Want to live in a well-preserved old house with great architectural features?

You could look for one in the usual-suspect neighborhoods, such as Summit Hill in St. Paul, Lowry Hill in Minneapolis or maybe Linden Hills.

Or you could look in St. Cloud.

The city may be better known for granite quarries, but it's now developing a reputation for historic preservation, according to This Old House magazine, which named it a "Best Old House Neighborhood," the only Minnesota neighborhood on this year's list.

"After decades as an industrial city, St. Cloud is refocusing its efforts on becoming a tourist destination billed as 'Granite City USA,'" states the magazine. "The central business district of the downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places, and property owners are being encouraged to perform exterior improvements in a historically sensitive manner."

Preservation momentum and housing stock were the main factors in St. Cloud's selection, according to Deborah Snoonian, senior editor of This Old House magazine. "What attracted us to St. Cloud was the number of homes built during the Victorian era, and the variety of different styles," she said, including Queen Annes and Richardsonian Romanesques.

Historic houses in St. Cloud start at about $100,000 and top out at about $400,000, according to the magazine, which makes St. Cloud a bargain compared with most historic neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. "Affordability was definitely on our minds," Snoonian said.

And if St. Cloud is a bit of a sleeper, well, that's just another plus. "Part of what we like to do is highlight places people don't know about already," Snoonian said.

This is the third year This Old House has compiled its list of Best Old Neighborhoods. Last year, Morgan Park in Duluth made the cut. The year before that, the magazine chose St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood.

You can check out the complete list of 51 "Best Old House Neighborhoods" in the March issue of the magazine, on newsstands now, or online at www.thisoldhouse.com/ best-places.

Kim Palmer • 612-673-4784