Today's nomination for the Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series takes us to Owatonna, and comes from one of the world's leading architects.
National Farmers' Bank of Owatonna
Image courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
Not long after I started this series, I recalled an interview I did with architect Cesar Pelli on Midmorning back in 2006. He was in town for the opening of the Minneapolis Central Library, which he designed. But while we were on the air he raved about another architect's work - the National Farmer's Bank in Owatonna, designed by Louis Sullivan:
Louis Sullivan's bank in Owatonna is one of the great buildings in the world. It's a great jewel - the proportions, the forms, the materials are all so exquisitely well used. It's a joy to see it, to be in its space.
Well, that sounds like a nomination to me! Here's what the Minnesota Historical Society has to say about the building:
Location: 101 N. Cedar St., Owatonna, Steele County Built: 1908 Architect: Louis Sullivan and George Elmslie Listed on NRHP: August 26, 1971
One of the first American architects to break free from the influence of classical revival styles, Louis Sullivan completed a series of eight banks in small Midwest towns during the last years of his career. The National Farmers' Bank of Owatonna is arguably the best. Sullivan, known for a "form follows function" philosophy epitomized in his prototype skyscraper designs, applied those principles to the smaller scale of the Prairie School bank's still-monumental form.
Sullivan designed the bank to resemble a jeweled strongbox, giving depositors a sense of security. The building is bathed in a symphony of color, as Sullivan described it. Green and brown terra cotta panels and blue and gold glass mosaic bands contrast with the reddish brick walls and the red sandstone base that anchors the bank to its site. Elegantly arched stained-glass windows are mirrored on the interior by murals of dairy and harvest scenes painted by Chicago artist Oskar Gross. The lavish organic ornamentation, designed largely by Sullivan's partner George Elmslie, carries through all interior elements, from 18-foot-tall light fixtures down to the tellers' window grills.
National Farmers' Bank of Owatonna interior cast iron electrolier, 2001
Image courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
Have a building you'd like to nominate to the Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series? Send a photo or two, along with your explanation of why you like the building, to firstname.lastname@example.org.(1 Comments)
Today's nomination is an ode to the movie palaces of the 1930s and '40s.
The NorShor Theater in Duluth
Photo courtesy of Robb Mitchell
Robb Mitchell of St. Paul brings us this nomination:
THE VARSITY, UPTOWN, AND NORSHOR THEATERS: Buildings by Liebenberg and Kaplan
Architecture goes through cycles of life and vitality while remaining the cornerstones of neighborhoods and this risk cycle is particularly true of the neighborhood movie palaces. The architecture partnership of Jacob K. Liebenberg and Seeman Kaplan were known for their designs for movie houses/theaters that brought wide acclaim. At the beginning of their careers, Liebenberg and Kaplan embodied of the most eclectic elements of the 1920s and the newer Streamlined and Zigzag Art Deco motifs of the 1930s. During their careers, they designed over 200 movie houses theaters throughout the Midwest. In the Twin Cities alone, Libenberg and Kaplan were responsible for the Granada (Suburban World, 1927-28), the Wayzata (1932), the Edina (1934), the Hollywood (1935), the Uptown (1937), Hutchinson's The State (1937), the Varsity (1938), Duluth's NorShor (1941) and others no longer standing. Often through the cycle of rebirth and renewal we through out gems from our past in favor of the new only to later cringe at our neglect of past palaces.
Preservation is about the art of reversing neglect and ignoring the thrill of current trends.
I found this additional information on the NorShor Theater at its website:
July 11, 1941 NorShor Theatre opens as an Art Deco movie venue. Minneapolis-based architects Jacob J. Liebenberg and Seeman Kaplan design the remodel to include the old Orpheum in its construction, with a new entrance on Superior Street. They reverse the layout of the original theater and add a marquee that includes a 64-foot-high tower, completely sheathed in porcelain, incorporating 3,000 lights. It is said to be visible from 60 miles away. The theater's Arrowhead Lounge milk bar features a mural of dairy and farm life by Gustaf Krollman of the Minneapolis Institute of Art. The opening movie is Caught in the Draft, starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.
Here's that milk bar:
NorShor Theater's milk bar
Image courtesy the NorShor Theater
Many thanks to Robb Mitchell for his nomination. Do you have a building - or series of buildings - you'd like to nominate? Send a photo or two, along with your nomination to email@example.com.
Today's nomination for the Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series takes us to Mahnomen County in Northwest Minnesota.
Mahnomen County Fairgrounds
Comet Bowen sent me a brief note submitting the WPA-era buildings of Mahnomen County for the series, including the county fairgrounds and the city hall. While I couldn't find any information on the city hall, here's what the Minnesota Historical Society has to say about the fairgrounds:
Architect: George H. Carter
First held in Minnesota in the mid-1850s, agricultural fairs provided a gathering spot for the state's farming communities. The harvest celebrations served as social events, educational forums and business opportunities. Fair exhibits featured modern farming techniques and current agricultural research, while livestock and horticultural displays allowed farmers to compare their products. Amusement areas, including rides, games and sideshows, kept fairgoers entertained. The fairs also provided a forum for fund-raising and political discussion of farming issues.
The Mahnomen County Fairgrounds, built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936, has retained five of its original wood-frame buildings, along with an entrance gate and ticket office of indigenous stone. The largest building and focal point of the fairgrounds is the Livestock Pavilion, a hipped-roof, wood-frame building in three sections connected by covered walkways. All contributing buildings on the grounds exhibit architectural characteristics promoted by the WPA, particularly high-quality craftsmanship.
Thanks to Comet Bowen for the nomination. Have you got a building you'd like to submit to the series? Send a photo or two, along with an explanation of why the building appeals to you, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes it's not just the architecture that draws us to a building, but the childhood memories it evokes.
Cream of Wheat, Minneapolis
Photo by Stuart Klipper
Such was the case for photographer Stuart Klipper. Here's his nomination:
I moved to Minneapolis from NYC nearly 41 years to the date.
I quickly began exploring. I wanted to get a handle on the place I had plopped myself down in. An early and exultant discovery was the Cream of Wheat HQ on Stinson Blvd. in one of the industrial quadrants of the city I was drawn to.
From the moment I laid mine eyes on it, I've claimed it to be my favorite building in the known universe. Florid phrasing; but really not hyperbole.
It was archetypal! It bore a cast of purity and authenticity. It was a plainspoken and forthright structure. It was heraldic of American enterprise, and ideals. Standing apart and four-square, flag gloriously rampant at the apex of its tower, I marveled at its bearing and presence.
Across its façade, the name of a favorite cereal of childhood. Yum! I still can sing its advertising jingle.
I am a photographer and have perennially returned to the building and its immediate surrounds to make pictures of it again and again.
Here's what else I was able to find out about the website on the City of Minneapolis website:
The Cream of Wheat Company exemplifies the business spawned in the late nineteenth century by the Midwest's flourishing agricultural economy. Drawn to Minneapolis by the region's dominance in the grain-milling industry, the fledgling company grew to become a major player in the hot cereal market. A symbol of the company's success was its 1927-28 corporate headquarters and factory at 730 Stinson Boulevard. The Cream of Wheat Building, with its prominent corner tower, is of architectural interest as well. Featuring a classic 1920s design that seamlessly incorporates office and factory uses, the building is further enhanced by its setback from Stinson Boulevard and the landscaped yards that surround it on three sides. The noteworthy design by engineer Walter H. Wheeler served the Cream of Wheat Company for several decades until Kraft Foods purchased the company and relocated it in 2002.Now you can actually live in the old Cream of Wheat Company building - it's been converted into "CW Lofts."
Thanks to Stuart Klipper for his nomination. Have a building you admire, that you'd like to share? Send a photo or two along with your nomination to email@example.com.
Today's selection for our Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series seems both modern and timeless as it approaches its 50th anniversary.
St. John's Abbey Church
Image courtesy of Chris Hudson
Chris Hudson, who has quite a bit of experience with architecture, brings us this nomination:
As the editor of Architecture Minnesota magazine, I've had the good fortune of seeing a great many Minnesota landmarks up close, and far and away the one that's made the deepest impression on me is Marcel Breuer's Abbey Church at St. John's. Not a surprising choice, I know. This image by photographer Paul Crosby captures both the breathtaking volume of the interior and how that monumentality somehow becomes intimate with the rich texture and patterns of the board-formed concrete. I could sit in this church for days.
St. John's celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Abbey Church's dedication this fall. On the one hand, it's hard to believe anything so thoroughly modern could be a half-century old. On the other, this landmark has the air of timelessness, of something much older.
The St. John's website has this to add:
The Saint John's Abbey and University Church was designed by the Hungarian architect and former member of the Bauhaus, Marcel Breuer (1902-1981). Mr. Breuer joined Walter Gropius at Harvard in 1937 and worked there as an associate professor until 1946. On his own in New York, Breuer saw a practice that had been essentially residential finally expand into institutional buildings with the UNESCO Headquarters commission in Paris in 1952.
In December 1950, Abbot Baldwin Dworschak, OSB, newly elected sixth abbot of Saint John's, made a bold and visionary decision resulting in what one art historian has called "a milestone in the evolution of the architecture of the Catholic Church in this country." He contacted twelve prestigious architects -- among them was Marcel Breuer. Abbot Baldwin asked the architects to submit a comprehensive building design for the second century of Saint John's.
As part of his specifications, Abbot Baldwin required a design for "building a church which will be truly an architectural monument to the service of God." He explained, "The Benedictine tradition at its best challenges us to think boldly and to cast our ideals in forms which will be valid for centuries to come...."
The monks of Saint John's Abbey chose Marcel Breuer. On January 28, 1954, he brought the drawings, models and books for the comprehensive 100-year plan before a meeting of the monastic community. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that building an addition to the monastic quarters would begin in the spring of 1954 and a church would follow. Construction of the church lasted from May 19, 1958, to August 24, 1961.
Today's nomination is for a family farm built in the 1940s in the Bloomington area, but like many family farms, was removed to make way for a housing development.
All images courtesy Gordon Frederickson
Gordon Frederickson has this nomination for his family's farm:
I like the architecture in Minnesota that came from the needs of regular people who built things quickly to survive. Maybe it's the difference between "great architecture in Minnesota" designed by architects and "great Minnesota architecture" built by regular people.
Attached are my submissions for your request of Minnesota Architecture. The pictures were taken by my wife, Nancy, and are of my parents' barn and silo. The barn was built from used lumber that came from buildings torn down in the Bloomington area about 1940. Field stones were used for part of the basement built on to a wall of stone left from an old horse barn built into the hillside about 1900. The rafters extended to the basement wall giving the barn no wooden sides. The cows were kept in the basement and they could walk out onto ground level on the south end of the barn. The barn was nice and cozy in the winter because the north and west walls were built into the hillside. The silo was built without a roof because it was cheaper.
The barn was not designed by an architect but by my grandfather, William Fredrickson, who had built several houses in Elko, MN and one on his nearby farm. I think the design of the barn was influenced by whatever used lumber was available. My uncle, Ted Cervenka, was the main carpenter and my father, Gordon H. Fredrickson worked on it too. Dad and I built the silo room addition on the south side from scrap lumber about 1958.
Like so many of these structures across rural Minnesota, these are no longer standing. The farm was too small and the buildings not valuable enough to be preserved so everything was removed to make way for a housing development. But I have preserved this great Minnesota architecture heritage through my published books of a farm family in 1950 on a farm that looks very much like this farm that I grew up on.
Many thanks to Gordon Frederickson for his nomination, and for pointing out the beauty of architecture that serves its purpose well.
Have a building you'd like to nominate for our Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series? Send a photo or two along with an explanation of why you're nominating it, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristina Erickson of Herman brings us today's nomination for our Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series. It's a building that people in her home town wanted so badly, they were willing to steal for it, but alas, it stands in Elbow Lake.
Grant County Courthouse
Photo: Calvin Beale
Here's Erickson's nomination for the Grant County Courthouse.
The Grant County courthouse is a grand structure that sits on a hill overlooking Elbow Lake and it's the first thing you see when you turn into town from the south. Being a resident of Herman I must bring up the rather tumultuous past of the recognized seat of Grant County. At the time Herman was a far bigger town and many thought it should be the county seat - disagreement ensued and in the end residents from Herman rigged an election and made off with the court records in the dark of night. At the turn of the 20th century the current structure was built and is still in use today. The high ceilings and cool, echoing halls give one a sense of the past and occasion to remember those who have passed through the doors and the events that the courthouse has overlooked throughout its years.
Indeed, this USDA research site includes the following story about the battle for the county seat between Herman and Pomme de Terre Village:
Although Grant County was formed in 1871, it was not officially established until 1873 when the governor appointed three commissioners to organize the county. These three were Henry Sanford, K. N. Melby, and S.S. Frogner. Their first task was to choose a county seat and elect officers. The only two settlements that amounted to anything at that time were Herman (which already had rail service) in the southwestern part of the county and Pomme de Terre in the northeast. Mr. Frogner wanted Herman to be the county seat; Mr. Melby wanted Pomme de Terre. Mr. Sanford, caught in the middle, privately suggested to Mr. Frogner that a neutral site should be chosen and that it would then be easier to get the county seat moved to Herman at a later date. At least it wouldn't be in Pomme de Terre.
The men chose Elbow Lake as the county seat. It was located next to Sanford's land, nearer to the center of the county than either of the other two choices. It was not until 1878 that a courthouse was even built. Elbow Lake remains the county seat although it was not without a fight. In 1881 Herman was able to get the state legislature to name Herman the county seat if residents of the county voted in its favor. In a special election, it appeared that Herman had won. Although the voting was being appealed, a group from Herman raided the courthouse in Elbow Lake and took all the records to Herman. A courthouse was quickly built there. When an investigation found out that a number of ineligible votes had been cast in the Herman area and that the votes of one of the northeastern townships had not been counted at all, the final vote was overturned and Elbow Lake was again declared the county seat. A number of men from the Elbow Lake area in turn raided the Herman courthouse one night, returning all the records to Elbow Lake.
The present court house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1906.
Thanks to Kristina Erickson for her nomination. Got a building in your neighborhood or town that you think is worth celebrating? Send along a photo and your nomination to email@example.com.
This downtown Minneapolis abode is something Dumbledore would feel right at home in.
Image courtesy Curt Lund
Today's nomination for our Celebrating Minnesota Architecture series is a bit of a magic-themed mystery [Editor's note: not anymore! See below]. Who built it? Who lives there? Curt Lund doesn't know, but the exterior of the building intrigues him:
For a little over four years, I've worked at Minnesota Center for Book Arts, located near the eastern edge of downtown Minneapolis in the Open Book building. And for all those four years, I've walked by this amazing and mysterious fortress, between Open Book and the Metrodome. Turrets, stained glass windows, a walled garden, medieval flags flying -- it looks like a chunk of Ren-Fest dropped into our little corner of downtown. This house has affectionately come to be known as "the Wizard Jail", because of this: an honest-to-goodness wizard (sculpture), breaking out of a barred second-story window. What in the world is this place? The mystery remains -- mainly because I've never worked up the courage to simply go knock on the door and ask!
The "Wizard's Jail"
Image courtesy Curt Lund
Update: Thanks to our dear smart State of the Arts readers, and an article in Twin Cities Metro, we now know much more about the house.
Built in 1911 as a blacksmith shop, musician Jeff Arundel bought the house from Sage and John Cowles (of Cowles Center for Dance), who used the space as a yoga studio/philanthropic office and abode.
That's when he put metalworker Paul Tierney to work converting the space into a home for wizards.
The home is now for sale - for a cool $3.5 million.
You can see many more detailed shots of the home at Paul Tierney's website.
Have a submission of your own for the Minnesota Architecture series? Send a photo or two along with your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org.(4 Comments)
Today's nomination comes from Lake Park, Minnesota, east of Moorhead.
Eksjo Lutheran Church
Image courtesy of Becky Mitchell
Here's Becky Mitchell's nomination for Eksjo Luthern Church:
As a young child growing up in Moorhead, MN I spent many weekends traveling to Detroit Lakes. My parents were both from DL and my grandparents lived there. That beautiful church on Highway 10 in the countryside between Hawley and Lake Park had so many meanings over the years. When I was real young it meant we were almost to grandma's house! As a teenager I have memories of pulling into the lot with a broken down car waiting for help, wondering how many people could possibly go there or why one would travel "to the middle of nowhere" to attend church. After all it wasn't in a big city like Moorhead where church was just a few blocks from your house.
Fast forward many years. I left the Fargo Moorhead area in the late 90's and moved to Ohio. When my family decided to come home to Minnesota, for many reasons we settled in the lakes country. My lakes years were spent in the Cormorant area, we had family here and that is where we wanted to be. Walking into Eksjo Lutheran Church for the first time as an adult with a family, I quickly learned that this church was so much more than a beautiful church on the side of Highway 10 (and of course is very much not in the "middle of nowhere"). There is great pride taken in the Swedish heritage of the church and many spend countless hours working to keep it beautiful and prominent in our community. It is one large family where people gather to celebrate, to mourn, to worship, but most importantly to support each other. It is a place one can go to for friendship, fellowship and it doesn't matter if you attend weekly or yearly, you always have a home at Eksjo.
The church's website has this to add about its history:
On October 16, 1871 seven families, one young woman and ten young men met at the home of O.B. Anderson and adopted a constitution forming "The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Eksjo" (Oak Lake). ...For the first five years families took turns hosting worship services in their homes. In 1878 the first church was built. It's dimensions were 24 feet wide, 30 feet long and 12 feet high. At that time our congregation numbered 100 confirmed members and 150 children, and was being served by our first resident pastor, J.P. Mattson. In 1879 a decision was made to build a parsonage just west of the church. In 1884 the congregation voted to share a pastor with the newly-formed Strandvik congregation, and in 1885 the two congregations called P.P. Hedenstrom. At this time the church building was enlarged to accommodate the growing congregation. It's length was extended by 10 feet, and 14-foot balcony was built. Currently, Eksjo Lutheran Church is a member of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) . It is a part of the Gloria Dei Parish made up of Houglum Lutheran Church, Strandvik Lutheran Church and Eksjo. More then 400 souls are buried in the Eksjo Lutheran Church cemetery.
Many thanks to Becky Mitchell for her nomination. Do you have a building in your community that you particularly admire? Send a photo, along with a paragraph or two explaining why, to email@example.com.
Not many people can claim to love the building they work in, but Cindi Beth Johnson can.
Photo credit: Sieger/Dolan
Here's Johnson's nomination:
Over the last seven years it has been a setting for the gifts of performing artists including Jearlyn Steele, Kevin Kling, Peter Mayer and Sandra Benitez. It has been a place for profound worship services led by students, faculty, and guest preachers. It has been a place for interfaith worship, weddings, memorials, and community presentations by speakers including Walter Mondale, Marcus Borg and Winona LaDuke.
It has been a respite for the weary and a place of engagement for those who come with questions about faith and meaning. The architectural space is a profound statement of God's presence and mystery in the world made manifest in wood, stone and glass.
The HGA website has this description of the building:
Clad in textured precast stone and infused with warm interior light, the 5,300-square-foot Bigelow Chapel has become the architectural focus of the United Theological Seminary's multi-denominational campus. The chapel sits horizontally on its site. A 42-foot-high bell tower marks the south end. A glass curtain wall defines the western façade. Inside the sanctuary, the translucent maple panels radiate warmth while the curving wood frame wraps visitors in a gentle embrace to create an intimate environment. The interior/exterior glass fins further diffuse light from the curtain wall and skylights, introducing a weightless quality.
Many thanks to Cindi Beth Johnson for her nomination. Do you have a building you'd like to nominate to the Minnesota Architecture series? Send a photo or two, along with a paragraph on why you admire it, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today's nomination for the Minnesota Architecture series actually brings together two buildings in one photograph. Look closely; at first the image may appear to be an abstract painting, but it's not.
Gold Medal Flour
Photograph by Todd Donery
Here's photographer Todd Donery's nomination:
This is a photograph I took last fall of the Gold Medal Flour building reflected into Jean Nouvel's Guthrie Theater. My wife and I held our wedding at the Guthrie last July, so it is a special place to us both. The mill area of downtown Minneapolis was a mysterious playground of my youth. I felt a sadness at it's decay through the years and now to see a revitalization in the area brings me much joy.
I love the juxtaposition of old and new in Donery's photograph. FYI, the Gold Medal Flour sign sits atop the grain elevators of the Washburn A Mill Complex. Here's what the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota has to say about the complex:
Built in 1878, the Washburn "A" Mill housed a thriving flour-milling business until the Great Depression. The building sat vacant along the Minneapolis riverfront for six decades until it was nearly destroyed by fire in 1991. Today it stands as a remarkable adaptive reuse as home to the Mill City Museum, which provides hands-on experiences and an interpretive center focused on the city's milling and lumber industries. The architectural firm of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Ltd. designed the project for the Saint Anthony Falls Heritage Center and is an office tenant in the complex. Today the neighborhood surrounding the "A" Mill is a burgeoning center for the arts and residential development.
Thanks to Todd Donery for his nomination. Do you have a beloved Minnesota building you'd like to nominate? Just send along a photo with a few lines explaining why you like it so much to email@example.com.
When people look back at their high school years, not many are thinking about the architecture. But not so for Lynn Falk who, like Robert Zimmerman before her, attended Hibbing High School.
Hibbing High School
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Lynn Falk provides us with today's Minnesota Architecture nomination; here's why she choose her alma mater:
Beyond the beauty of the auditorium and the library, the main entrance has a marble staircase and pillars and additional murals painted on the walls. Being in the high school band, we traveled around the state performing at different schools, and even as a teen, I was able to see how fortunate I was to be able to go to school in a museum. The sad part for me was when they tore down the football field to construct the band and fitness facility. The auditorium has doors on the south side that opened up into the bleachers. All I can say about the auditorium is wow. It is worth the trip to Hibbing to see the beauty of the high school.
Hibbing High School Auditorium
Image courtesy Iron Range Tourism Bureau
A grand staircase leads to the medieval castle-like framework of the historic school, built in the early 1920's for almost $4 million.
Unique hand-molded ceilings in the foyer welcome visitors and accent the breathtaking auditorium designed after the Capitol Theatre in New York City. Cut-glass chandeliers of crystal, imported from Belgium, light the 1800-velvet seat grand auditorium. The cost of each chandelier in 1920 was $15,000 and today they are insured for $250,000 each. The auditorium boasts a magnificent Barton pipe organ, one of only two that still exist in the United States. Containing over 1900 pipes, the organ can play any orchestra instrument except the violin.
Postcard depicting aerial view of Hibbing High School, circa 1940
Image courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society
Hibbing High School was promised to be a "Castle in the Woods" to promote the relocation of the town from North Hibbing. It was funded in large part by mining companies; it was the growth of the mining industry that forced the town to move in the first place.
Interested in nominating a building for the Minnesota Architecture series? Just send a photo with a few lines explaining why you like it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today's selection for our series celebrating Minnesota Architecture is a building complex that has typically drawn strong emotions, both positive and negative.
Christian Novak nominates Riverside Plaza, the apartment buildings designed by Ralph Rapson in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis. Currently the complex is undergoing a $65 million renovation.
I only know a little about the design and architecture. What I love about Riverside Plaza most; it's this "brutalist", intriguing, colorful depiction of Le Corbusier's ideas, providing us with an unadulterated glimpse of Minneapolis. I love the juxtaposition that it was nationally known as the TV "home" to America's sweetheart, Mary Richards (aka Mary Tyler Moore), yet locally, the "crack stacks" as we so lovingly called them, were vital in renaming Minneapolis, Murderopolis. Now it has taken on a new role in the Twin Cities as a cultural hotspot to dozens of ethnicities, languages, and beliefs. It's a housing development that I see everyday. I am excited to know that Ralph Rapson's best work is being revitalized to depict the new tenants. It will be great to see the colors once again pop against the harsh poured concrete.
Thanks to Christian Novak for his nomination. Do you have a building in your town or neighborhood that you particularly admire? Send a photo along with a few lines on why you want to share it to email@example.com, and I'll add it to the series.
Today's nomination for our series celebrating Minnesota architecture was actually constructed in Wisconsin. But today it stands on the campus of Luther Seminary in St. Paul.
photo by Mike Hazard
The spirit of Muskego Church always moves me. It is a log cabin composed of 200 trees. Built in 1844 in Muskego, Wisconsin, near Racine, it was the first Norwegian Lutheran church in America. In 1904 it was taken apart and moved to the campus of Luther Seminary in St. Paul where it was reassembled piece by piece. You can find numbers on the ends of some planks. Muskego, which means sunfish in Potawatomi, is still used as a sanctuary for worship and weddings. I love to sit in it. Inside is a throne-like chair carved out of a single trunk of wood which has human teeth embedded in it.
The Luther Seminary website has this to add:
Fathers and sons cut down, cleaned and hauled over 200 trees while mothers and daughters went searching for moss for the chinking. All this was done in the midst of the immigrants' fight for survival. Even while they were hunting for food, building their own shelters and gathering wood for heat throughout the winter, they built this house of worship.
The congregation sat divided-men on one side, women on the other-in this unheated building. The lay leader, or "klokker," sat on the men's side in front and helped lead worship.
In 1904, it was moved to the campus of Luther Seminary piece by piece and now stands as a reminder that it was the people who sat in these pews who had the vision for this seminary as a place where pastors would train. Their descendants still come to take care of the old building on a regular basis. It is still used as a sanctuary; for worship, weddings, baptisms and ordinations.
The church was also the subject of a profile in American Woodturner magazine, which you can read here.
Interested in nominating a building for the Minnesota Architecture series? Just send a photo or two, along with a few lines on why the building appeals to you, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in buying a beautiful home rich with history?
Today's nomination for our "Celebrating Minnesota Architecture" series happens to be for sale, at the recently reduced price of $995,000.
Photo courtesy John Finn
Here's Winona resident John Finn's nomination:
I nominate Winona's Huff-Lamberton Home that's centrally located at the edge of downtown. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a local historic landmark. The current owners, a local nursing home that used to operate the property as an assisted living facility, have maintained the structure and grounds with a level of care befitting its status as one of Winona's architectural treasures.
The house, brightly lit at sunrise and sunset, is visible from our living room windows. The large landscaped lawns offer abundant opportunities for our dog to chase rabbits. Besides the architectural features and landscape vistas that benefit the neighborhood, the property now serves as somewhat of a deterrent to MnDOT's plans for locating a major highway interchange around it.
The house has been for sale for the past few years with no serious offers because the current zoning limits its use for anything other than the previous assisted living apartments or for three family residences. A zoning change was recently denied due to the wide variety of possible permitted uses that were deemed incompatible with the nature of the surrounding neighborhood and adjacent city park. Since the owners won't be able to afford its upkeep indefinitely, the future of the property is uncertain.
Photo courtesy John Finn
You can find the listing for the property here, which includes several interior shots of the home. Here's the Preservation Directory's information on the property:
The Historic Huff / Lamberton home was originally built by Charles Huff, who platted the city of Winona. Building it of brick and stone with 16" walls, he felt it needed to be strong and enduring like the town he helped to found. It was built over a period of two years with the best materials available and the most skilled craftsmen. Charles was the founder of the Huff House hotel. 15 years later it was purchased by the Lamberton family, prominent bankers and lawyers, who continued to improve the property, adding electricity, central heating, elevator, and eventually, air conditioning. Bas-relief decorations for the music room were imported from France and from Czechoslovakia came hand-cut crystal chandeliers. After Mrs. Lamberton died in the mid-1950's, the home became an orphanage for a time and then an assisted living facility. It is an imposing structure with a prominent tower, carriage house and ornate porch, another addition by the Lambertons. Set on a 1.5 acre parcel across from a beautiful city park in the center of town, it is considered one of Winona's historic jewels.
Many thanks to John Finn for his nomination. Interested in nominating a building in your neighborhood or town? Just send a photo with your explanation of why you're nominating it to me at email@example.com.(1 Comments)
Today's nomination for our "Celebrating Minnesota Architecture" series comes from Pam Capin in Eveleth. Her choice? The Eveleth Manual Training School.
This building has always reminded me of the Larkin Administration Building that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It was built in 1914. I don't know the name of the architect. It is very different from the other Eveleth school buildings, except for the color, and the diamond pattern in the brick just below the cornice. The windows and doors were replaced years ago, which gave the building a more industrial look, and resulted in the differently colored brick around the openings. Notice the old fallout shelter sign above the left side door!
Photo courtesy of Pam Capin
Well, I did a little digging, and I have some information for Pam, thanks to the Minnesota Historical Society and the National Register of Historic Places. The Eveleth MTS was added to the registry in 1980, and according to the entry, was designed by architects William Bray and Carl Nystrom. Here are there bios, thanks to the University of Minnesota's Northwest Architectural Archives:
William Bray was born in New York State in 1868 and had an early apprenticeship there in architecture. He moved to Duluth in 1891 to work as a draftsman and was employed in the office of Traphagen & Fitzpatrick from 1892 to 1898. In 1902, he was a partner of Carl Wirth, and then joined I. Vernon Hill in partnership from 1902 to 1904. From 1904-1905 he practiced alone and in 1905 he partnered with Carl Nystrom; the partnership lasted until about 1915. He returned to private practice and subsequently entered into a partnership with Claude H. Smith in 1923 which lasted until 1925. When Bray retired he moved to California. He died in Beverly Hills in 1959.
Carl Nystrom was born in Sweden in 1867 or 1868 and immigrated to the United States in 1889. He worked in several architects' offices in Ironwood (Michigan), Ashland (Wisconsin), and Duluth, where he settled in 1892. He was a partner in the firm of Young & Nystrom from 1902 to 1905, and then joined William Bray in partnership until 1915. After the dissolution of the firm, Nystrom practiced alone until his death in 1944.
Wondering what a Manual Training School was, exactly? Here's the MNHS' description:
Built in 1914, the Eveleth Manual Training School was Minnesota's first vocational school, established to meet the needs of the iron mining industry as it shifted to extracting and processing lower-grade ores. The new technologies required new kinds of skilled workers - mechanics, vehicle operators, machinists. Vocational schools like this one were thought to be the best way to train industrial workers
Many thanks to Pam for her nomination. Do you have a building you'd like to call out for its particular beauty or charm? Send me a photo, along with a paragraph or two on why you like it, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not one but two people have nominated today's building in our Minnesota Architecture series. It's the Cloquet gas station, designed by none other than famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Lindholm Service Station in Cloquet
Photo courtesy of Historic American Buildings Survey
On the Fourth of July it seemed fitting to honor one of America's great architects, and a building many people will be stopping at this holiday weekend - the gas station.
Our nominations come from Sarah Johnson and Maria Bartholdi - first Maria's nomination:
While I've moved away from Cloquet, the Frank Lloyd Wright gas station will always have a special place in my heart. It sticks out from the rest of the buildings in town -- but not in a bad way. It has a unique, irreplaceable look to it -- and still draws in tourists more than 50 years after its construction. It's also the *only* service station Wright ever designed. It looks impossible... meaning, it looks as though it shouldn't be able to stand -- thanks to the crazy way it's constructed. An awesome bit of architecture in a tiny, unassuming town. What more could you ask for?
Indeed! And here's Sarah Johnson's nomination:
My parents have a cabin on Lake Vermilion so I pass it on the way "up north" and it never ceases to amaze me as an unexpected find in such a small town. I've stopped there numerous times as it's still a functioning full service gas station but I've never learned what drew Frank Lloyd Wright to Cloquet? And why did he decide to design a gas station there? Maybe someday when I'm a woman of leisure I'll have a chance to look into it.
And in his story, Weber provides what may serve as the answer to both of Sarah Johnson's questions:
The station is named for Ray Lindholm, who hired Wright to build it a few years after Wright built Lindholm's private home. Lindholm's grandson, John McKinney, now owns the station.
"I think Wright probably pushed it, too, is what I'm hearing," said McKinney. "Once the house was built, [Wright said] 'Mr. Lindholm, let's build this station.'"
FYI, the Cloquet gas station cost approximately four times the average cost of building a station in the late 1950s ($20,000, instead of $5,000), probably due in part to its copper roof.
Have a Minnesota building you're particularly fond of? Send me a photo with your nomination - email@example.com.(1 Comments)
And we're off! Today marks the first installment of what I hope will be a long-lasting series, celebrating the great architecture of Minnesota.
We begin with a charming submission from Audrey Helbling:
Vesta liquor store
Here's Audrey Helbling's nomination:
The two photos I am submitting are of the Vesta Municipal Liquor Store in my hometown. That would be Vesta, a farming community of about 350 half way between Redwood Falls and Marshall along State Highway 19 on the southwestern Minnesota prairie.
Only in recent years have I come to appreciate the exterior of Vesta's muni, built in 1961. I don't know the architectural style (maybe art deco), but the simple lines of the building and the colorful tile on the front appeal to me aesthetically. I can't recall ever seeing another structure quite like this.
Adding to the building's charm is the vintage signage. I shot these images with my son's cheap point-and-shoot camera some five years ago, before I got my Canon DSLR. I haven't checked recently to see if anything has changed on the muni's exterior. It is one of the few remaining businesses on the one-block main street of my hometown.
If you take the time to explore the small towns of Minnesota, you'll find many such architectural treasures.
Helbling keeps a blog called "Minnesota Prairie Roots" where she recently wrote about an old bank building in Mankato and how it relates to a current sculpture exhibit in that city. You can find it here.
Interested in nominating a building from your neck of the woods? Send a photograph of it, along with a few lines on why it appeals to you, to firstname.lastname@example.org. It's that simple.(2 Comments)
My nomination for the MN Architecture series: Church of St. Columba, in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood of St. Paul
Last week I put out a call for people to nominate their favorite buildings near where they live. Whether it's a church, a school, a Dairy Queen, or someone's home, the only thing it needs to qualify is your affection.
I'm happy to say I've already received several submissions, from Faribault to Eveleth and points inbetween.
Don't be left out! Give your local architectural gem the fame and glory it deserves!
All you have to do is take a picture of the building and email it to me (email@example.com) with a short paragraph on why you like it. Easy as can be.
I'll start posting the results on Friday.(1 Comments)
The Childrens' Theatre Company has announced it's eliminating approximately 9% of its full and part-time staff positions, and eliminating two shows from its coming season (Ballonacy and Lord of the Flies) in an effort to trim its budget to a more sustainable size.
In a written statement to the press, CTC officials said these changes will result in an 11 percent reduction in the budget size of the organization, down-shifting it from $10.7 to $9.4 million.
This comes after a 14 percent cut to the budget last year, which then stood at $12.3 million.
Neither Managing Director Gabriella Calicchio or Artistic Director Peter Brosius were available for questioning beyond their comments in the printed release.
Claire Thoen sent in our latest submission to the We Art Minnesota series. Her favorite piece of art is found in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts' permanent collection. She writes:
There are hundreds of works of art that I love and could be considered favorites but I am drawn to this one because it had a place in someone's daily life. I like to think of the delight it gave to those who used it.
It's translucence draws me to it and a trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is not really complete until I've visited this precious object one more time.
Claire took these pics with her cell-phone (nice job!) - here's her favorite vantage point, highlighting the plate's translucence:
The plate's label reads:
China, Ch'ing Dynasty Plate, 18th-19th century Jadeite
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Augustus L. Searle
Centrifigal tiers of fluted petals form a chrysanthemum design on both sides of this thin, Indian-style plate, the petals of the flower curling under at the rim. As is typical of much Mughal style jade carving, the quality of the stone is superb and the standard of craftmanship exceptional. Records show this work to have been purchased from the imperial collection in the early 20th century.
Thanks for the submission, Claire!
And for the rest of you out there, if you have a favorite piece of Minnesota art that you'd like to submit, send it on in.
Susannah Schouweiler knows her art; she's an editor for mnartists.org. She writes about Franconia Sculpture Park:
I've been a fan of Franconia Sculpture Park for a while now, but I really fell in love with the place last September at Franconia's Art & Artists Festival and Celebration when we took our son, George, with us. Seeing our three-year-old explore the park, watching him scramble over, around, and on top of the sculptures to get at all their textures and small hiding places was instructive: Franconia, unlike traditional gallery spaces or museums, invites you to engage the work directly, to touch the pieces, to step right up and play with the art like a kid.
When you stop by, you're treated a bit like visiting family; the artists who live and work at Franconia (many of whom are there on two-year Jerome Foundation artist-in-residence fellowships) are likely milling around the park with you, happy to take a break in what they're doing to chat for a minute.
Most of the 75 or so pieces on view at the park rotate through after a couple of years of exhibition time, so there's usually something new to see. At the same time, pieces are around for a relatively long time; so, if you visit a couple of times a year, you'll see bunches of old favorites each time, too. It's such a pleasure to see the sculptures weather over time as they make their peace with the elements and earn a bit of patina.
I suppose my very favorite aspect of Franconia, though, is the ubiquitous evidence of human handiwork behind the grandeur and whimsy of the finished pieces - heavy equipment to haul and fabricate stuff, artists with tools and brushes touching up their pieces, people milling around the communal house. My son calls it an "art farm;" I think that captures the gist of Franconia's appeal beautifully.
You can find out more about Franconia Sculpture Park, its fall arts celebration and its sculpture-building workshops for kids here.
Have a favorite piece of art that belongs to Minnesota (i.e. public art, a cool building, or a piece of art that belongs to a Minnesota museum)? Let us know.
Malia Cole brings us our latest submission for "We Art Minnesota." Malia writes:
I have a long love affair with public art. As a day-dreamer of a kid, nothing was more amazing than coming upon a piece of magic just sitting there in front of me. No museum doors, entry fees, pretension, just art for me to interpret and adore. Out there for everyone, out there just for me.
As a working, 9 to 5 kind of adult, I have grown in my appreciation of public art. I understand the hard work and intention that make public art possible. And, now the art feeds a need in my life for beauty beyond my laptop and my excel spreadsheets.
My favorite piece (or many pieces) of art is the Everyday Poems for City Walk Project. Created by Saint Paul's Public Artist in Residence, Marcus Young and friends, Saint Paul Public Works, and Public Art Saint Paul, the project works in tandem with the City's sidewalk maintenance program and installs poetry where City sidewalks are replaced. In its first year, the project has the goal of one hundred stampings of twenty poems written by Saint Paul residents.
To find one of these poems on your Monday morning hike to the bus stop is a reminder to be human, a reminder that beauty is aways possible, everywhere. Sitting next to one of my favorite poems for the photo, a young girl comes out of her house to ask if I wrote it. I say no, I just love it. She then recites her favorite, on the spot, with a grin. She doesn't remember where she saw it, but it is now apart of her, moving through the world.
In case you can't make out the poem that Malia is sitting next to, here's a transcription:
I don't know enough
about balance to tell you
how to do it
I think though
it's in the trying
and the letting go
That the scales measuring
right and wrong quiver
and stand still.
Thanks, Malia, for the wonderful contribution! And for those of you interested in learning more about the sidewalk poetry project, you can find Chris Roberts' story here.
If you'd like to submit your favorite work of art that belongs to Minnesota, we'd love to hear from you.
Michael Croswell of St. Paul sent us this video submission for his favorite piece of Minnesota art. His nomination: the Midtown Greenway. Now already I know what you're thinking. "Midtown Greenway, "that's not art, that's a bike path!" But as you'll see in Michael's video, there's plenty of art to be found along the Greenway. Here's what he wrote to us:
My favorite example of public art that belongs to Minnesota is the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis. The Greenway is the most exciting and important public art that is happening in the Twin Cities right now! It is an interactive public space that merges art with visionary urban planning to create a beautiful inner city green zone that is used for leisure while providing an alternative method of inexpensive transportation for anyone who can ride a bicycle.
I love the Greenway because it is all about the art of living together as a community. I see businesses, organizations, and people working together in order to make the Midtown Greenway a successful model for the future. It provides a really smart vision of what the future of our Twin Cities could be. The Greenway is the perfect excuse to start parking the car in the garage and start experiencing the joy of pedal power!
Thanks Michael for your video! And for those of you interested in submitting your own favorite piece of Minnesota art, we welcome your submissions.
Welcome to the first installment of an occasional series here on State of the Arts we're calling "We Art Minnesota." We've been asking Minnesotans to share their favorite works of art that belong to the state, and why. People can submit images of themselves with their favorite work of art, or put together a short video if they like (preferably under a minute in length). It can be a piece of public art, something in a Minnesota museum, or even a building you think is particularly lovely. Use your imagination! Once we get enough submissions, we'll look at putting together a map of the state, covered with links to your favorite art. Voila - State of the Arts!
Today's submission comes from Ed Linder. Ed writes:
This piece of art is really close to me for lots of reasons. 1) it's located about a block from my house and 2) I helped get this piece of art created.
About 7 years ago the Rocket was part of the playground equipment located in Bracket Park. It was one of the last Rockets in the Minneapolis area. They were going to get rid of the Rocket to make way for new and improved playground equipment. My son Theo, at the time was 5 years old and was really up set that the Rocket was going to be destroyed. I thought if there was a way to save the rocket it would make a lot of kids and people in the community happy because of the wonderful memories the Rocket brought to them.
I looked in to what was being done and there was a local group doing just that, "saving the rocket." The group was called Brackett Rocket Boosters. I helped raise money to save the rocket and I was on the committee to help choose the artist who would make the rocket into a piece of art. That is my favorite art piece in Minnesota.
Interested in submitting your own video or photo of your favorite art in Minnesota? We'd love to hear from you.(2 Comments)