The Oakland Apartments were built by Harry Wild Jones, an architect who designed more than 350 buildings, mostly in Minneapolis. Minnesota. Harry loved the Oaklands and was very proud that they were the first apartment buildings ever built in Minneapolis. BOOK now at the Oaklands
Background Harry Wild Jones
When Jones was born near the outset of the Civil War, his family had been in the United States for 12 generations. His father wanted him to be a Methodist preacher which Harry tried in Seminary, but hated. So he bucked his dad, went to MIT for two years to become an architect and landed a job immediately as a draftsman with the most prestigious Boston firm headed by Henry Hobson Richardson, who only hired the best.
Richardson made amazing Romanesque Revival buildings and this had a huge influence on Harry Wild Jones, especially in his early work. The Oakland Apartments was one of those very first works of Harry Wild Jones after he left Richardson’s firm and started his own firm in Minneapolis.
The Oaklands looks like a castle on the facade, with an entry that looks like a portcullis, and steps that seem to span a moat, like a drawbridge. The crenelation at the top of the Oaklands looks to resemble the parapets on the battlement of a castle. The rough-hewn stone and all of these features were diagnostic of the style that Harry Jones brought from the East Coast firm, later called Richardsonian Romanesque.
Oaklands as an Apartment
When Harry Wild Jones devised the Oakland Apartments, it was a new concept in Minneapolis for every unit to have a self sufficient kitchen, and even its own bathroom. Also it was a revolutionary concept for a single door to service multiple interior units. These three features were a first at the Oaklands in Minneapolis and it became the first of what we would consider today to be an apartment. At the time, the Oaklands was called a
The Oaklands was called a Family Hotel, because of the self contained nature of the units. Units like these sprang up around Minneapolis and helped the density in the interior of the city of Minneapolis and on its main streetcar lines.
Oaklands Big Renovations
Oaklands on 9th today is a furnished extended stay apartment hotel. However, it has gone through three huge renovations. In 1922 the Oaklands was split into 24 units and turned into a hotel with most rooms not having a kitchen and only a hallway bathroom, one for men, one for women. In 1958 these 24 units all were renovated to have their own bathroom and kitchen. After a fire in 2016, the 2021 renovation updated all of the bathrooms and kitchens, but also all of the HVAC and electrical.
Oaklands as a Tribute to Harry Wild Jones
If you stay at the Oaklands on 9th, you will notice that the interior of the building is a museum to Harry Wild Jones. A 450 foot timeline down the hallway walls has the most complete pictorial depiction of all of Harry Wild Jones’s work chronologically. These were donated by Elizabeth A. Vandam who wrote the only authoritative work on the architect. The 2008 book is called, Harry Wild Jones, American Architect, and is provided for every guest in the rooms. BOOK now at the Oaklands
Stay at the Oaklands on 9th and learn about Harry Wild Jones, architecture, and downtown Minneapolis as seen through the eyes of the Oakland Apartments.