Preservation of Minnesota history received a major boost this year with Mainstreet Hopkins added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Hopkins Mayor Patrick Hanlon announced the news Tuesday at a public celebration held at Clock Tower Plaza.
"This designation is more than honoring buildings, it’s honoring the people and their stories in Hopkins," Hanlon said, adding the listing became official in January after the Hopkins Historical Society and the Minnesota Department of Transportation applied for preservation with the federal government.
Tuesday's celebration featured remarks from U.S. Reps. Ilhan Omar and Dean Phillips.
Omar said the designation spurs economic growth for Hopkins and creates opportunities for new visitors.
"I know that this historic designation means so many people will have so many beautiful stories to share about Hopkins," she said.
While the National Register listing doesn’t prohibit redevelopment of historic sites, the designation offers incentives to property owners to preserve old buildings through tax credits.
Over 97,000 sites are listed on the register nationwide, according to the National Park Service. Properties are chosen based-on significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture.
In Hopkins, the buildings between 8th and 11th Avenues on Mainstreet are now listed.
The Raspberry Capital
During the streetcar era, business boomed in Hopkins with the growth of local farming operations and downtown shops.
According to historical archives, over 800 acres of raspberry fields were planted in Hopkins during the peak years of the community’s growing operations. From roughly the 1920s through 1940s, Hopkins became known as the "Raspberry Capital of the World."
The Hopkins Raspberry Festival, founded in 1935, continues to this day.
'Come embrace history'
Cheryl Lais began selling vintage and antique jewelry at the Hopkins Antique Mall in 1998 — her business, Heirloom Jewelry, is one of many downtown businesses rooted in celebrating the past.
Lais said the new historic listing brings a renewed sense of pride to her work on Mainstreet.
“It’s lovely and wonderful to have,” she told Bring Me The News, adding Hopkins feels like a small town within the big city. “I’m so proud and so happy to be here.”
And, while the town’s historic buildings mix with new establishments, the bygone days of Hopkins remain some of the community’s most treasured.
“We’re not a cookie-cutter,” Lais said. “We’re a place to come embrace history.”