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Shaw–Hammons House

Contributor: 
Johannes Allert
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The Shaw-Hammons House (302 Fremont Street, Anoka), ca. 2013. Photographer unknown. Used with the permission of Anoka County Historical Society.

The Shaw-Hammons House (302 Fremont Street, Anoka), ca. 2013. Photographer unknown. Used with the permission of Anoka County Historical Society.

Built in 1854, the Shaw-Hammons House has also been known as the DeGraff–Follrath House. As of 2020, it is the oldest extant home in the city of Anoka.

In 1854, Neil Shaw purchased and platted 160 acres of land in present-day Anoka County with his three sons. They built the family home out of simple wood and clapboard siding while using elements of Greek Revival-style architecture in the formal design. Crowned with a slightly pitched roof, the eaves feature a detailed classical cornice; the returns at the gable ends, the shuttered front windows, and the entrance resume the symmetry and grace of its style.

Shaw used the east section of his house as one of Anoka’s original store fronts from the 1850s into the 1870s. Afterward, ownership of the property changed hands many times. One of Anoka’s more prominent citizens, a transplanted attorney from Maine named Weston Hammons, purchased the home in 1870. That same year, Hammons added to the west section, creating a two-and-a-half-story structure with a full basement, which came to be considered the main house. Additional modifications involved remodeling the front façade, including the veranda, with turned posts and decorative spandrels (the spaces between arches). The interior of this section contains two parlors and a closet on the first floor, as well as two bedrooms, two closets, and a bath on the second floor. Hammons later expanded his business interests into the local lumber industry and to Anoka’s Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Company, which endured as one of Anoka’s most significant enterprises during the 1880s.

In 1883, Justice W. DeGraff, a railroad contractor and engineer, purchased the house for his wife and daughter. His only child, Marie, soon developed a keen interest in gardening and flowers. When she inherited the home from her parents, she expanded the property’s garden. Under her care, the south side of the narrow lot along the house became a prolific producer of brightly colored flowers and plants, many of which Marie bred herself. To supplement her income, Marie gave piano lessons to the local children and was recognized as an accomplished artist.

When Marie moved to a senior care facility in 1965, the house changed hands once again, this time to Darwin Follrath and his wife. The couple restored the home to its original 1870 configuration, and on February 11, 1980, the home received an official listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

After the Follraths sold the home to a development company, it fell into disrepair. The developers considered it too far gone to restore and attempted to demolish it in order to make way for a condominium, though city zoning and preservation ordinances prohibited it. With those plans effectively cancelled and the home listed on the “most endangered” list compiled by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, the developers sold the home to a private citizen whose time, money, and efforts eventually revived it to its original 1870 luster.

Editor’s note: This article contains content adapted from a National Historic Register nomination file—a public-domain text.

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© Minnesota Historical Society
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Levy, Paul. “This Old House Gets A Lease on Life.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 17, 2012.
http://www.startribune.com/this-old-house-gets-new-lease-on-life-but-others-slip-into-history/170123376

"Shaw–Hammons House–Anoka, Minnesota." YouTube video, 4:16. Posted by Anoka County Historical Society, July 1, 2019.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqkbM0SCyLk

“Shaw-Hammonds House Among State’s 10 Most Endangered Properties.” Anoka County Union, May 7, 2004.

Spaeth, Lynne VanBrocklin. “Shaw–Hammons House.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. State Historic Preservation Office, St. Paul.
https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=1726e55a-f19a-4b46-9d94-2285df37c5cb

“Tug of War at 302 Fremont.” Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 26, 2005.

Related Images

The Shaw-Hammons House (302 Fremont Street, Anoka), ca. 2013. Photographer unknown. Used with the permission of Anoka County Historical Society.
The Shaw-Hammons House (302 Fremont Street, Anoka), ca. 2013. Photographer unknown. Used with the permission of Anoka County Historical Society.
Front of the Shaw-Hammons house (302 Fremont Street, Anoka), August 1987. Photographer unknown. Used with the permission of Anoka County Historical Society.
Front of the Shaw-Hammons house (302 Fremont Street, Anoka), August 1987. Photographer unknown. Used with the permission of Anoka County Historical Society.
Front of the Shaw-Hammons House, 1987. Photographer unknown. Used with the permission of Anoka County Historical Society.
Front of the Shaw-Hammons House, 1987. Photographer unknown. Used with the permission of Anoka County Historical Society.

Turning Point

In the early 1850s, settler-colonist Neil Shaw plats 160 acres of land in present-day Anoka County. Within that area, he builds a Greek Revival-style house for himself and his family.

Chronology

1854

Neil Shaw builds a house for himself and his family in Anoka.

1883

Justice W. DeGraff, a railroad contractor and engineer, purchases the home and begins renovating it to his liking.

1865

Darwin Follrath and his wife began to restore the home to its original configuration and appearance.

1980

The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.