An effort to buy the stones that once made up Minneapolis' tallest--and, many say, finest--19th-century building continues to build steam.
and re-using the massive remnants of the legendary Metropolitan
Building is suddenly a cause celebre among preservationists. The
campaign promises partial redemption for the building's now-lamented
destruction a half-century ago, at the nadir of an urban renewal era
that devastated the city's most historic section.
blocks from the majestic 1890 structure sit in a huge pile in rural
Delano, where waiting to be crushed for road projects. "Most of them are
the size of a large car," says Jack Byers, Minneapolis planning
supervisor. He says stones with delicate carvings appear to have been
placed in the middle of the jetty-like pile, possibly to protect them
from the elements.
Byers is working with Preservation
Minnesota, Preserve Minneapolis, the Minnesota Historical Society, and
the Hennepin History Museum to find preservation funds, then a function,
for the pieces of architect E. Townsend Mix's masterpiece.
Phillips, creator of the "Bring the Metropolitan Back to Minneapolis
Facebook page, is eager to meet both challenges. He thinks the blocks
would make a great a downtown urban ruins park.
passionate fan of architecture, and Minneapolis architecture
specifically," says Phillips, whose family's Phillips Distilling Company
and Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation
are in historic buildings
in the Old St. Anthony district of Minneapolis. "I'm a sucker for a
great story and a good puzzle. This has both of those."
Jack Byers, City of Minneapolis; Dean Phillips, Phillips Distilling
Company and Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation