The Oaklands was the first ever Apartment building built in Minneapolis. It was built in 1889 as an Apartment Hotel. The designer is the famous architect Harry Wild Jones. Over his lifetime, Harry Wild Jones designed over 350 buildings in Minneapolis and around the world. About half of Harry Wild Jones’s buildings still exist. Inside the Oaklands on 9th, down the hallways, is a museum to Harry wild Jones, celebrating his architectural accomplishments. Every room in the Oaklands is supplied with the definitive book on Harry wild Jones.
When the Oaklands was built, it was revolutionary because it was the first building in Minneapolis that was built by the standards that we would consider today to be an apartment building. That is, the Oaklands had self-contained units each with bathrooms and kitchens, and they were accessed by a common entrance from the street. This first ever apartment building in Minneapolis also had an elevator, DC electricity, and forced air heat along with radiator heat. These were ground-breaking inventions at the time.
Although the Oaklands was built as six luxury apartments in 1889, industry grew up around the Oaklands on 9th and drove out the high-end tenets. By the 1920s the owners decided to turn the Oaklands into a Hotel. It became the Delta Hotel. There were two shared bathrooms on each floor and the six units were split into 24 units. In 1958, new owners added bathrooms to all 24 units, and kitchens to almost all of the units. They turned them into small studio apartments.
In 2016, a disastrous fire struck the Oaklands on the third floor. The building was saved, but barely. For three years Oaklands teetered on the brink of destruction. Finally, with a huge push from the city, the Oaklands was restored in 2019. The city of Minneapolis insisted that Oaklands would remain 24 units to promote affordable housing downtown.
During the renovation of the Oaklands, the entire building was equipped with new heating and air systems. It has air conditioning for the first time. The Oaklands received all brand new windows, floors, walls, and ceilings. The Oaklands was equipped with instant hot water to each unit and all of the units, got new kitchens and bathrooms. Although the fire was disastrous, it gave the Oakland’s new birth, and it is a brand new building, celebrating the architecture of Harry wild Jones and housing people with modern amenities.