Sumner Field, 1101 Olson Memorial Highway, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Sumner Field

Address: 1101 Olson Memorial Highway
Location of Site: Bounded by 12th Ave. N., Third Ave. N., Lyndale Ave. N. Humboldt Ave. N. and Girard Terrace/Emerson Ave. N.
Neighborhood/s: North, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1938
Year Ended: present
Historic Function: Housing development
Current Function: Housing development

North Minneapolis Hennepin County

Sumner Field, 1101 Olson Memorial Highway, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.987228° N, 93.291838° WLatitude: 44°59′14.021″N
Longitude: 93°17′30.617″W


Site Origins

In the beginning Sumner Field was a swampy creek bed. In the early 1900's the creek was routed underground while housing was built above it using fill leading to unstable soils. These early houses were razed in the 1930's for a new multi-family development. This led to the first public housing project in the state of Minnesota constructed in 1935. Sumner Field was considered the most undesirable housing area in Minneapolis. THe neighborhood consisted mostly of low-income African American and Jewish families. Around 400 families in the neighborhood were to be moved out of the area. This project was projected to cost four to five million dollars but was cut to three and a half million. In 1935 demolition began and ground-breaking proceeded. In the fall of 1936 activity came to a halt due to bids exceeding the budget. The spring of 1937 they found a builder with an acceptable bid for the complex Butler Construction Company. Work began again in July of 1937.

In December of 1938, the Sumner Field housing project officially opened. The project consisted of 30 acres and 49 buildings total. 48 for residential use and one for a central steam-heating plant. All of the buildings were of the same style with flat roofs and red brick construction. Each of the three story buildings had an amusement room, occupational room (sewing classes for girls and manual training classes for boys). The project had a men's club room and a ladies' social room with facilities for serving food. The complex contained 464 dwelling (approximately 2000 persons) units ranging from two-room flats to six-room two-story rowhouses with three bedrooms. In the complex there were 200 three room (one bedroom) units, 183 four room (two bedroom) units and 66 five rooms (three bedroom) units.

There was a formal application process that a family had to go through to be considered suitable to live there. There were 925 formal applications submitted while 2,000 families made inquiries. But it was the low income group that they wanted it was for them that the project was developed. Four requirements must've been met before a family could be admitted to the project: the head of the family must be a citizen of the United States, the family must be living in a substandard situation and have lived that way for six months, they must have low family income, and must have been residents of the city and state for a year. The rent of each unit was different ranging from a two room rent from $19.30 to $19.80 per month for (two person families only). The family income could not be more than $99 per month or less than $60 per month. The five room rented from $30.85 to $31.85 per month (for 5, 6, or 7 person families). Income could not be more than $159.00 per month or less than $100 per month. Of the 400 families that were originally living there before the demolition about 104 of them returned to Sumner Field. In 1946, 134 families were ordered to move out of Sumner by April of 1947 because they exceeded the maximum income levels. Many families were allowed to stay though due to the housing shortage at this time. But after April 1st they had to move or pay comparable rents outside the project. In 1946 the rental rates were $36 a month for three rooms, $40 for four rooms and $44 for five rooms.

Photo Gallery

Heritage Park

The current site is being used as another housing project, Heritage Park. The site is a 145 acre vacant site that formerly contained Sumner Field. The current project will contain a 900 housing-unit development: 440 rental, 360 for sale and 100 public housing units for the elderly. Heritage Park will include several housing types including single family homes, duplexes, garden apartments, townhouses, and carriage houses. The poing to this project is to produce a mixed-income, mixed density, culturally diverse and amenity rich neighborhood. Construction on this project began in 2000 and is expected to be completed in the winter of 2009. The project will be constructed in four phases. Phase one includes 232 rental units and 38 for-sale units. Phase two and three are still under construction and phase four will be the construction of the senior housing sector. The total estimated cost of Heritage Park is $225 million. $75 million for public infrastructure costs and $150 million for the entire housing development. Heritage Park has several public and private funding partners including the federal Housing and Urban Development County, the Metropolitan Council, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority and the City of Minneapolis.

Importance to the North Side Community

The presence of small neighborhood areas created community ties within the two communities. The development of housing projects greatly altered the demographic make-up of the area and caused the movement of people in the North Side neighborhood. This in turn caused further isolation and the creation of closer ties within the Jewish community and the African American community respectively.

Memories and stories


65}px This place is part of
Public History 3001 Class Project
64px}px This place is part of the
Minneapolis Jewish North Side Tour

Related Links


Hess, Jeffrey A. 1993. Sumner Field Homes: Public Housing in Minnesota before World War II.

1938. The Realtor, Weekly Bulletin of the Minnesota Real Estate Board. July 14, 22 (27):

2003. Heritage Park: Near Northside Redevelopment.

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