Under a renegotiated lease, Minneapolis Park Superintendent Al Bangoura would occupy the entire Theodore Wirth Home, while public tours of the historic house would be curtailed.
The lease, released this week, gives Bangoura exclusive access to the three floors of the home, which overlooks Lyndale Farmstead Park in southwest Minneapolis. He would be able to open the house to the public “at key times,” according to the new language.
Park Board commissioners were scheduled to vote on the lease at their meeting Wednesday evening, but they lacked a quorum. Missing were commissioners Brad Bourn, AK Hassan, Londel French, Kale Severson and President Jono Cowgill, according to Robin Smothers, a parks spokeswoman.
The lease limits access for the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society, which has hosted regular tours of the house since 2018.
The nonprofit owns the archives of Wirth, the first superintendent to live in the home, and has furniture and other artifacts arranged on the first floor.
Under the new lease, the Legacy Society would have access to the Drafting Room in the basement six days a year. The group would have until May to remove its artifacts from the main floor.
Bangoura could also grant access to other historical organizations, according to the lease.
Rent will rise in stages from $1,325 a month to $2,050 a month starting in 2021. The rent, paid by Bangoura, would go exclusively toward repairs and improvements to the house.
“I am happy with the terms of the lease and am excited the first family of our premier Park system wants to continue to live in a Minneapolis park,” Cowgill, who negotiated the lease with Bangoura, said in a statement Wednesday. “I am beyond excited that the first African-American family to live in this historic house is willing to be the interpreters of the diverse history of our acclaimed Park system.”
Earlier this year, Bangoura said he and his family wanted to occupy the entire 110-year-old home, where he has lived since he began as superintendent in 2019.
“I want to stay in the house with my family because it, and the people I see outdoors daily using the park, reminds me every day why I am here and the responsibility I have to the people I serve,” Bangoura said last month.
Once approved, the lease would go into effect immediately and last throughout Bangoura’s tenure.
Miguel Otárola • 612-673-4753