Crews install second, taller metal fence around historic Minneapolis home after 3 fires

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Section by section, crews erected a second, taller metal fence Wednesday afternoon around the 173-year-old John H. Stevens House in Minnehaha Regional Park.

The historic home is considered the birthplace of Minneapolis and Hennepin County, but has been the site of three separate fires since August. The latest fire broke out early Saturday morning while the house was still under construction following the fires of August 30 and September 20. The September 20 fire was ruled an arson after an accelerant was discovered.

“It’s not a coincidence. It’s three fires, in my mind, logically started,” said Arnie Lemke, who stopped by the scene during a tour of the park.

He thinks the house holds an important place in the town’s history, and that it may have been a motive for the fires.

“Apparently some don’t like what happened…what developed here and would like to see something else here,” Lemke said.

Built in 1849, the historic building was home to one of the city’s first settlers. It was moved to the park about 40 years ago and now serves as a museum.

On Saturday, FOX 9 spoke with a local historian about the significance of the house.

“It’s a complicated story that the house could tell on both sides of it,” said Minneapolis historian Karen E. Cooper, “it has this story about how we started as a city…there is other ways of looking at it because it was Dakota land and because these people were kicked off their land. They were kicked off their land. They literally weren’t allowed to live here,” said Cooper.

FOX 9 learned that Minneapolis Park Police resumed the investigation of the fires Tuesday night. No one is currently in custody in connection with the arson.

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