Project Overview

“Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) was bequeathed the historic Wells Center in 1996. While always grateful for gifts, MCTC was not well-positioned to manage this historic asset. Preservation Design Works (PVN), led by Meghan Elliott, first designed an affordable maintenance plan. Then, far beyond her paid scope, Meghan enlisted Project for Pride in Living (PPL) in a State Legacy Grant application last spring. It was an ingenious strategy and a great way forward for this building. When nothing looks promising for a challenging historic property, I recommend turning to PVN.”
— Mike Christenson, Vice President at Minneapolis Community and Technical College

Location: 1403 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, MN

Client: Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC)

Constructed: 1887

Project Date: 2015

Project Scope: Preservation Project Strategy

The Wells Family Center on the Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) campus in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is an iconic Richardsonian Romanesque building. The building, also called the H. Alden Smith House, was designed for its namesake in 1887 by noted local architect William Channing Whitney. The Wells Family Center was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and is a designated Minneapolis landmark. MCTC received the Wells Family Center in 1996, but was not well-positioned to manage the building. In 2013 MCTC retained PVN to help them reactivate this locally and nationally designated building.

PVN’s first phase of work included updating previous condition assessments to reflect current conditions, compiling current operational costs, and developing cost estimates for immediate masonry and roof stabilization–which ultimately led to the development of an actionable plan for increasing the use of the building. 

The reactivation of the Wells Family Center highlights PVN’s cross-disciplinary services that efficiently and effectively increase the viability of a building with heritage value. When faced with an aging building, developing an actionable plan and utilizing available financial tools can increase the longevity of a historic asset. Because many preservation financial incentives are closely related to decisions about design and construction, we evaluate and integrate preservation-specific incentives with project design and planning. PVN provides comprehensive historic preservation planning and strategy to develop solutions to challenging historic sites.