John H. Stevens

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Stevens during his time on the Minnesota Legislature.
Statue of John H. Stevens by Johannes Gelert in Minnehaha Park

John Harrington Stevens (June 13, 1820–May 28, 1900) was the first authorized resident on the west bank of the Mississippi River in what would become Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was granted permission to occupy the site, then part of the Fort Snelling military reservation, in exchange for providing ferry service to St. Anthony across the river. The Stevens House was moved several times, finally to Minnehaha Park in south Minneapolis in 1896. The house is now a museum, with tours available on summer weekends. The home was considered to be a civic and social hub of the city, and was used to organize both Hennepin County and the city of Minneapolis.

Stevens was born in Brompton Falls, Quebec, Canada. He attained the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army, and was involved in the Mexican-American War. He served in the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1857–1858 and the Minnesota Senate in 1859–1860. He returned to the house once later in 1876.

Minneapolis and St. Anthony merged in 1872, so there are others who can claim to be earlier Minneapolis residents. The oldest existing house from that earlier settlement was built by Ard Godfrey in 1848, two years before Stevens' home; that house is now at the small Chute Square park in the city.

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Photos at the Hennepin County Library

Photos at the Minnesota Historical Society