During the the 1950’s there was a builder by the name of Edward Tilsen and a Realtor by the name of Archie Givens, Sr. who were the first in the nation to open up a private housing project that would be racially mixed. Or at least this is the first development on record. This 63 home development was watched closely by FHA and the VA as a pilot project for private housing development.
For the first time anywhere in the nation, new private housing in Minneapolis will be available to Negro Americans on the “open” market. Heretofore new homes that could be purchased by Negroes and other minorities has followed a strict Jim Crow ghetto pattern.
The Tilsen development was located in south Minneapolis between 40th Street. and 47th Street. on Third, Clinton, Fourth and Fifth Avenues South.
It is hard to imagine that the housing market was that segregated only a short time ago, and kind of cool to know that our region was one of the first in leading the nation into racially integrated housing.
I was completely unaware of this history in the area and only learned of it when I recently attended a Bryant Neighborhood Organization board meeting with a friend who is interested in developing housing in the area.
This puts these homes in the area into a new perspective. These homes could be considered historically significant and may be a treasure for future generations.
Just in case you have interest, here is a property search of that area. The search can not identify homes built by Tilsenbilt, but you can cross reference with the list in the PDF below.
TilsenBilt Homes are still a family owned home builder in St Paul, MN. What a legacy they have built.
You can also learn more about this Bryant Neighborhood Organization
List of Homes constructed by Tilsenbilt constructed and sold in the 1950’s via City of Minneapolis