Fire causes damage — again — at one of the oldest buildings in Minneapolis

Plywood covered in scorch marks on the side of a building.
Fire damage is seen on the siding of the historic John H. Stevens House near Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis on Tuesday. It's the second fire in less than a month at the historic building. The scorched boards cover damage from a previous fire on Aug. 30.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

Fire has damaged one of Minneapolis' oldest residential structures for the second time in less than a month.

Minneapolis firefighters responded to the John H. Stevens House in Minnehaha Regional Park at about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday and found a fire at the back of the house.

“Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire found on the exterior rear porch without further extension to the rest of the structure,” the fire department reported in a news release.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board said it had staff on-site Tuesday morning to assess the damage.

Plywood covered in scorch marks on the side of a building.
Fire damage is seen at the historic John H. Stevens House near Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis on Tuesday morning.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

It comes about three weeks after a fire caused "extensive" damage to the home. That Aug. 30 fire burned through a first-floor wall and extended into the second floor.

Dawn Sommers, a spokesperson for the park board, said it is "absolutely, absolutely concerning to the park board that this is happening to the same historic building twice, and within a very short period of time of each other."

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Sommers said there was a fence around the building after the first fire.

Tuesday morning's fire appeared to have scorched plywood covering up damage from the earlier blaze.

There were no reports of injuries from either fire.

The white clapboard wooden structure was built by Stevens in about 1850, and reportedly was the first wood frame house on the west bank of the Mississippi River in what was to become Minneapolis.

The house was relocated to Minnehaha Park in 1896 “in a most unusual display of civic participation,” according to a Minneapolis Park Board history. “The house was pulled by an estimated 10,000 school children, tugging on huge ropes in relay fashion.”

It was moved again in 1983 — that time a couple hundred yards — to its current location. The house has been open for tours several afternoons a week.