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Spec homes of Lynnhurst

While there are many architect-designed homes throughout Lynnhurst, a majority were built as speculation (“spec”) homes by builders, who would build them and then offer them for sale to the public rather than do a custom home for a specific client.

Built from designs found in plan books, these homes combined popular styles of the time in economical packages for the middle and upper-middle class. Built in 1915, 4649 Aldrich Ave. S. is a good example of a Lynnhurst spec home, with its Prairie-style roofline and Arts & Crafts interior detail.

Features included central heating, indoor plumbing and electricity, all of which were still relatively new. Though autos were becoming more common, many spec houses were built without garages or driveways, as they added extra cost for what was then quite a luxury. Many homes featured multiple-windowed “sleeping porches,” which were usually on the second level and were used for sleeping in the hot summer months. Besides being cooler, they provided fresh air, thought to be essential for good health and preventing diseases such as tuberculosis, which was greatly feared at the time.

In the years from 1910 until the U.S. entered World War II, spurred on by the streetcar line along Bryant Ave. S. and the growing popularity of the automobile, spec homes were built in large numbers along the east shore of Lake Harriet. “Looking to the west from the Washburn Park hill,” noted the Minneapolis Journal on August 20, 1916, “one may count something like 200 houses in sight, all brand new, along Lyndale, Aldrich, Bryant, Colfax and Dupont Avenues. What was open country a few months ago is now like a new city within the city, full of new bright red and green-roofed homes.”

Today, the Prairie and Arts & Crafts styles are experiencing a revival in new homes and furnishings, and original homes like these are prized for their early 20th century craftsmanship, woodwork and other details that cannot be duplicated in new construction.

– Mike O’Brien, 1998

Lynnhurst area map

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