Wedge History: Warren Barnes Dunnell
WARREN BARNES DUNNELL
(1851 to 1931)
Minnesota State Architect
by Kathy Kullberg
Although Lowry Hill East resident, and arguably its most famous resident architect, Warren B. Dunnell had family roots in Owatonna, he was most at home in Minneapolis. Having lived abroad after college and then working out East for the federal government, he returned home in 1880 and began his life’s work in Minnesota. He contributed many public buildings to our list of outstanding architecture.
While a biography from Minneapolis Architecture and Architects claims that “the Dunnell practice, which was extensive, appears to have been almost entirely devoted to church, public buildings, and institutions,” there are two known extant Dunnell residences in Lowry Hill East: two being his own residences and one built for William Webster at 2600 Colfax.
He built his first private residence in 1890 at the corner of Aldrich Avenue South and West 24th Street. Today this residence at 2406 Aldrich Avenue South has been remodeled into its current configuration as a three-unit building. If one looks closely, many of the significant details such as the arched window bay of the structure have been moved around and reused in other areas.
Dunnell at that time also owned the two adjacent lots to the north on the corner of Aldrich and West 24th which included a tennis court. According to the family history, Dunnell suffered financial loses about 1905 and built an 8-unit apartment building on the site of the tennis court. After selling the home at 2406, the family moved into two of the new apartments next door at 2400 Aldrich. The classic revival designed apartment building features a Roman style entrance with double columns.
The address is also significant to local history, as it was the residence of newlyweds, Delos and Maud Hart Lovelace in the 1920s. One of Maud’s last novels, Betsy’s Wedding, reimagines the residence into her Bow Street apartment for the main characters, Betsy and Joe Willard.
In the same neighborhood, another Dunnell designed residence is located just a few blocks away at 2600 Colfax, built in 1892 for William H. Webster, the general superintendent at the Minneapolis Journal newspaper. This residence was designed in a late Victorian Queen Anne style with turreted window bays on the north facade and multi columns on the front porch. Though originally a single-family home it has been subdivided several times into the present triplex configuration.
Warren Barnes Dunnell was born in Maine in 1851 but as a youngster, his parents Mark and Sarah Dunnell moved to Winona, Minnesota in 1863. His father served several times in the Minnesota state legislature between 1867 and 1891. After attending high school, Warren first started at the University of Minnesota and later transferred to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. At the time, interest in architecture was very high but there were no American schools offering a curriculum. Most budding architects majored in engineering and became apprentice draftsmen. Subsequently, Dunnell went to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. After coming back to the U.S., he worked for the government working on various public buildings out East. He returned to St. Paul about 1880.
The following year he formed his own practice, focusing on public structures, including churches, hospitals and schools. His most notable contribution to Minnesota architecture is the design and construction of the administration building of the Fergus Falls State Hospital in Fergus Falls, 1895.
According to a Minnesota biography Dunnell was married to Ida Ogden in 1892 and had three children, Richard, Dorothy, and Alice. He died in 1931 and is buried in the Dunnell plot in Owatonna at Forest Hill Cemetery. Though he is mostly known for his outstanding public buildings throughout the U.S. and Minnesota, his legacy will be forever connected to the Fergus Falls historic state buildings.
Kathy Kullberg is a Historian and Wedge resident.
LHENA is Hiring
Come work for LHENA as our new Communications and Fundraising Specialist!
Title: Communications and Fundraising Specialist
Classification: Part-time, non-exempt, 20 hours/week
Benefits: cell phone stipend, PTO
Schedule: Flexible hours. Some nights and weekends required.
Location: Co-working office in the Lowry Hill East neighborhood in Minneapolis. This position will be remote, with occasional in-person requirements at neighborhood meetings and events.
The Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association (LHENA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has represented the values and interests of the residents, property owners, and business owners of the Lowry Hill East neighborhood for over 50 years. The LHENA mission is to provide a structure for neighborhood leadership and participation, facilitate the equitable sharing of resources, and advance a vision for the neighborhood.
Lowry Hill East is located in the Uptown area of Minneapolis and is affectionately known as “The Wedge” due to its geographically-defined triangular shape. It is bordered by Lyndale Avenue to the east, Hennepin Avenue to the west, and Lake Street to the south.
The Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association, or LHENA (pronounced ‘Lee-Nah’), is one of the 70 neighborhood organizations recognized in the City of Minneapolis. Its history can be traced back to the 1970s, prior to its official recognition by the City. At that time, neighbors came together to form an organization to build community, host recycling events, and host ice cream socials. As LHENA was the hub of neighborhood activity, it even started one of the city’s first neighborhood newspapers. The Wedge was a multi-page newspaper fielding advertisements from local businesses and stories from volunteer writers. The success of this paper and the founding of a neighborhood association inspired the creation of many others in the city. Though the last paper was published in 2012, LHENA continues to evolve in the age of social media and is still the center of neighborhood news and activities.
Today, all residents, property owners, and business owners in Lowry Hill East are considered LHENA members and can take part in official association acts such as board member elections and committee votes. Led by a volunteer board of 11 members, the association helps communicate goings-on around the neighborhood and city, provides resources to members, facilitates civic forums, and assists members in championing projects. A majority of the work occurs in dedicated committees where members brainstorm, design, and execute initiatives.
The most important aspects of the Communications and Fundraising Specialist position are skilled communication, relationship-building, and fundraising. The Communications and Fundraising Specialist will do this by:
The Communications and Fundraising Specialist will perform close work with the Executive Director and neighbor-leadership. The position reports directly to the Executive Director.
Roles & Responsibilities
Communications - 40%
Outreach and Organizational Support - 20%
To Apply: Submit a cover letter, resume, and three professional references to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “Communications and Fundraising Specialist” in the subject line. For more information about our organization visit www.thewedge.org. This is a position that will continue until December 31, 2022; the position may be extended beyond based on funding availability. Deadline to apply is March 13, 2022.
LHENA is an equal opportunity employer. We seek talent from a diverse candidate pool that both complements and reflects the community we serve.
Uptown Theater Update
From the office of Ward 10 council representative Aisha Chughtai:
This development site requires license approval and a Certificate of No Change. The application for the Certification of No Change is currently incomplete. Since the Uptown Theater is closed and no longer operating, the license and operating conditions are no longer valid. New applicants for this space will work through a security review process as a step into the license approval process. MPD and Licensing in partnership with other City departments will determine whether operating conditions will be required for the space based on how the new business intends to operate. Those entities will be sure to factor in livability and safety concerns. We’ll know more information on how the business intends to operate once they complete their applications for license approval and the Certificate of No Change. Our office is very aware of the impact this development will have on surrounding areas. We’ve received constituent inquiries on the Uptown Theater and will continue to note feedback and share that with relevant city staff. We’re particularly attuned to the public health and safety aspect of this development site.
As residents have asked us about community input, we have very little to no control over how the developer chooses to engage with community members, but all liquor license approvals will come before BIHZ Committee, which Councilmember Chughtai is on. Our office has asked city staff about the security review process and if there’s any point of community input within that process.
February Board Meeting
The LHENA Board of Directors will be meeting on Wednesday, February 16 to conduct its monthly business. These meetings are open to the public. A draft agenda is attached below.
LHENA Board meeting
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 868 5165 3533