Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Brief History of the Homewood Neighborhood in Minneapolis

Since I am a nerd when it comes to historic homes and neighborhoods, I wanted to do some research on my new surroundings so I could learn more about the history of the area and the people that had lived here.  

So here's what I learned about the beginnings of Homewood, enjoy!
Cozy Homes in Farwell and Homewood Neighborhoods, Postcard 1920
The earlier history of this neighborhood includes a period around 1908 to 1920 when Jewish and African-American people were excluded by covenant from purchasing homes in this development. Stone markers were erected at the corners of this eighty-acre plot of land to indicate its exclusivity. In short, Homewood was an early version of the gated community.

Because these large and beautiful homes were "out in the country" back then, not many of the targeted wealthy Scandinavian merchants responded by purchasing homes here. The covenant against Jewish people was lifted and the homes sold well until the development was full.  
Gates to Homewood, 1914, 11th block of Penn Ave

Corner of Plymouth and Sheriden 1957
The neighborhood remained predominantly Jewish in nature and culture well into the fifties and early sixties. During this time a bustling business district, including the Homewood Theater, the Homewood Market, the Homewood Hospital and the Homewood Bowling Alley thrived along Plymouth Avenue, it was a beautiful community and a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family.

Then in the early sixties, problems of deteriorated housing, lack of jobs, concentrated areas of poverty and frustration with civil rights issues accelerated. In 1967, race riots broke out along Plymouth Avenue. The once bustling business district was destroyed by looting, fires, and shootings, the damages estimated around 4.2 million dollars. 
Aftermath of the 1967 Riots along Plymouth Ave.
Since the riots, Plymouth Ave has never been the same. The neighborhood had changed and the lure of the suburbs attracted many of the residents from Homewood. Homes that had been in families for generations were put up for rent. Less stable populations of residents moved in and out much more frequently. City and community resources were diverted to other areas. What was once one of the more affluent and desirable areas of the city sank into disrepute and disrepair.


Forty years later, our neighborhood is building a new valuable identity. Campaigns like the 'Get to NOMI' (NOrth MInneapolis) were started aimed at getting people reacquainted with North Minneapolis, showing the benefits of the arts, parks, business, diversity, and gorgeous affordable homes.

It is obvious to those people who have lived in the neighborhood for 30 or 40 years, the neighborhood is at a turning point. In our time here we hope we get to see the community evolve even further and make more progress. Just in the year we have been here, we have seen many positive changes, I can't help but passionate and hopeful for the future of North Minneapolis. 


Please let me know if you have other information about the history of North Minneapolis or the Homewood neighborhood.  I'd love to add to this post with more info or photos!

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