Lowry Hill Walking Tour of Healy Homes

This Saturday, architectural history buffs can enjoy an informal walking tour and photo shoot in Lowry Hill. Organized by a couple of researchers who have been studying master builder T.P. Healy, who designed and built houses for Minneapolis's high society in the late 1800s, the tour will take a look at 22 Healy-built houses in the neighborhood, including at least 10 of Healy's own design.

Healy was originally from Nova Scotia and worked as a maritime shipper there, making a fortune until his two ships, Lena and Alice, were lost at sea. Facing financial ruin, Healy moved his family to the United States, eventually settling in Minneapolis in 1884. The city was growing rapidly at that time, and Healy recognized a housing shortage. He decided to become a builder and contractor, constructing over 100 ornate homes for high society in Lowry Hill, Whittier, and the 3100 block of Second and Third Avenue, which became recognized as the Healy Block Historic District in 1993.

Some of Healy's prominent clients included the Sears family of Sears and Roebuck and jeweler J.B. Hudson. Many of the early homes he built followed the Queen Anne Style, which became popular in the United States after English architectural designs were showcased at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. According to the Minnesota Historical Society, the Queen Anne Style is characterized by front facing or cross-gabled roof lines, trellised balconies, triptychs, window embellishments, and stained glass transoms.

After the World's Columbian Exhibition in 1893, architectural trends moved away from Queen Anne to a more neoclassical style. Healy homes toward the latter end of the century became squarer, with more open floor plans and massive millwork, according to an article by Trilby Busch.

Busch, who has written about Healy with co-author Anders Christensen, states that Healy built around 130 homes, and often had hundreds of people working for him. He was not a wealthy man himself, but did live amongst the upper middle class in homes that he built for himself.

This will be the third walking tour organized by Busch and Christensen. Previous tours visited the Healy Block Historic District and Healy homes in Whittier. The duo published articles on Healy for Twin Cities Magazine in 1981 and have more recently had several articles in The Wedge newspaper. They are currently working on a book project. The two will serve as guides for the tour, sharing some of the history of the homes as walkers check out the cool old buildings and take pictures. The researchers hope to catalog the exteriors of all of the Healy Houses while providing an opportunity for others to view and photograph the beautiful historic homes.

Those interested should meet at the corner of Dupont and Douglas on Saturday at 1 p.m. The tour will last roughly two hours.

Lowry Hill Walking Tour of Healy Homes
Trilby Busch

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