Samuel Wallace

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2700 Pillsbury Avenue

Post from volunteer Nick Steffel:

There’s a giant house a block or two away from mine that I’ve been wondering about. It’s massive — a huge two-and-a-half story house on a huge corner lot with a facade of old yellow brick. I wondered who would have built such a massive and ornate house. A railroad baron? A bootlegger? The answer turned out to be much more contemporary than I thought.

According to the building permit cards in Special Collections, it was built over the winter of 1888-1889 by Samuel Wallace at a price of around $7,500. The house appeared to be an investment on Wallace’s part. He was real estate partners with Robert Blaisdell Jr., whose father Robert Blaisdell Sr. was one of the city’s early pioneers and the namesake of Blaisdell Ave. just one block over. The house is listed for sale in ads in the Minneapolis Tribune beginning in 1892. With an asking price of $18,000, it describes the house as “modern in every way” with “splendid architectural design” and a large corner lot. 

Unfortunately for Wallace, a financial panic hit the country in 1893 caused in part by excessive speculation. Wallace’s 19th century version of “Flip That House” went awry and, according to the Minneapolis phone directories from the era, he wound up living in the house instead of selling it.

Things may not have gone very well for Wallace after that. In 1898 Wallace placed a classified ad seeking “[s]everal men with pluck, money, and brains to corral gold lands in Alabama.” An article in the Minneapolis Journal from 1904 said Wallace was convicted to 60 days in jail for stealing a bicycle.

As for the house, it changed hands several times in the decades after Wallace owned it. In the 1950s it was coverted from a single family home to a 5-plex and it remains a multiplex today.