Thanks to its abundance of historic homes, St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood was named by This Old House magazine as one of the nation's 50 best places to buy an old house.

The area, just northeast of downtown, offers views of both the skyline and the Mississippi River and is described in the July/August issue ( as "a diverse urban enclave bursting with restaurants, churches, shops, and galleries."

It was the community's commitment to the preservation of historic homes that bumped it onto the shortlist, said senior editor Deborah Snoonian.

The magazine's staff gathered data about candidates from experts on old houses, state and local preservation groups and homeowners.

"We found people in Dayton's Bluff who are passionate about owning and maintaining older houses, and they have the support of local groups," she said.

St. Paul has designated about 600 houses and other buildings as historic, including a range of architectural styles such as Queen Anne, Italianate, Colonial Revival and Arts and Crafts.

The affordability of those houses also helped Dayton's Bluff make the list, which includes Galena, Ill., and Lawrence, Kan.

"Beautifully preserved and maintained older homes are not out of reach financially in Dayton's Bluff," Snoonian said.

The article cited prices that range from $20,000 for an abandoned property to $300,000 for a lovingly restored Queen Anne. This year, the average sale price of a home in the part of St. Paul that includes Dayton's Bluff was $192,684, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

Chris Kawohl, a ReMax Results sales agent, said that architecturally interesting fixer-uppers start at $50,000.

Kawohl added that community groups and homeowners are trying to preserve the neighborhood's old structures. "If someone wants to get their hands dirty and put in some serious work, they can have a stunning home for a low price," she said.

Information for buyers and owners

• Dayton's Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services offers down-payment assistance, low-interest home improvement loans and assistance in finding contractors. For information call 651-774-6995 or visit

• Historic St. Paul, a nonprofit preservation group, provides low-interest loans for exterior improvements that enhance the character of owner-occupied homes. Call 651-222-3049 or visit

Source: Regional Multiple Listing Service

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619