Anoka open to ideas for future use of historic Woodbury House

While the plan was to resell the Woodbury House as a single-family home, the city of Anoka is willing to entertain some alternatives.

The Anoka City Council is open to ideas on the future use of the Woodbury House. Photo by Sue Austreng
The Anoka City Council is open to ideas on the future use of the Woodbury House. Photo by Sue Austreng

The city bought the historic riverfront home at 1632 S. Ferry St. from the Anoka Housing and Redevelopment Authority in March for $330,000. The housing authority had owned it since August of 2012, buying the foreclosed property before it went up for auction.

The council is considering adding a public trail to site along the Rum River.

Later this month the city will request proposals on plans for the Woodbury House.

This comes after a longtime Anoka business owner shared her own vision for what could happen at the historic home.

Liz Koch, owner of the Mad Hatter Tea Room, is interested in relocating her tea room to the Woodbury House. She and her husband Tim would like to lease the property from the city, as they are outgrowing their current space in the old post office building on Main Street.

“When we heard the city had purchased the Woodbury House, we became very interested in the possibility to relocate the tea room to that spot,” Koch said. She has also been looking at other communities for possible relocation, according to Koch.

“Of the 41 tea rooms registered in the state of Minnesota, we have been the number one tea room for many, many years,” Koch said.

Along with tea service, Koch would also like to add fine dining to the Mad Hatter’s menu Thursday through Saturday, along with a Sunday brunch.

She said she would like to see the Woodbury house as “a place to go, not just to drive by.”

There have been others interested in leasing the Woodbury House for private enterprise, included another fine dining restaurant as well as the base of operations for a trolley service.

The council will review the request for proposals at its June 26 work session and the information will go out to the public shortly after, according to Cruikshank.

Part of that process will include defining what types of operations the city would not like to see at the Woodbury House.

The entire South Ferry Street corridor is under review for future rezoning and redevelopment.

Home and garden tour
The city council has also agreed to let the Anoka County Historical Society include the Woodbury House on the annual home and garden tour, planned for July 14.

Co-hosted by the Anoka County Historical Society and the Anoka Heritage Preservation Commission, the tour is an annual fundraiser.

“It’s a grand home in Anoka,” said Todd Mahon, executive director of the Anoka County Historical Society. “It needs some work but it is breathtaking.

“This is one house people love and adore and are interested in.”

Each year the tour has 250 to 450 people look through historic homes and gardens in the community.

“It would be a shame not to allow people to see it now that it’s in the city’s hands,” said Peg Flaig, a member of the Heritage Preservation Commission.

Councilmember Steve Schmidt had safety concerns about letting large groups of visitors into the Woodbury House.

The property will be inspected by the city’s building official prior to the home and garden tour, said Cruikshank. The second floor and basement will be roped off and not open to visitors.

Planning Director Carolyn Braun said having the Woodbury House on the tour could tie into some energy in Anoka to get the property fixed up.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]

  • Leah Johnson

    I am the one that gave the city a free business plan that i have had peers in the fine dining restaurant industy in the Twin Cities go over and give the thumbs-up on.
    I have a facebook page and website

  • Joe Garrick

    Without having seen the interior, it seems the house would make an excellent bed and breakfast.

    In any case, since the city now owns it, at a minimum the city should create a public trail though the property along the river. It would be great to eventually connect Peninsula Point to the rest of the trails along the Rum, and this is a key property on that route.

  • Bruce Bergley

    Using this House for some sort of Comercial enterprise raises the question of Parking. I’ve gone past this property for decades, and I can’t see where that drive could handle more than10-15 cars. Are the restaurant plans proposing paving over most of the lawn?

  • Tom Archibald

    It would make a perfect Art Center. A place for painters, sculpters, photographers and the like can not only display their works, but also teach, share, and experience art together. A place that offers training with all types of classes in the arts. A previous home with all kinds of different rooms makes the perfect place for such activities with place to visit, teach, and display art. Even a kitchen built in already. I would cite the Edina Art Center as a great example of what could be done. It is a warm, friendly, inspiring place that has kept the artistic spirit alive in their community.