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Historic preservation


In recent years, historic preservation in Minnesota has established a significant record. To be sure, numerous efforts extending over the past century have saved many individual historic properties. For example, the John H. Stevens house (1850) was moved from downtown Minneapolis to Minnehaha Park for preservation in the 1890s; the Henry Sibley house (1836) in Mendota and the Seppman Mill (1863) in Blue Earth County were preserved in the early 20th century. But only in the last three decades have preservationists looked broadly at the full range of types of historic properties and worked to preserve them not only as museum sites but for a variety of purposes.

During the 1960s, the Field Archeology Act and the Historic Sites Act created a state policy of recognizing and protecting archeological sites and historic properties throughout Minnesota. At the federal level, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 established the National Register of Historic Places and a State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in each state to implement the many aspects of the national program. (In Minnesota, the SHPO is a department of the Minnesota Historical Society.) Today, over 4,000 Minnesota properties representing all 87 counties are included in the National Register. Considerable activity is being undertaken by local heritage preservation commissions, county and local historical societies, and other statewide and local groups with preservation missions.

Over time, the preservationist's attention has broadened from a few significant houses to a wide spectrum of properties - industrial structures, ships, farmsteads, landscapes, skyscrapers - with locally significant properties recognized as crucial to our national heritage. Historic preservation is, of course, an ongoing activity, continually facing challenges ranging from changing notions of what's important to the natural forces of rust and rot. As the state enters the 1990s several preservation issues merit particular attention.

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