Monday, June 1, 2009

Finding Out Minneapolis Home History Is EASY...

Photo By John Hoff

Some days ago, Realtor and historic house buff Connie Nompelis (No-buhl-iss, it's Greek) paid me to perform a bit of historical research on houses in NoMi (North Minneapolis) including her own $7,900 treasure known as the Hawthorne Princess. Connie wanted the original building permits for the houses, one of which turned out to be from the 1880s.

Connie assured me the research would be easy and wouldn't take long, that all I needed to do was "go to the place where you get building permits, get on one of the public computers there, and you can pull up the original building permits for these houses."

Unconvinced the task would be as easy as Connie said, but in my usual steel-nosed mission-oriented posture, prepared to die if necessary, I advanced via the skybridge system to find this purported trove of historical house data...

I quickly found "the place where you get permits," which was easy enough. I'd been there before. I asked, uncertainly, about some computer? Where I could pull up "original building permits?"

The lady at the desk pointed me that-a-way. I pulled up the right website, and figured out how to use it. The site was, I must say, really clunky and had an acute case of case sensitivity, but learning its quirks by trial and error only took a few minutes.

After pulling up all the data Connie needed (minus some lacuna in the records) (Yes, I said "lacuna") I went rogue and started researching a few other houses. I found out the house I once owned in the Eco Village (3016 6th St. N.) was originally built by "day labor." That makes sense, I thought. It was always a humble little house, right from the start. Thank goodness I managed to sell it for development and almost double my money.

I printed out a copy of the original "3016" building permit, as a souvenir, then turned my attention to 3020 6th St. N., the notorious crack house which is now boarded and vacant, yet another Hawthorne success story. What sort of family built that place, I wondered.

Well, it turned out their name was "Stack." How amazing. That house went from being the "Stack House" to being the "crack house." The more things change, the more they change very little.

I researched another house that's very special to me and found out the family who originally owned that house was named "Warnke." I rolled that around in my head a bit. Warnke. The Warnke House.

No relation to Mike Warnke, author of The Satan Sellers, I earnestly hoped.

I did a little checking on WIkipedia. Nope, that guy is not from Minnesota. Good enough.

I was amazed how easy it was to dig up fascinating historical nuggets which shifted my perspective and left me with a deeper sense of NoMi identity. Naturally, I thought, I'm going to run right out and tell everybody on my blog.


Anonymous said...

John, that looks just like mine- a "permit to build outside the fire protection district". BTW, my house has almost doubled in size since 1887 and I found no permit for any addition- perhaps lax building permit enforcement isn't a new Minneapolis problem? You can also tell a lot of history by the other permits- looks like we got city water in 1910, electricity in 1922, but no sewers until 1937 (thank you, WPA!).


Johnny Northside said...

Yes, Dyna, some of the documents had that title, "Permit To Build Outside Fire Protection District." Strange to think at one time North Minneapolis had that designation.

Anonymous said...

Hey, this is Brian. I just forgot my "Google" password shit forever ago. I have to many passwords in my life to remember anyhow. I was just curious if you found out anything about the house next door to the Hawthorne Princess since its construction was identical?

Johnny Northside said...

Brian, I gave the paperwork to Connie. You have Connie's contact info?