The Schoffman’s appealed the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission’s unanimous denial of their wrecking permit application for the Pauline Fjelde House. Jim Schoffman deferred his testimony to his attorney Daniel Kennedy and architect Tod Elkins. Elkins stated that he thought the HPC staff planners report was inaccurate and incomplete. He said that both the exterior and interior of the house no longer retained its historic integrity or evoked a feeling of the past.

Attorney Daniel Kennedy greeted the director of CPED’s zoning department and the City attorney listening attentively to every word as if they were old friends. He said that the house had sustained extensive damage, was unsafe and should be removed. He cited rehabilitation costs of $600,000 which far exceeded the market value and resale cost of the house.
He considered the year or year and a half to complete a historic landmark designation study a waste of time and the expenditure a waste of money.

Kristin Schoffman was the last to testify at the public hearing. She stated that she and her husband were the sole employees of a small business…and that they were doing their best to “survive.” They had purchased the brick commercial building on Lake Street directly adjacent to the Pauline Fjelde house when it was a tax forfeiture and wanted to demolish the house to provide parking for their tenant businesses. Once they discovered that the house was listed on the little known 800 list of historic properties, they offered to sell it for $1.00 to anyone who would move it.

No one wanted it, she said. It was an eyesore.

She spoke of the negative criticism she and her husband had received. In her opinion, the best way to honor Pauline Fjelde would be through some educational effort at the Minnesota historical society.

Jakris…James and Kris.

The testimony of the Fjelde adovates was strong. There was a multi-generation group of experienced preservation advocates, Bob Roscoe, Diane Montgomery, Bob Glancy and Susan Hunter Weir joined by the young historians and old house restorers Ryan Knoke, Brian Finstad and Connie Nompelis. They made their case. The Zoning and Planning Committee voted unanimously to deny the Schoffman’s appeal. Their was a sense of confidence in this second vote for the preservation of the house from an official group of the City of Minneapolis.

But…to use a favorite phrase of historian Ken Burns’ “in the months to come” as the work on the historic designation study proceeded…the house was at the center of an active effort by its owners to leave it vulnerable to trespass as the deliberate damage to its structural integrity continued and the action by the Fjelde advocates to protect the house and stop the destruction continued…until major life changes intervened directing their attention and energy elsewhere.


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