John Banfill operated a busy hotel, tavern, store and post office from this building when the trail passed by here. In 1851 he started the town of Manomin, named for the Ojibwe word for wild rice. It later became Fridley.
The Banfill House was built in the Greek Revival style, which, by the late 1840s, had fallen out of style in the East, but was still seen as fashionable on the frontier. The house exhibits typical Greek Revival characteristics: wide cornice moldings under the gables, stubby “returns” at the gable ends, vertical “corner boards” where the walls meet, and segmented windows on either side of and above the front door.
The Banfill House later served as a resort. More recently, Cassius and Roberta Locke used it as their summer residence for nearly 40 years. The house is now owned by Anoka County and operated as the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts. It sits on the edge of the Manomin County Park, which has frontage on the Mississippi River and Rice Creek.
In the summer of 1849, E. S. Seymour visited the Banfill house on a journey north.
“Mr. Banfill has a large framed barn, and stable-room for forty horses, yet, during many nights, he informed me, as many as twenty horses, or mules, were obliged to stand outdoors. His house was full of travelers every night; an opinion may be formed, from this, of the amount of business on this road.”
Seymour also described the surrounding countryside:
“Between Rice and Coon Creeks the country is considerably broken and hilly; there are many large ponds and marshes, filled with a luxuriant growth of grass, forming beautiful natural meadows, and rendering this an excellent section of the country for the selection of grazing farms.”
The trail generally follows East River Road in this area. South of the Fridley Northstar Rail Station, it follows the railroad corridor.