MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A multi-year historic renovation of a Twin Cities monument is finally complete. The Oaklands on 9th – the first apartment building ever to be built in Minneapolis – sits in the shadow of the Foshay Tower in downtown Minneapolis.
When the demolition seemed to be going ahead, a developer stepped in and the community grew stronger. Dozens of developers have said no to repairing the structure, but now – two years and $ 1.5 million later – the Oaklands on 9th still have new life.
“When we started, the inspectors weren’t even entering the building because it smelled so bad,” said owner John Kistler.
The building actually predates electricity. The 1889 building survived four fires, years without a roof, and ultimately the wrecking ball. It’s a majestic throwback to a simpler time.
Pieces donated by people who have heard of the project are scattered around the 24-unit building. Original pieces like a mahogany hallway really stand out, but it took a while to get there. The entrance was covered with over 30 coats of paint.
The original ceramic tiles chosen by architect Harry Wild Jones were hidden under no less than five layers of flooring.
Will Wagner was there every day to bring the old building to life.
“It warms your heart to know that I was such a big part of a project that saved part of history,” he said.
Independent contractors helped cut costs, but city support was essential. City code exceptions along the way made the project feasible.
“Lisa Goodman not only saved this building, but she also saved hundreds of buildings during her time as a city councilor,” Kistler said.
The hundreds of volunteers who stopped by to paint a wall, tile a floor, bring the crew a meal, or just to admire, really made it shine.
“Sometimes people come on scooters, then stop and take a picture. It’s just unexpected, ”Kistler said. “It’s going to be here in Minneapolis, serving Minneapolis for another 150 years. It’s incredible.”
People moved in this month and some of the rooms are now vacation rentals, so if you want to stay in a piece of Minneapolis history, you can.