Porter Kelsey House
Backstory and Context
Constructed of “buff brick” from the Porter Kelsey brickyard and named after the same business, the Porter Kelsey House in the city of Andover is a two-story Italianate design structure built in 1887.
Although not purely Italianate design, the structure contains elements of this style both inside and out. According to the National Register application, the “L” plan also includes “wide eaves with coupled brackets, truncated hipped roof, rectangular balustrade atop roof, and a veranda surmounted by a balustrade balcony.” The interior retains a significant degree of original design integrity including etched glass doors, carved woodwork, decorative hardware, and lighting fixtures reflective of the era.
The Kelsey Brick Company began operation in 1879. “Most of the brick was shipped by rail from Anoka to Minneapolis and St. Paul,” notes the National Register application “In addition to the home, other local construction projects used the brick, including the Anoka County Courthouse (razed), many schools and churches (only one extant), buildings in the City of Anoka’s commercial district, and the smokestack of the Washburn sawmill in Anoka.” The brickyard closed in 1897 as the result of the Panic of 1893 and the loss of a long sought after railroad spur to the brickyard.
The house remains significant due to its association with a historically important Anoka County brick making industry and well-preserved example of Italianate design features applied to a rural 19th century residence. It received a place on the National Register of Historic places on December 26, 1979.
Porter Kelsey House, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form, State Historic Preservation Office, Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.
“History of the Kelsey Farm.” Anoka County Union, September 5, 1975.
“The Porter Kelsey brickyard.” St. Francis Community Courier, January 1997.
Anoka County Historical Society. Archive Collection. www.anokacountyhistory.org
ABC Newspapers. Shared history of two sites. http://abcnewspapers.com/2013/04/12/anoka-county-history-two-historic-sites-linked-together/
ABC Newspapers. Longest Main street in Minnesota. http://abcnewspapers.com/2013/05/10/anoka-county-history-longest-main-street-in-minnesota/
Anoka County Historical Society. History of Andover. https://anokacountyhistory.org/history-of-anoka-county/history-of-andover/