Friday, January 15, 2010
Who Will Save the Sheltering Arms House?
Guest post by the Hawthorne Hawkman. Contributed Photo.
Although I'm not sure of the original source, I've been told of an Eastern proverb that you are responsible for the life you save. I look at that saying and think that one act of kindness isn't enough; once you've extended your hand in that way then your connection to that person is ongoing. That's quite similar to how I feel about a certain house in the Hawthorne neighborhood that is at risk of being demolished. After a bit of research, I've come to call this place "The Sheltering Arms House." The property is located at...
...2648-50 Emerson Ave N. It's been vacant for quite some time and I drive past it at least once almost every day. From the very beginning of my time in Hawthorne, this house stood out as one with architectural features that just aren't incorporated into houses being built today. I've called it in numerous times when it's been open to trespass. I've kind of "adopted" this house, and I feel that connection to its fate. This is a house that does not deserve to be demolished.
Up until today, the house has either been called by its address (which is clunky) or referred to as "The Purple House." I did some research, however, and found some early building permits (link goes to the JNS pdf support site where other documents will be added as they are found). The original owner of the house is listed as "Sheltering Arms." There is even a "matron" listed on the permit: Florence B. Hynes. How interesting is that? A matron of the house in 1908 listed right on the permit?
Although I can't be sure yet, I think there's a strong possibility that the "Sheltering Arms" owner of this house in 1908 was the predecessor to Minneapolis' Sheltering Arms Foundation. It appears that the home was built as a group home, perhaps for orphans. This house may have been the first such home owned by Sheltering Arms in Minneapolis. Given that the permit is titled "Permit to build outside of fire limits," it would seem that the house was built in what would have been the 'burbs in 1908. So this is almost certainly the first such home in NoMi.
There's no doubt that repairing this home will be a significant undertaking. But it is a four-plex that appears to have actually been built that way. In a neighborhood where so many of our mult-unit housing has been poorly spliced and diced, this house is also unique. Given that it sits on the border of the Hawthorne and Jordan neighborhoods, its place in NoMi's history is substantial. To tear it down, as is being proposed, will be to lose that piece of our communal history forever.
I will continue to research this property in attempts to find out more of its history. JNS readers, please share what you know as well. The Sheltering Arms House can be saved. The question is, who wants to save it?