If you see an old building covered with big pink and red hearts next week, it’s more than just a quirky urban art project. It’s a “heart bombing,” a way to show some love for structures that have stood the test of time.
The five buildings that will be festooned with valentines by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) aren’t endangered or architectural marvels. They’re just “regular historic buildings, that show character in all its different forms,” said Will O’Keefe, PAM’s real estate program coordinator. “Preservation is not just saving buildings in danger, but loving the ones we already have.”
If you like seeing the school you attended as a kid or dropping in at your favorite old corner bar, you believe in preservation, according to PAM. That’s why members are heart-bombing buildings like 1600 W. Lake St., the 1939-built home to Uptown eatery Barbette.
“What’s nice about that building is nothing major — it’s just a nice old building,” O’Keefe said. “That corner wouldn’t be the same without it.”
Other buildings to be showered with heart-shaped affection include the J.B. Hudson House, a restored Victorian at 3127 2nd Av. S., in Minneapolis’ T.P. Healy Historic District; the 1918-built Barenson House at 1358 Summit Av., St. Paul; the Sheltering Arms Home, a former orphanage, built in 1891, that sat vacant for several years and is now being rehabilitated, at 2648 Emerson Av. N., Minneapolis; and the Schmidt Artist Lofts inside the former brewery on W. 7th Street in St. Paul. (Only the inside will be decorated at the Schmidt building.)
The laminated hearts go up Monday, starting with the Minneapolis sites and then moving to St. Paul. Hearts will remain in place for several days, according to O’Keefe. The public is invited to show the love by visiting the heart-bedecked buildings and posting photos of them on social media (#heartbomb). On Monday from 6 to 8 p.m., the public is invited to a kickoff celebration at Schmidt Artist Lofts in St. Paul.
Heart-bombing for preservation is new to the Twin Cities, although similar events have been staged in several other cities, including Buffalo, N.Y., where the idea was hatched as a way to raise awareness of vacant historic homes. PAM is bringing “heart bombing” to Minnesota to foster appreciation of heritage buildings, O’Keefe said. “We’re showing love for these places and trying to engage people in a different way.”