by Sue Austreng
The annual Anoka Heritage Home and Garden Tour opens doors to the historic city’s past and offers a peek into the lives of Anoka’s earliest residents.
This year’s tour, set for the afternoon of Sunday, July 15, explores the neighborhood north of Main Street and west of Ferry, an area historically known as Slab Town.
Previous tours, co-hosted by the Anoka Heritage Preservation Commission and the Anoka County Historical Society, have wandered through some of Anoka’s other historic neighborhoods: Christian Hill, Swede Town, Frog Town, Whiskey Flats and the Oakwood Neighborhood.
“It’s lots of fun to have your house on the tour. It’s such a fun day to get people’s reaction, learn about your house’s history, learn about the city and the neighborhood. We really enjoyed being on the tour,” said Pat Bellows, who with her husband Kevin, have already opened their Van Buren Street home to the tour twice.
According to Todd Mahon, executive director of the Anoka County Historical Society, organizers of the tour are currently looking for homeowners in the Slab Town neighborhood who would like to have their homes included on the ninth annual tour.
During the four-hour tour, a volunteer from the Anoka County Historical Society is stationed at each home on the tour, ready to answer questions and tell stories of the home’s first residents. Homeowners simply greet visitors when they arrive and welcome them into the house.
“With the history center providing volunteers to act as tour guides, you just really learn so much about your house, about the people who lived in your house and what their lives were like. It’s really fascinating,” Bellows said.
Folks interested in learning more about the tour and what it’s like to open their home to Anoka Heritage Home and Garden tourists are invited to attend a Feb. 21 information meeting at the Anoka History Center, 2135 Third Ave. N., Anoka.
“The meeting is intended to share information with people who want to learn more about what it would require to be on the tour,” Mahon said. Past homeowners have expressed great satisfaction after opening their doors to home and garden tourists, he said.
“It’s a really fun social occasion for the homeowners and it also gets to be a great neighborhood event,” Mahon said. “Lots of times, homeowners thank us for letting them be on the tour.”
Hundreds of people have toured Anoka’s historic homes and gardens since the home and garden tours began in 2003.
Advance tickets are $10 each, but are not available until two months before the tour date. Tickets purchased the day of the tour are priced at $15.
A color brochure serves as ticket to the walking tour. The brochure includes a map of the neighborhood, with participating houses’ addresses noted and brief stories of the history of each house printed alongside a photograph.
To find out more about being on the tour, call Mahon at 763-421-0600.
Sue Austreng is at [email protected]