for Park Avenue, when Ryan called us to service, we answered.

—– Original Message —–
From: Ryan Knoke
Sent: Friday, February 20, 2009 10:20 AM
Subject: 3009 Park Ave Still In Danger: Your Help Needed!

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you again for writing such fantastic letters last month to the Mpls Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) in support of the preservation of the historic Pauline Fjelde House at 3009 Park Avenue.

As most of you know, on January 13 the HPC voted unanimously to deny the Schoffman’s demolition request and to support a historic designation study of the property. However, the house is far from saved and is still in danger of being demolished! The Schoffmans have since appealed the HPC’s decision and now this issue is going before the Mpls Zoning & Planning Commission during a public hearing next Thursday morning, February 26, at 9:30 a.m.

As such, 3009 Park Avenue-and the legacy of Pauline Fjelde-will now more than ever need your letters of support. Please send an email to the following Zoning & Planning Commissioners by no later than next Wednesday, February 25, letting them know that you oppose the demolition of 3009 Park Avenue for a parking lot and that you support the HPC’s request for a historic designation study. Please be sure and cc Elizabeth Glidden and the remaining City Council Members on your email. Your email can be as long or as short as you like, but please do take a moment to send one, as your voice really makes a difference! Please send to

Zoning & Planning Commissioners:

· Gary Schiff, chair:

· Ralph Remington, vice-chair:

· Lisa Goodman:

· Don Samuels:

· Cam Gordon:

· Sandy Colvin Roy:

Please CC these remaining City Council Members:

· Elizabeth Glidden:

· Paul Ostrow:

· Diane Hofstede:

· Robert Lilligren:

· Scott Benson:

· Barbara Johnson:

· Betsy Hodges:

In addition, Council Member Glidden has recently gone public with her opposition to the Schoffman’s demolition request and her support of the HPC’s decision for a historic designation study; I have copied her statement at the end of this email. Also for your interest, I have included below that a press release that the Minneapolis Historic Homeowner’s Association sent to local media immediately following January 13 HPC hearing. At the end of the press release is a short bio on Pauline Fjelde detailing her significance in our city’s and state’s history.

THANK YOU in advance for sending your letters of support for the preservation of this important historic resource to the Zoning & Planning Commission and for caring so much about this issue. And, if you are able to attend the public hearing next Thursday at 9:30 a.m., please do so, as well!


Ryan Knoke

Park Avenue Resident


I strongly agree with the decision of the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) to deny demolition and approve a historic designation study of 3009 Park Ave, a decision based in part on the city staff report recommending a designation study and information presented at a public hearing before the HPC. The property owner for 3009 Park Ave S has appealed the decision of the HPC to the City Council. The Zoning and Planning Committee of the Council will hold a public hearing on the appeal during its meeting on February 26th at 9:30 am. Residents are welcome to appear at the public hearing or submit written testimony. I would recommend that all interested in this topic forward written testimony to all councilmembers.

Elizabeth Glidden

Eighth Ward Councilmember

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Contact: Joel Baird, Chair, Minneapolis Historic Homeowners Association (MHHA)
Phone Number: (888) 888-8888

Heritage Preservation Commission Denies Wrecking Permit and Approves Interim Protection for Historic Pauline Fjelde House

Minneapolis, MN – On January 13th, 2009 the Heritage Preservation Commission of Minneapolis (HPC) heard arguments for and against a historic designation study of the Pauline Fjelde house at 3009 Park Avenue. Historic designation studies are performed to determine whether or not the significance of a property is sufficient to warrant designation and protection. Interim protection is afforded to structures during the course of such a study.

The hearing occurred as a result of property owner James Schoffman’s (Jakris Limited, Eagan, MN) petition to demolish the structure for a surface parking lot.

An HPC staff report presented at the hearing recommended a historic designation study for this property. The report indicates that the property is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, as well as City of Minneapolis Landmark status due to its association with the life of a person of significance: Pauline Fjelde, the maker of the first Minnesota State flag. The staff report suggests that the subject property surpasses local and national thresholds for significance and integrity required for designation.

In order to receive a permit to demolish a historic resource, a petitioner must prove that such action is necessary to correct an unsafe condition, or that no reasonable alternative exists. Mr. Schoffman’s wife, attorney and architect all spoke to these points at the hearing, arguing that the building was a fire and vagrancy threat, and that it would cost somewhere near $600,000 to bring the home back into useful condition.

Some of the testimony refuting the petitioner’s claims included neighborhood residents who noted similar properties nearby which had been renovated for less, a real estate professional, and former HPC Commissioner and restoration professional Bob Roscoe (of Design for Preservation) who indicated that after touring the house he believed it could be restored for roughly one third of the petitioner’s $600,000 estimate.

Ultimately, the Heritage Preservation Commission voted unanimously to deny the wrecking permit and establish interim protection of the Pauline Fjelde house, noting both that the property qualifies under designation guidelines, and that the owner failed to prove either that demolition was necessary to correct an unsafe condition or that no reasonable alternative existed.

About Pauline Fjelde

Pauline Fjelde was a highly skilled textile artist and painter and perhaps most notable locally for having embroidered the first Minnesota State flag along with her sister Thomane, who was also an accomplished textile artist. Pauline Fjelde is also credited with bringing the European Arts and Crafts movement to Norwegian-American textile arts, and some of her most important works-which she created during the time that she lived at 3009 Park Avenue between 1908 and 1918-have been on display with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and in a permanent collection at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Some of her oil paintings also reside at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Pauline hailed from a well-known and influential family of artisans, and many historians credit the Fjelde family with helping to establish Minneapolis as a prominent center for the arts. In particular, Pauline’s brother, Jacob Fjelde, was a highly successful sculptor whose works include the Goddess of Wisdom sculpture at the Minneapolis Public Library, the iconic Hiawatha and Minnehaha sculpture at Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, the Ole Bull sculpture in Loring Park, the life size bust of Henrik Ibsen in Como Park in St. Paul, and the Minnesota Monument at Gettysburg.

3009 Park Avenue was originally designed for Pauline Fjelde in 1907 by architects Boehme and Cordella who also designed-among other notable structures-the Swan J. Turnblad Mansion (current home of the American Swedish Institute) at 2600 Park Avenue, just four blocks north of the Fjelde home. There are only six extant examples of residential structures designed by this prominent Minneapolis firm.


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