Tuesday, June 21, 1966: Dentist buys house for $266

Posted on June 18th, 2007 – 11:14 AM
By Ben Welter

This story presents a bit of a mystery: A four-bedroom Tudor-style house is sold for $266 to make way for Interstate Hwy. 35W. The new owner tells the Star he plans to move it to a vacant lot he owns at 603 SE. 5th St.

Sounds plausible, except that the Horace Van Cleve house, a historic Greek Revival structure, stands at that address now, and has been there, presumably, since its construction in the late 1800s. Hmmm. Maybe the Star got the address wrong. Maybe the Van Cleve house was moved. Or maybe Minneapolis adjusted street numbers after the freeway went in.

I’ll do some detective work this week and see what I can find. Please drop me a line if you can shed any light.

MYSTERY SOLVED: Valentina Yarr, the dentist’s widow, says the city approved the move but neighbors blocked it. And so the lovely Tudor was leveled to make way for the freeway. Also, neighborhood historian Penny A. Petersen confirms that the Van Cleve house has stood at 603 Fifth Street SE. since it was built in 1858 by William Kimball. See the comments section for details and a fresh photo.


Dentist Buys House for $266

Minneapolis Star Staff Writer

Nicholas Yarr
Nicholas Yarr and his new house.

Nicholas Yarr just bought a two-story, English Tudor-style house. He got it for $266 from the Minnesota Highway Department.

A bargain? Maybe.

Yarr says he has problems.

He’s got to move the house if he doesn’t want a freeway through the living room of the stucco structure at 900 SE. 4th St.

Yarr, a Minneapolis dentist, thinks he found a solution to his problem. He plans to move the house to a vacant lot he owns at 603 SE. 5th St.

Yarr estimates it is going to cost more than 50 times as much to move the house and put it on a new foundation than it did to buy it.

‘Worth It’

“Every penny of the $15,000 I plan to spend will be worth it,” Yarr said, “if I can save this beautiful home. It’s kind of like having a bit of the English countryside in southeast Minneapolis.”

The highway department told Yarr he has to move the house by Aug. 12 when work is scheduled to begin on the right-of-way for Interstate Hwy. 35W.

Yarr applied for a special council permit to move the 13-room structure and says he will also ask the City Planning Commission for a setback variation at the new site.

The house, Yarr said, will be moved four blocks at a cost of about $3,000.

Only Offer

Yarr was the only person to make an offer for the Tudor-style home when the department opened the bids. “I could have had the home for a $10 bid,” he said, “but I bid high, if anyone can call $266 high, just to be on the safe side. It seems I must have been the only one with an empty lot four blocks away.”

The house, Yarr said, was built in 1935 by Minneapolis attorney John Shaughnessy, who lived in it until his death in 1957.

Shaughnessy’s son, also an attorney, lived there with his sister until the highway department ordered them to vacate in April.

A spokesman for the highway department said $35,200 was awarded to the Shaughnessys by the condemnation commissioner for the house and lot.

The house has a living room, dining room, paneled den, sun room, breakfast nook, kitchen, three bathrooms and four bedrooms.

Yarr plans to live in the house if the council approves his request to move it.

Tudor on SE. 4th St.
The Tudor house at 900 SE. 4th St. was leveled to make way for I-35W.

Van Cleve house?Here is 601-603 SE. 5th St. Is this the Van Cleve residence?

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