The Godfrey Family, Circa 1872
Back row (from left) Godfrey daughters Harriet (Hattie), Minnie, Mary and Martha Ann (Mattie)
Front row: Ard Godfrey, Sarah Catherine (Kittie) and Mrs. Godfrey (Harriet)
Missing: Helen and Abner
The Ard Godfrey House is the oldest remaining frame-style residence in Minneapolis and is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Ard Godfrey was a skilled millwright who came to Minneapolis in 1847 to supervise the building of the first commercial dam and lumber mill at the Falls of St. Anthony on the Mississippi River. Following the opening of the mill in 1848, Godfrey turned his attention to the construction of a suitable dwelling for his family. In 1849, Harriet Godfrey and her children arrived in St. Anthony to join her husband in the newly built house. The Godfrey family lived in the house from 1849 until 1853 when they moved to a larger home on land where the Old Soldiers Home now stands alongside Minnehaha Park. The house was occupied by several other families until 1905 when it was sold to the Hennepin County Territorial Pioneers Association. It was moved to its present location on Chute Square in 1909 and given to the City of Minneapolis. The building was used as a museum of historical artifacts until 1943 when it was closed and boarded up due to a shortage of funds.
In 1976, The Woman's Club of Minneapolis undertook the renovation of the Ard Godfrey House as a gift to the city of Minneapolis in honor of the Bicentennial. Funds for this massive project were raised by The Woman's Club, and a portion of the money raised was matched by grants from the federal government and the state of Minnesota. Donations of products and labor were solicited from various contractors, unions and local businesses. Original furnishings and household items belonging to the Godfrey family were located. Some of these items were donated by the Godfrey family and others were purchased. Additional items authentic to the period are also on exhibit in the house. Countless hours of strenuous labor were involved to remove and replace a century's worth of flooring and wall coverings. A new fire-proof roof was installed. All told, over 10,000 hours of labor were volunteered by more than five hundred people.
The house was finally opened to the public on July 4, 1979. In 1985, a reproduction of the original kitchen and pantry wing was rebuilt and furnished. The original kitchen and pantry were destroyed during one of the four times the house was moved. Today, the Ard Godfrey Committee of The Woman's Club oversees the maintenance of the interior of the house. They also volunteer as hostesses and guides.
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