Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Featuring Historian John Meffert

Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Featuring Historian John Meffert



Join historian John Meffert on a captivating tour of Minneapolis-St. Paul, a marvelous destination for architecture and art aficionados. Our program takes you beyond mere sightseeing by introducing you to local historic preservation experts and providing exclusive access to private spaces, including a Frank Lloyd Wright home and privately owned homes in St. Paul and Minneapolis, opened exclusively for the National Trust. Stay at the renowned St. Paul Hotel; see Victorian-era mansions along St. Paul’s Summit Avenue; take a backstage tour of the Guthrie Theatre designed by Jean Nouvel; explore Frank Gehry’s spectacular Weisman Art Center and its excellent American art collection; enjoy a lively reception in a private home; and finish with a sunset dinner cruise on Lake Minnetonka.

Pricing from
Trip Type
Closer to Home, Group Travel Tour
Departure Dates
Sep 15, 2024 - Sep 20, 2024


  • John Meffert

    John Meffert

    John Meffert, consultant on Heritage Conservation Services, has a long tradition with the National Trust. He has served as the Director for our Southern Office and was the director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, the oldest nonprofit organization in the United States, responsible for preserving the historic resources of Charleston, S.C. John has delighted many study tour groups with his lectures and insights on preservation, and receives rave reviews as study leader.


  • day 1

    Welcome to St. Paul

    Upon arrival at Minneapolis St. Paul airport, transfer independently to the landmark St. Paul Hotel, a luxury 1910 hotel and a member of the Historic Hotels of America program. The hotel offers an excellent location within walking distance of the Landmark Center, City Hall, Ordway Theatre, and Science Museum. At 4:00 pm, join study leader John Meffert for an overview of the days to follow. Then venture out on an orientation walking tour of St. Paul, viewing Rice Park, the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, the City Hall and Courthouse, and St. Paul’s waterfront. Continue to an excellent restaurant for a welcome dinner.

  • day 2

    St. Paul

    Walk to City Hall, built in the American Perpendicular style with an ornate interior designed in the “Zigzag Moderne” style. The Art Deco theme can be found throughout the building, even down to details such as door
    handles, light fixtures, stair railings, and even the lobby mailbox. View the spectacular Vision of Peace sculpture by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles in the ornate, three-story Memorial Hall. Continue on foot to the nearby Landmark Center, a dynamic cultural center for music, dance, theater, and exhibitions, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Like the Old Post Office Building in Washington D.C., it was designed by Willoughby J. Edbrooke in the Romanesque Revival style with numerous turrets, gables, and dormers. The interior features a five story courtyard with skylight and grand rooms appointed with marble and carved mahogany details. Learn how this impressive building was saved from demolition and the story of its remarkable preservation. Following a casual lunch downtown, set forth on a private city orientation bus tour. Admire the State Capitol designed by St. Paul native Cass Gilbert who also designed the U.S. Supreme Court. It features the second largest self-supporting marble dome in the world. At the St. Paul Cathedral, marvel at the recently restored 175-foot-high copper dome and magnificent stained glass windows. Tour Summit Avenue and view the nation’s most impressive array of Victorian mansions, including a stop to visit the James J. Hill Mansion, the 36,000 square foot “Gilded Age” residence of the founder of the Great Northern Railroad. Stop to see a magnificent private home owned by members of the National Trust. Return to the hotel or enjoy a longer outing by strolling through the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary and around the exterior of the Custom House. The evening is at leisure.

  • day 3


    During a morning visit to the Weisman Art Museum, designed by Frank Gehry, see masterpieces from its important American Modern Art collection. Explore Minneapolis’ Waterfront Park, including a stop at the Mill City Museum. Following lunch, visit Jean Nouvel’s Guthrie Theater for a backstage look at how shows progress from script to stage. Experience the theater’s cantilever walkway and its incomparable view of the Mississippi. Drive through downtown Minneapolis to see its most important skyscrapers, including Phillip Johnson’s beautifully reflective IDS Center and Cesar Pelli’s Gaviidae Common and Wells Fargo Center. The evening is at leisure.

  • day 4


    Begin your day at the Purcell-Cutts House, built in 1913 by Purcell and inspired by the
    style of Louis Sullivan. It is considered one of the most significant examples of Prairie School architecture and most of its furnishings are original to the home. Continue to the famed Minneapolis Institute of Arts for a curator-led tour of its decorative arts collection. Following lunch in the Walker Art Museum’s café, enjoy a stroll through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the largest urban sculpture garden in the U.S. Drive to Lowry Hill for a view of contemporary homes, stately older mansions, and several houses that show a strong Prairie School influence. Stop at the Memorial Chapel, one of the most perfect examples of Byzantine mosaic art in the United States. When it was completed in 1910, it was the only building in America with an authentic mosaic interior. Designed by prominent Minneapolis architect Harry Wild Jones and modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During a reception hosted at a private home, discuss current preservation issues with your hosts, fellow members of the National Trust. The evening is at leisure.

  • day 5

    Excursion to Stillwater

    Drive to a privately-owned Frank Lloyd Wright designed house for an exclusive tour of this rarely seen property (pending confirmation). Return to St. Paul for an afternoon at leisure. Set sail on a relaxing sunset cruise on Lake Minnetonka and bid farewell to your fellow travelers over an unforgettable dinner. Return to St. Paul and retire for the evening.

  • day 6

    Farewell Twin Cities

    Following an included breakfast, transfer independently to the Minneapolis St. Paul International airport (MSP) to catch flights home.

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