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MPDF on Prince, a Minnesotan and Global Superstar

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The Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (MNSHPO) presented to the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Review Board and the National Park Service a Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF) on Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson), who was a seminal influence on the music industry and one of the foremost innovators of the 'Minneapolis Sound' (the City of Minneapolis is a Certified Local Government) in the early 1980s. The MPDF, 'Prince, 1958 – 1987' is one of the most unique contextual studies completed in Minnesota in some time. It tells the story of the musician, and the places that influenced his life and nurtured his talents.

The MPDF highlights properties known to have been associated with Prince in some fashion. It also provides the Registration Requirements for determining if a particular property tied to the musician is in fact eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The document is well researched and well written. In fact, it may be as detailed as any book that has been published since Prince passed away. The Registration Requirements are well analyzed and crafted, ensuring that only those properties that truly helped shape the musician into the superstar that he was to become would be listed in the National Register. The document is a welcome addition to the history of Minnesota and its residents, many of whom have made a substantial contribution to the country.

In Minnesota we do not have many MPDFs that focus on individuals and that may be largely the case in many states, for MPDFs are mostly focused on a particular property type – banks or schools or bridges, for example. With this MPDF we are still looking at properties, but we are focusing on properties tied to a specific individual. That is different, that is unique. Through this study several properties known to have been frequented by Prince have been identified, although we suspect there may be more.

The period of significance for the MPDF begins in 1958, when Prince was born, and it ends in 1987. This was the year that the performer opened his artist compound Paisley Park in Chanhassen, Minnesota. It marked a shift in the location of the residential, recording, and performing aspects of his life. It was during this period of significance that Prince became the impressive musician that we remember. He not only perfected his use of various instruments during this period, but he also mastered studio engineering, and then landed a major recording contract. He was only nineteen at the time. The musical style that he helped create was embraced by the world. It is difficult to underestimate his impact on popular culture and the music industry.

Perhaps in the future we will see more MPDFs that are like this one. We have certainly taken a different direction with this study, but we are exploring history in new ways, and that is not a bad thing. The 'Prince' MPDF is a special study, and the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Review Board realized that to be so, and so did the National Park Service.

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