History

Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts (BLCA) is a nonprofit community art center. Established in 1979, it was known as North Suburban Center for the Arts. In 1988, the Art Center outgrew its original shopping mall home and settled in to the historic former Tavern and farm house–the Banfill-Locke house–on the Mississippi River in Fridley. Owned and maintained by Anoka County through its Parks and Recreation Department, BLCA is pleased to continue a public/private partnership with Anoka County.

A colorful past adds historic charm to the Center. In 1847, the John Banfill Wayside Inn was erected as a stop for soldiers and fur traders who traveled the course of the Red River Trail. Prior to 1847, the area was a wilderness site for sawmills and lumber camps.

When the first Territorial Road was completed, Banfill Inn became a popular social stop for visitors from St. Paul. Within a few years the building was expanded to include a post office and general store. The Inn prospered, serving as an important hub in the community.

In 1857, the Banfills sold the property which passed through several hands until 1912, when the Locke Family purchased the land and building for use as a dairy farm and, eventually, their summer home.

This well-conserved sample of Greek Revival is listed on the National Registry of Historic Sites; the building and surrounding property is now owned by Anoka County. Restored to its former beauty, the erstwhile Inn has regained its role as a community center. Perched on the top of a hill overlooking the park where Rice Creek empties into the Mississippi River, the Center has moved gracefully into the new millennium with a sense of place and purpose. While the sawmill and red river carts have come and gone, duck, geese, heron, and an occasional eagle still greet visitors in the lovely, award-winning Manomin Park.

Minnesota History in 90 Seconds – Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts

Link to audio