I’ve been wanting to visit the American Swedish Institute for many years and finally the stars aligned and hubby and I went this week shortly after they opened in the morning. What an immense house with beautiful woodwork, stained glass and many beautiful and unique fireplaces. It was once owned by and built for Swan Turnblad, owner of the largest Swedish-language newspaper in the U.S. According to ASI’s website, there are 11 tile stoves that were imported from Sweden. Each one is a different color and style and they are just beautiful. A volunteer told us a story about a picture in one of these stoves. It’s of Carlos V (or Charles the 5th) of Spain with the king of Sweden making some sort of deal. The king of Sweden is tossing a paper into the fire to indicate their oral agreement, that they didn’t need to sign a contract. A very beautiful fireplace, and especially due to the picture. Look for it in the gallery below.
Apparently there isn’t a whole lot that is known about the Turnblad family. Not many mementos were left in the house. Here is some of what is known. Swan Turnblad and his wife Christina immigrated to the United States from Sweden when they were children in 1868 and 1876. They married in 1883 and had one child, Lillian, who was born in 1884. Swan was the owner of Svenska Amerikanska Posten, the largest Swedish-language newspaper in the U.S. But one of the volunteers indicated that Swan couldn’t possibly have made enough money from the newspaper to afford building his mansion on Park Avenue in Minneapolis. This volunteer suggested he may have been involved in some under-the-table type dealings which made him more money.
The mansion was built between 1904 and 1908, designed by Minneapolis architects Christopher Boehme and Victor Cordella. The family only lived there a few years before donating it in 1929 to become ASI. It is believe that their apartment above the newspaper’s offices was their main residence, despite having owned the mansion for 20 years.
If you park in the free lot at 27th and Park, you enter a modern building, the Nelson Cultural Center, and that is connected to the mansion. In front of the counter where you buy entry tickets is the Fika Cafe where we had a nice lunch after touring the mansion. There was a glass exhibit, Fluidity, with displays throughout the house. You’ll see a few of these in my photo galleries. You could start the exhibit in the Nelson Cultural Center and continue throughout the house. We enjoyed both the mansion and the many glass exhibits and I’m so glad I finally got to the American Swedish Institute! It was a fun adventure to the other side of the river.
Below is a gallery of some photos that I took with some captions. I hope you will enjoy! First, a gallery of the house and a separate gallery for the glass sculptures will follow, though you will see some sculptures in my photos of the house.
A smaller gallery with some of the glass sculptures we saw.
I had hoped to visit during the holidays as I understand the decorations are wonderful. Perhaps we’ll make it for 2023’s holidays. Something to look forward to! If you’re in Minneapolis, do pay a visit to this beautiful place. Pretty sure you won’t be disappointed. Here’s a link to their website for more information: