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160 Years Minnesota

In 2018, Minnesota celebrates 160 years of statehood. We think we look pretty good for our age.

What was Minnesota like 160 years ago? In 1858, the population estimate was somewhat more than 150,000. That might not sound like a lot, but it’s a massive increase from the estimated population of 6,000 just 8 years earlier in 1850. (Of course, that’s nothing compared to what happened next. The population was 439,000 by 1870 and tripled again during the next two decades.)

In 1858, the “founding population” was made up largely of people of New England origins. In fact, Minnesota was dubbed the “New England of the West.” (Though it’s important to note that a subculture of the Sioux, the Dakota people, called the area home long before New Englanders showed up.)

160 years ago, Minnesota showed major promise. Its location at the headwaters of the Mississippi provide ample opportunity for trade. And yet, the railroad boom that would transform this area was still a few years off. Still, that didn’t stop a few intrepid investors from setting down (lavish!) roots in the area. An 1859 photograph of famed Summit hill shows six houses. One of them, at 312 Summit Avenue, still stands today.

Another early residence that still stands today is the Burbank Livingston Griggs mansion, located at 432 Summit Avenue. Construction began in 1862, in spite of an overall slump in construction during the Civil War. The Burbank Livingston Griggs mansion remains one of the finest examples of Italianate architecture the region. (While 312 Summit Avenue is a single family private residence, the Burbank Livingston Griggs mansion is currently divided into three units and is available for leasing inquiries, so you could theoretically experience nearly 160 years of Minnesota history in your own home!)

Interested in learning more about Minnesota history as we approach another milestone birthday? Schedule a walking tour of Summit Avenue, visit the Minnesota Historical Society, or chat up one of the many history buffs who relish spending time in some of the state’s most treasured, iconic historical spaces. (We happen to know a few.)

Commonwealth Companies

Property Management

At Commonwealth Companies, we're preserving the vibrancy and architectural beauty of Saint Paul while making it accessible for contemporary tastes. We discover and reinvigorate historic properties, but there's more to it than that.