Notable Black History & Culture Sites in Minneapolis

Historical landmarks, churches, and museums can teach us how Minneapolis became the city it is today and allow us to reflect on the origins of our Black community. Check out these historical sites that honor the stories and contributions to Black culture in Minneapolis.

Lee House

This historic home in the Field neighborhood of Minneapolis was purchased by an African-American couple, Arthur and Edith Lee in 1931. White neighbors protested and rioted against the Lee's living here, considering the area to be a "white-only neighborhood." The Lee's were determined to stay and enlisted the help of prominent organizations and individuals including Minneapolis lawyer Lena Olive Smith.

Because it is a symbol of how housing discrimination affected African Americans in Minneapolis, the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.

Location: 4600 Columbus Avenue South

Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church

Associated with the Shingle Creek African American Community, this church's early congregation consisted of former slaves and the children of former slaves who moved away from the South to seek better lives. 

This community achieved higher rates of homeownership and literacy than nearby European settlers during a period of harsh racial discrimination and segregation.

Location: 5100 James Avenue North

Lena O. Smith House

Lena Oliver Smith was a prominent civil rights attorney and activist, a founding member of the Urban League of Minneapolis, and the first woman president of the Minneapolis National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Her house has been designated a historic landmark in honor of her work in trying to end racial injustice and segregation in Minneapolis and around the nation.

Location: 3905 5th Avenue South

Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder Building

The headquarters for this family owned African-American newspaper is the site of the oldest Black business in the state of Minnesota. The Spokesman Recorder is a combination of two newspapers, Minneapolis Spokesman and Saint Paul Recorder, created by publisher Cecil Newman in 1934. It is known for its role in reporting on the challenges African-Americans faced both in the Minneapolis community and around the nation.

Location: 3744 4th Avenue South

Fort Snelling: Dred Scott’s quarters 

Fort Snelling is a military fort that is the origin of a wide history of stories, including those of Native peoples, trade, soldiers and veterans, enslaved people, immigrants, and the changing landscape. As many as 40 slaves lived in this Minnesota fort at any given time, including Dred Scott and his wife Harriett, who famously sued for their freedom after being brought by their owner to live in free territories in the north where slavery was illegal.

At Fort Snelling visitors are encouraged to learn about the stories of the men and women who were enslaved here by visiting the spaces where they lived and labored.

Location: 200 Tower Ave.

Morrill Hall

Morrill Hall is an administration building at the University of Minnesota. In 1969 a group of students staged a 24 hour protest against the school's administration. The demonstration was made to shine a light on the hostile campus environment towards black students and the absence of an African American studies department. The result of the protest successfully established the Department of Afro-American studies, one of the first in the nation and the creation of scholarships and programs for Black students.

Location: 100 Church St SE

St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church

Established in 1863, right after the Emancipation Proclamation, St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church was the first Black church in Minnesota. 

Location: 3600 Snelling Avenue

Minnesota African American Heritage Museum and Gallery

This museum explores the history of African Americans in Minnesota by giving visitors a look at the achievements, contributions and experiences of Black people through different displays and exhibits.

Location: 1256 Penn Ave N

Capri Theater

A place where Prince held his first concert as a solo artist, the Capri Theater has been a staple on West Broadway and the historically Black North Minneapolis neighborhood.

Location: 2027 West Broadway