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A Bicentennial Gift to the City

from The Woman's Club

The Ard Godfrey House

In 1976, as a gift to the city of Minneapolis in honor of its Bicentennial, The Woman's Club of Minneapolis undertook the restoration of the Ard Godfrey House.


Some 10,000 volunteer hours later, the house opened to an attending audience of 800 on July 4th, 1979.


Today, the Ard Godfrey House is the oldest remaining frame house in the city. The house has been impeccably restored by The Woman's Club and is filled with furnishings and household artifacts authentic to the 1850s--some original to the Godfrey family, including the walnut baby cradle and the Chickering rosewood piano that graces the parlor.


Volunteers and college interns dressed in 1850s period costumes give tours of the one and a half story house.


Ard Godfrey was a skilled millwright from the East Coast who was recruited by early settler and entrepreneur Franklin Steele in 1848 to build a dam and lumber mill at the falls of St. Anthony (now part of the city of Minneapolis) in what was then called the Wisconsin Territory.


Not long after lumbermen drove the first logs down the river to the new mill, Ard traveled back to Maine to fetch his wife and young children. The trip back to St. Anthony was delayed because shortly after Ard's arrival in Maine, they suffered the death of one of their children and Harriet Godfrey became pregnant.  


The Godfreys set out from Maine together.  When they reached Beloit, Wisconsin, Harriet and the children stopped to spend the winter with relatives.  Ard returned to St. Anthony  on horseback.  He arrived late in the fall of 1848 and began building a one and a half story wood-frame house for his family. Harriet and their children arrived in St. Anthony by riverboat in April of 1849. Ard was 35; Harriet was 32 and eight months pregnant. A month later Harriet gave birth to a baby girl they called Hattie.


The young family settled into their new house where they would live until 1853, when their growing family and new economic opportunities took them to Minnehaha Falls. Ard owned land there and built another house, a dam, a sawmill, and a gristmill.

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The Ard Godfrey House is located in Chute Square in at 28 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414










Metered street parking is available.  Off-street parking is also available in the Riverplace Municipal Ramp off 2nd St NE and East Hennepin Ave and in the St. Anthony Falls Public Ramp off 2nd Ave SE and Central Ave. 

The Ard Godfrey House is open weekends from 1:00 - 4:00 pm in June, July and August for free guided tours.

At the Ard Godfrey House we recognize the diverse needs of our audience and try to offer accessible programming to enable all visitors to explore this historic 1849 house. However, accessibility for guests with limited mobility can be challenging due to historic and natural features.  We are partially wheelchair- accessible on the main floor only. 

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