3116 Third Ave South: Bennett-McBride House

A house that sparked historic preservation in the Healy Block and beyond

Built: 1891
Cost estimated on building permit: $5,000

In 1887, lumberman Henry H. Bennett hired one of T. P. Healy’s contemporaries, the English-American master builder Henry Ingham, to build a house for him and his wife at 3112 3rd Ave. South (next door to 3116). But when Bennett wanted a barn, he hired Healy to build it. Then, in 1891, the Bennetts hired Healy to build 3116. However, they lived at 3116 for just two years.

The second owners, Hiram W. and Viola Foote, lived here from 1894 to 1901. Hiram grew up in Wisconsin in a house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad. He worked in the drug industry and was Minnesota’s Inspector of Oils. Foote hired Healy to build the barn behind 3116 in 1893. A carriage stone (to step on when alighting from a carriage) with Foote’s name on it remains on the property today.

John M. & Arminda McBride bought 3116 in 1905. John McBride was one of the first merchants in the Nicollet-Lake area, running a thriving grocery business. John lived in the house until his death in 1945. His daughter Esther McBride occupied the house until she sold it in 1967 to Ronald Domanski and Norm Lindberg.

The Bennett-McBride house has played a unique role in the late twentieth century rediscovery of Healy’s importance in Minneapolis architectural history. From the 1976 Designers Showcase brochure: “Messrs. Domanski and Lindberg who now own the Bennett-McBride house have a strong interest in renovation and historic preservation. Through their efforts the house has been listed on the Minneapolis Inventory of Historic and Pre-historic Places. They are now in the process of getting the house listed on the Federal Registry. In 1972 they received Distinguished Citizen Awards from the Committee on Urban Environment (CUE) for the restoration of their home.” Domanski and Lindberg also served on CUE (which is no longer extant) and in other programs to upgrade their neighborhood. When the Bennett-McBride House was put on the National Register of Historic Places, it was described as the work of “architect John Healey.” Theron Potter Healy was not discovered until 1978.

The Bennett-McBride House has avoided many of the changes that might have obscured its original architecture. Esther McBride’s excellent caretaking and her sale to young enthusiastic preservationists saved the house during a period when many other houses in the district were altered.

When Jamie and Jennifer Van Nort MacDonald were forced to sell the house because of her health issues in 2012, the house was purchased by Theron Healy’s great grandson, architect John Cunningham and his wife Sally Cunningham. They originally just planned to fix up the house and sell it, but in 2014 they moved in. They have undertaken an extensive restoration both inside and out. They also have restored the Healy barn, one of three left on the Healy Block. They received an award from the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission, the Minnesota Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and Preserve Minneapolis in 2015 for their restoration work.

The Bennett-McBride House is a classic Healy Queen Anne. The house is cross-gabled with a high front gable and the side gables subordinated to the main ridge. The Palladian attic window has a serpentine pediment and paneled woodwork underneath.

The second story features two of Healy’s signature design elements, which can be found on several houses is this historic district:
• Paired, arched Moorish stained glass windows over a single-pane window.
• A cozy porch under the cantilevered front gable with upper fretwork, turned columns, and a decorated balustrade.

The roof of the first floor porch has gable-ends facing north and south; fretwork above, a decorated balustrade, criss-cross screening in the skirt; a second pair of arched Moorish windows in stained glass over a single-pane window; and double oak doors with carved panels.

John Cunningham has claimed (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) that he bought the house for the barn. The two original horse stalls are still there with a lingering equine aroma. To restore the barn, structural contractor John Jepsen jacked up and straightened the structure and set it down on a new foundation. Then new siding was milled and installed. The barn, with its cupola, resembles one built in Healy’s birthplace, Round Hill, Nova Scotia, by Healy’s brother, Anderson Healy. John Cunningham uses the hay mow in the summer months as his poker room, with cigar smoke wafting out of the cupola. The portrait of his other great grandfather, Welcome Johnston (see 3139 2nd Ave. So. in this tour for the Healy-Johnston familial relationship), hangs in the third floor of the house on a wall overlooking a pool table.

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