Heritage Preservation Commission
02/01/11 - 01/31/14
John Franceschelli, III
02/01/13 - 01/31/16
02/01/12 - 01/31/15
02/01/12 - 01/31/15
02/01/13 - 01/31/16
Assistant City Planner
Farmington Heritage Landmarks are buildings, sites, structures and districts that have been designated by the City Council in recognition of their historical, architectural, archaeological or cultural significance. Properties are nominated for landmark designation by the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) with the consent of the owners. Once a property has been designated a Farmington Heritage Landmark by the City Council, it cannot be demolished or moved without a special permit approved by the HPC (remodeling and maintenance work does not always require commission approval).
Farmington has recognized sixteen landmarks and they are featured below in order of their designation.
345 Third Street
The Fletcher Building is a two-story brick commercial building located on the northeast corner of Third and Oak, in the heart of downtown Farmington’s central business district. It is eligible for Heritage Landmark designation because it embodies the distinctive characteristics of the Italianate-influenced vernacular commercial block property type.
It is Farmington’s oldest extant commercial building and is notable for its well preserved Chaska brick facade.
The property is also historically significant for its association with the broad pattern of commercial development in downtown Farmington. Although it is fundamentally a vernacular construction, rather than an architect-designed specimen of period architecture, the ornamental aspects of its facade reflect the influence of the Italianate style. Dominating one corner of the downtown’s most important business intersections, it is an imposing edifice with a strong overall shape and firm lines. It is the oldest standing brick commercial building in downtown Farmington and was also the first “fire-proof” building built in the town. Contextually, the Fletcher Building also relates to the growth of downtown Farmington as a center of commerce between 1870 and 1945. With the Exchange Bank Building, the Fletcher Building anchors the historic Third and Oak commercial intersection and is of pivotal importance to preserving the historic character of the area.
In 1877, the Fletcher Building was built for and owned by Asa Fletcher, a grocer and one of Farmington’s pioneer businessmen. Its construction helped signal the end of the economic slump caused by the panic of 1873. One of the first multi-story buildings in town, it was one of the visual and financial anchors for downtown development and soon became a community landmark. The Fletcher Building featured a combination of retail shops, common rooms, offices, and apartments. Throughout most of its history, the ground-floor business space in the building was used for retailing, first as a general store and later for specialty shops. Use of the second floor space was more eclectic. When the Ringling Bros. circus came to town, the property was the venue for the first trapeze performance. The second floor commons room was rented out for many years by the Canby Post No. 47 of the Grand Army of the Republic, the national organization of Civil War veterans who served in the Union army or navy. Later this second-floor space was converted to small offices and apartments.
Designated on 05/21/01
Masonic Temple Building
324-328 Third Street
The Masonic Temple Building is a two-story brick building located on the main commercial thoroughfare in downtown Farmington. The building, built in 1917, is eligible for Heritage Landmark designation because its facade contributes significantly to the historic character of the downtown commercial district. It is a notable local example of the Neoclassical Revival mode in commercial architecture and the property’s historic use by fraternal
organizations and small business enterprises also reflects an important broad pattern in downtown history.
The designer of the Masonic Temple ably translated the Neoclassical cornice, pilasters and entablature the commercial building. One of five downtown buildings that have been evaluated as possessing pivotal significance for preserving the area’s distinctive historical character, the Masonic Temple shows how the availability of brick shaped the building environment of Farmington’s central business district. In general, nineteenth and early twentieth century builders relied upon brick facings to symbolize prosperity and security. The Masonic Temple also uses the distinctive buff-colored Kasota stone to accent its Neoclassical design elements, which together form a potent symbol of the lodge’s standing in the community.
Historically, the common rooms in downtown commercial buildings frequently functioned as the meeting rooms for certain fraternal organizations, which flourished in Farmington during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. For many years the Masons met in rented rooms, using the Griebe Block from 1881 until the construction of the present temple in 1917.
Designation on 09/04/01
Farmington State Bank Building
320 Third Street
The Farmington State Bank Building is a one-story brick commercial building located on the main commercial thoroughfare in downtown Farmington. The Farmington State Bank building is eligible for Heritage Landmark designation because it embodies the distinctive characteristics of the Neoclassical Revival style and is a notable local example of the early twentieth-century Classical Revival mode in commercial architecture.
It is also historically significant for its association with the broad pattern of commercial development and banking in downtown Farmington. This historic building housed the Farmington State Bank from 1910 until 1926. Construction of the new bank building coincided with a returning wave of national prosperity following the brief but severe “banker’s panic” of 1907. A succession of good harvests during the early 1900’s stimulated Farmington’s business community, and the rising confidence in the economy helped to promote increased consumption of consumer goods and the growth of the town’s commercial banks. Nationally and locally, the period from 1910 to 1920 witnessed an extraordinary building boom (probably the greatest in U.S. history) and the 1920’s saw the spectacular development of the automobile. At the same time, there was steady shift of population from rural areas to urban communities: Farmington’s population jumped from 733 in 1900 to 1,449 by 1920. The number of home mortgages and personal savings accounts increased nearly four-fold between the beginning of World War I and the Great Depression. This was also the start of the modern era in government regulation of banks, with the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 and the Intermediate Credits Act of 1923 establishing the Federal Reserve system.
In January 1926, at the height of the “Roaring Twenties” boom, the Farmington State Bank closed its doors. The bank property was subsequently acquired by the First National Bank of Farmington (founded in 1894), which had been formerly located in the Exchange Bank Building on the corner of Third and Oak. The First National Bank successfully weathered the economic collapse of the Great Depression (1929 to 1935) - it was one of the first banks in the state to reopen without restriction following the Bank Holiday of March, 1933 - and the venerable institution rode the wave of postwar prosperity. The bank’s expansion, coupled with the business community’s changing perceptions of downtown Farmington’s commercial prospects, however, caused the bank to move out of the building in 1966.
Designation on 09/04/01
Hamilton Clay House
621 Oak Street
The Hamilton Clay House is a wide-bodied, two-story frame house occupying a large corner lot in the heart of the Oak Street historic preservation planning area.
It is eligible for Heritage Landmark designation because it is a notable local example of Late Victorian period cottage architecture. Built in 1905, it is also historically significant for its association with the broad pattern of residential development in one of Farmington’s oldest residential neighborhoods.
It was the residence of newspaperman Ham Clay, Sr. from circa 1906 until his death in 1951. Clay was a native of Iowa who moved to Minnesota in 1903 and founded newspapers in Lakeville and Farmington.
The older residential neighborhoods in Farmington, in particular the Oak Street historic preservation planning area, have very distinctive streetscapes. Oak Street itself has a large and intact collection of houses built between the 1870’s and the 1930’s. The original 1866 town plat acknowledged that Oak Street would be residential in character. The streets were wide and the blocks were subdivided into fairly small rectangular lots. This meant that fairly substantial houses would have to be built on multiple lots. Over time, a diverse mix of housing types were built, with big houses placed next to smaller dwellings. Front yards were spacious and each house was set back from the street about the same distance as its neighbors, with its main entry opening onto the street.
Although it is essentially a vernacular construction, the Hamilton Clay House does exhibit several traits commonly associated with the Queen Anne Style. The Queen Anne architectural fashion statement has become nearly synonymous with “Victorian” and was in vogue between circa 1885 and 1910. The American Queen Anne was the picturesque style in the late nineteenth century American city. The form of these buildings was highly irregular, and special emphasis was given to the picturesque silhouette produced by gables and dormers, high chimneys, towers, turrets, and pinnacles. Round or hexagonal corner towers with conical pointed roofs and extensive porches which often wrapped themselves around the house were characteristics of the style. In plan, the best of these houses were of the living-hall type with wide openings from the hall into the other family living spaces. The house was renovated in the 1980’s and stands today as one of Farmington’s architectural showplaces.
Designated on 09/04/01.
Middle Creek Historic Cemetery
The historic cemetery is situated on the summit of a low, wooded hill near the intersection of Akin Road and Eaves Way, immediately north of the Middle Creek Estates Subdivision. The burial encompasses a rectangular
shaped parcel measuring approximately 264x165 ft. and oriented east-west. Historically, the site was unplatted but removed from routine farming activities. It was in use until the early twentieth century, when it was abandoned and fell into neglect.
The cemetery was largely forgotten until 2001 when a developer proposed to build a residential subdivision called Middle Creek Estates on a parcel west of Akin Road. The Heritage Preservation Commission reviewed the plat application and recommended that the developer survey the cemetery, stake the boundaries, and fence the site as a condition of plat approval.
Near the center of the historic site there is a small open area with a cluster of stone grave markers and scattered fragments of broken gravestones. The largest of these is a marble tablet inscribed in low fragments of broken gravestones. The largest of these is a marble tablet inscribed with the names of Charles Seward, S. Anderson, and Caroline Seward. The other stones and stone fragments lack readable inscriptions. There is evidence of an old trail or lane leading to the cemetery from Akin Road, but at present public access to the site is over a pedestrian trail from the City’s Pine Knoll lift station.
Information about the persons interred at the cemetery is sketchy. According to the 1881 narrative history of Dakota County, the first burial, that of Ada Bacon, occurred in 1859, and in June 1868, the plot of land was donated by Samuel Osborne to the Trustees of Farmington Presbyterian Church for use as a cemetery. Charles Seward’s obituary in the March 8, 1901 issue of the Dakota County Tribune, notes that he was buried in the “old cemetery in Judson’s Grove.” The cemetery is located on the map of Farmington published in 1896 but it does not appear on any modern topographical or street map. Local genealogists have documented at least twenty-four burials, including several members of the Seward and Witherell families, and suggest that the cemetery was no longer used after 1906. A grave robber is purported to have disturbed at least one grave in 1980.
Designated on 02/18/03
Exchange Bank Building
344 Third Street
The Exchange Bank Building is a product of the Late Victorian period design vocabulary and shows the influence of the Romanesque and Italianate styles. It was designed by master builder Augustus F. Gauger (1852-1929) of St. Paul and was built as a business block, intended to be the most prominent commercial building in downtown Farmington. It was built in 1880, after the Great Fire of 1879 destroyed much of the downtown.
This new masonry building housed the Bank of Farmington, a post office and a large hall on the second floor. The Exchange Bank acquired the property from the failed Bank of Farmington in 1896.
The Exchange Bank was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 31, 1979 because of its architectural qualities, reflecting the standards and tastes of the Late Victorian period in small-town Minnesota. It was acquired by the city and rehabilitated in 1996. It is historically significant not only as a notable specimen of high-style commercial architecture, but as an enduring, tangible link to the city’s business heritage. The building is now privately owned and in commercial use.
Designated on 10/06/03
* Property listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Church of the Advent
412 Oak Street
Built about 1871, and consecrated in 1873, the Episcopal Church of the Advent is a product of the dissemination of the Gothic Revival aesthetic in rural Minnesota and represents one of Farmington’s best preserved specimens of nineteenth century architecture. The design appears to have been adapted from a plan published by Richard Upjohn in 1852, which Bishop Henry Whipple used as the prototype for small Protestant Episcopal churches built in Minnesota during his tenure (1859-1901). The interior design of the original sanctuary also exhibits the distinctive features associated with this style, as well as fixtures unique to this property.
The building has had two major additions; in 1905 the vestry was enlarged by the addition of a frame guild hall, and in 1975 a large addition was constructed at the rear of the property.
The additions are compatible with the original church building and the 1905 construction has acquired historical significance in its own right.
The church is an established and familiar community landmark in the Oak Street neighborhood, where it complements and enhances the historic character of adjacent older homes. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 31, 1979.
Designated on 10/06/03
* Property listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Daniel F. Akin House
19185 Akin Road
The historic Daniel F. Akin House is a two-story
stone farmhouse with a gently sloped hip roof, a wide front porch and a roof-top cupola, built ca. 1860.
The house exhibits many characteristics historically associated with the Italian Villa (also called Italianate) style. Moreover, it shows the influence of 19th century pattern book designs, particularly the concepts espoused by Andrew Jackson Downing’s Architecture
of Country Homes (1850).
The house was built from locally produced, handcrafter materials, and the quality of stonework and carpentry is indicative of the work of one or more skilled artisans.
Daniel Akin was a native of New York and a graduate of Yale University who immigrated to Minnesota in
1856 and was employed as a land surveyor. But he soon turned to agriculture for his livelihood. Akin was a progressive farmer of his time and one of the first apple growers in Dakota County. He served as president of the county agricultural society during the 1870s. His work in agricultural science extended into the fields of meteorology and climatology, where he served as a weather observer and provided data to the US
The historic property now occupies about 3 acres and is surrounded on all sides by suburban residential development. The Akin House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Designated on 05/03/04
* Property listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
T.C. Davis House
520 Oak Street
The historic T. C. Davis House is a two story, frame suburban cottage with Queen Anne Style detailing. It has an irregular plan, a pyramidal hip roof, dormers, bay windows, and a square tower or cupola. The exterior walls are finished with horizontal imitation wood grain vinyl siding (over the original clapboards) that makes the walls look solid and of one piece; a thin decorative band of dentils (small, square blocks of wood) below the cornice molding. The roof profile and shape is one of the property’s principal design elements; it is so forceful that it separates itself from the main body of the house, which obliged the builder to find ways to make sure that the roof did not overpower the façade.
This was accomplished by breaking the roof into different shapes and pitches, by using siding, cornice and trim boards to emphasize horizontal lines, and by varying the pattern of fenestration. The front porch and side bay windows are not large design elements, but they reinforces the picturesque character of the façade and help balance the vertical thrust of the pyramidal roof and tower.
The house shows the influence of the Queen Anne (and to a lesser extent, Eastlake) Style in its multiple roof forms, asymmetrical massing, interconnected interior and exterior spaces, tall windows with large panes of glass, and the distinctive three story tower with its mansard roof. Exterior ornamentation is strongly geometric, more Eastlake than Queen Anne. The tower, for example, is square rather than round or hexagonal and is capped by a concave (bell-cast) mansard rather than a conical “witch’s hat” roof commonly seen on Queen Anne cottages. The color scheme is also considerably more subdued than the typical “painted lady”: the house is painted white with dark green trim and mauve accents.
The T. C. Davis House is the largest private home in the Oak Street Historic Preservation Planning Area, a neighborhood dominated by detached single-family homes and tree-lined streets. The building site is level and the property occupies a large (one-half acre) corner lot. A small frame garage with Victorian styling is set on the alley to the south of the house; built in 1984, it compliments the Victorian period character of the property.
Designated on 12/04/06
500 Spruce Street
The house at 500 Spruce Street is a two-story; frame, Gable Front and Wing Cottage type dwelling with a compound plan, intersecting gable roofs, and an open front porch. This is a large plain house, built in 1915, and has a simple form, balanced fenestration, clean lines; the façade is nearly devoid of ornamentation. The horizontal siding (originally clapboard, now simulated clapboard in vinyl) extends into the gables and makes the walls look solid and of one piece. The house assumes its characteristic shape and much of its architectural character from the right-angle intersection of the two large roofs.
The open gables are broader than usual and rely on geometry to express design and give the roof a strong outline; they also make the body of the house appear more volumetric, in comparison with other houses in the area. The open porch or veranda wraps around the front and part of the side of the upright wing; it has square posts and turned wooden balusters and is a major design element in its own right, designed to be useful as well as pleasing to the eye. The upper floor windows also reinforce the relationship between the gable-end walls and the body of the house. There is a one story addition on the back.
Designated on 12/04/06
509 Oak Street
The Thelen House is a two story, frame, Folk Victorian Cottage type dwelling, built in 1910. It has an irregular round plan, hip and gable roofs, and a front porch. The exterior walls are finished with wide horizontal aluminum siding and the roof is covered with composition asphalt shingles. The basement walls are rusticated concrete block. The open, spacious front porch spans the full width of the façade and has square posts; the porch siding and trim matches the body of the house. The gabled front wing features a two-story cut-away bay with angled side walls. There is a two story addition on the back of the house, covered by a gable roof and a back porch. In terms of stylized decoration, the house exhibits mildly Queen Anne Style influenced detailing.
The primary historic character-defining features of the house are its boxy, cubic proportions, the gabled and pyramidal hip roofs, and the spacious front porch. The floor plan provides for a front parlor or sitting room with a bay window, dining room, and kitchen on the main floor, with good-sized chambers on the upper floor. The front porch helps to lighten the visual effect of what would otherwise be a boxy, solid looking façade.
Designated on 01/16/07
409 Spruce Street
The Cadwell House is a two story, frame, American Foursquare Cottage type dwelling, built around 1920. It has a modified rectangular plan, a hip roof, dormers, and a front porch. The exterior walls are finished with narrow-reveal clapboard siding and the roof is covered with composition asphalt shingles. The raised basement walls are concrete block, as are the front and back porch footings. The enclosed front porch spans the full width of the façade and has siding and trim that matches the body of the house. A one-and-one-half story, hip roofed bay on the west side of the house contains the basement entry door and stairway. Gabled attic dormers are centrally placed on the front and side elevations; the front-facing dormer has a Palladian window, while the others have casement “bungalow” windows.
Fenestration is symmetrical, with double-hung windows arranged singly and in pairs; some of the original windows have been replaced with aluminum combination sash. There is a one story addition on the back of the house, covered by a low-pitch hip roof. The house has a conventional floor plan characterized by roomy interior spaces and finely crafted woodwork. In terms of stylized decoration, the overall impression is somewhere between Colonial Revival and Craftsman.
The primary historic character-defining features of the house are its boxy, cubic proportions, the flat-topped pyramidal hip roof, and the spacious front porch. The massed plan provides for a spacious living room, dining room, and kitchen on the main floor, with four good-sized chambers on the upper floor. Wide bands of trim (between the roof from the body of the house and between the first and second floors) visually reinforces its strong geometric form. The dormers help to lighten the mass of the house; along with the overhanging eaves, narrow fascia molding and exposed rafters, their visual effect is to reduce the vertical pull of the pyramidal hip roof. The eaves of the dormers echo the detailing on the main roof. The front porch (originally open, now enclosed) helps to offset the cubic proportions of the house; the high proportion of window glazing to siding also lightens the visual effect of what would otherwise be a boxy, solid looking facade. The porch windows and trim boards also compliment the picturesque character of the Palladian front dormer window and the brick sidewall fireplace chimney.
Designated on 01/16/07
421 Oak Street
The Raynor House attained historical significance qualifying it for Heritage Landmark designation when it was built in 1880. It is an example of the Stick Cottage heritage resource type and the noticeable detail of the house is the non-structural “stick work” of thin boards superimposed on the exterior walls to simulate vertical and horizontal framing members. The dormer also plays a strong role in the overall design of the house.
It has a steeply pitched gable and is decorated with carved wooden verge boards and stick work. The dormer is aligned with the paired windows on the first and second stories (and the center porch posts).
The broad front porch spans the width of the façade and its hipped roof is supported by four square wooden posts. Fenestration is symmetrical, and the first story windows are taller and narrower than those on the upper floor. The flat top of the hip roof visually reduces the vertical thrust of the façade. The protruding eaves have exposed rafters and are supported by carved wooden brackets. A wide band of trim with parallel and diagonal strips of stick work provides a horizontal division between the first and second stories; the same stick work is repeated in panels above the windows on both floors and on the bay window. The bracketed bay window on the east elevation is not a major design element, but it adds pattern to what would otherwise be a flat wall and reinforces the picturesque character of the house on its secondary elevation. In keeping with the conventional 1880’s color scheme, the body of the house is painted a lighter color than the trim.
The house is located in the Oak Street Historic Preservation Planning Area, a neighborhood dominated by detached single-family homes and tree-lined streets. The building site is level and the property occupies a standard-sized (.19 acre) lot. The front yard is enclosed with a white picket fence and a large shade tree helps frame views of the property from Oak Street. A large contemporary frame, garage is set on the back of the lot and is accessed from Fourth Street.
Designation on 05/21/07
320 Walnut Street
The Flynn House is a one-and-one-half story, balloon-framed, Gable Front and Wing type cottage with a compound plan, intersecting gable roofs, and several small additions. It is sited on a wooded corner lot near the southern edge of the historic Oak Street neighborhood. A small frame garage (built in 1950), echoing the picturesque character of the house, is sited on the alley to the south of the house.
The clapboard siding makes the walls look solid and of one piece. The corner boards, rake moldings, and fascia give the open gable walls a distinctive “temple” front, while vertical trim boards mark the divisions between the various bays. The cornice is a simple flat piece of molding without any fancy decoration. The main floor is only about a foot above grade (a common mid-nineteenth century cottage trait). The enclosed front porch and open back porch are pleasant features and provide convenient access to the front parlor and kitchen, respectively. The front porch has a gently sloped roof supported by decorative brackets and the wall cladding is the same as the body of the house. The small open rail back porch features square posts, vertical balusters, and a gable roof. Window placement is regular, with double-hung sash.
The house is somewhat rambling in its layout because of several room-sized appendages on the rear elevation. The Walnut Street facade exhibits some mildly Victorian design features, including the bracketed front porch and bay window, calculated to produce a charming, picturesque effect. The Victorian paint color scheme used by Mr. Flynn also enhances what Andrew Jackson Downing would have called the “truthfulness” of the original cottage design.
Designation on 05/21/07
621 Third Street
The property attained historical significance when it was built in 1910.
The historic preservation value of this house is the product of its association with the broad pattern of residential development in one of Farmington’s oldest neighborhoods; M. Moes’ addition to the original plat of Farmington was platted in 1897, when Farmington was growing very rapidly (the village population more than doubled between 1890 and 1920).
The house is a notable, well-preserved example of the American Foursquare house type, an important vernacular cottage form that was popular nation-wide and locally from the 1890s through the 1920s. It possesses the distinctive design characteristics of the vernacular foursquare cottage prototype (sometimes referred to as the “Cubic” or “Prairie” house form) described by architectural historians: two story height, symmetrical massing, hip roof with overhanging eaves, wood lap wall cladding with corner boards, double-hung windows, and the front porch extending across the entire façade.
708 Third Street
The house attained historical significance when it was built in 1918 during a period of more or less continuous economic prosperity that lasted from about 1895 until 1930.
The house is an example of the American Foursquare house type possessing distinctive design characteristics of the vernacular foursquare cottage prototype. The two-story cubic cottage with a pyramidal hip or cross-gabled roof with a deep overhang and unenclosed eaves which were popular in Farmington, where several dozen were built in the village and on farmsteads during the first two decades of the twentieth century. While some local examples are embellished with eye-catching decorative detailing borrowed from the Colonial, Tudor, or Craftsman styles, most were spacious but comparatively plain houses.