Preservation Case Studies

The following case studies are part of a larger project being undertaken by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, highlighting “best practices” within the field of preservation and rehabilitation throughout the state of Minnesota.

We hope that these case studies will not only highlight work that has been completed in all regions of Minnesota, but will also help spark some ideas for what to do with underutilized, disinvested, abandoned, and otherwise endangered historic properties across the state. Projects presented in the case studies highlight buildings that are typically seen as challenging when it comes to finding compatible new uses – schools, train depots, downtown hotels, religious houses of worship, and breweries. In addition to providing reuse ideas for these, and potentially other structures, the case studies provide insight into numerous advocacy techniques (partnering with anti-freeway organizations), and funding sources that go beyond the federal Historic Preservation Rehabilitation Tax Credit.

This is an ongoing project, so check back periodically to read new case studies from across the state.

The Alliance would like to extend a huge Thank You to intern Maianne Preble who dedicated much of the summer of 2009 preparing these studies.

Graystone Hotel – Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Graystone Hotel, located at 119 Pioneer Street in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota is an excellent example of how a former downtown hotel can be reused as an affordable apartment complex. The hotel was built in 1916 and operated as a downtown hotel until 1963, after which it was converted into apartments.

The success of Graystone Hotel illustrates how disinvestment does not always take the form of complete abandonment, and that buildings that are struggling to remain economically viable are present excellent opportunities for rehabilitation.

Fitger’s Brewery – Duluth, Minnesota

Fitger’s Inn, located at 600 East Superior Street in Duluth, Minnesota, the former brewery was built between 1881 and 1911 and operated as a beverage producer until its closure in 1972.  Today the Brewery is an excellent example of how such a complex can be rehabilitated into a multifunctional space, catering to both local residents and tourists.

Redeemer Missionary Baptist Church – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Redeemer Missionary Baptist Church, located at 116 East 32nd Street in Minneapolis, Minnesota is an excellent example of how a religious building can be reused after the original congregation has moved away. The Prairie style church was built in 1909 by William Gray Purcell and George Feick as a Presbyterian “mission church” for the Lyndale neighborhood. It was rehabilitated from a Presbyterian church to a Baptist church in 1999.

Riverwood Pines Apartments – Little Falls, Minnesota

Riverwood Pines Apartments, located at 18795 Riverwood Drive in Little Falls, Minnesota is an excellent example of how a former school building can be reused as an affordable apartment complex. The school was built in 1911 and operated as a parochial boarding school until 1969, after which it remained vacant for nearly 30 years.  In 2007 the school reopened as the Riverwood Pines Apartments.

The success of Riverwood Pines illustrates that with the proper owner and use, buildings with long-term vacancies can be preserved and rehabilitated to become vital spaces for a community.

Palace Theater – Luverne, Minnesota

The Palace Theater, located at 104 E Main St in Luverne, Minnesota is an excellent example of how a main street vaudeville theater can embrace modern technology to continue functioning as a local performing arts venue. The theater was built in 1915 and operated as a vaudeville and motion picture venue until its closure in 1977.

The transfer of ownership to the City of Luverne, as well as ongoing restoration work, has returned the Theater to a prominent local resource and it now serves the community as a performing arts venue.

Waseca Depot – Waseca, Minnesota

The Waseca Depot, located at 231 West Elm Avenue in Waseca, Minnesota is an excellent example of how a railroad depot can be reused for a new small business. The former Minneapolis & St. Louis passenger depot was built in 1913 and operated as a depot until 1959. In 1960, the depot was altered to become a locally owned liquor store. The depot was restored in 2000 and now operates as a boutique home store, Zinnias.

The success of the preservation of the former Minneapolis & St. Louis depot in Waseca demonstrates how local government involvement can be paramount to the protection of historic resources until a qualified investor and use can be found.