Flour City Ornamental Iron Works, 2637 27th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Flour City Ornamental Iron Works

ca 1920
2009
Address: 2637 27th Avenue S
Neighborhood/s: Seward, Minneapolis, Minnesota
City/locality-
State/province
Minneapolis, Minnesota
County-
State/province:
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1902
Primary Style: Classical Revival
Additions: 1905 Extension, 1907 Foundry Addition, ca 1908 Machine & Fitting Shop, 1910 Fitting Shop, 1912 Warehouse (razed), 1913 Pattern Shop, 1929 Punch Press Shop
Historic Function: Manufacturing facility
Current Function: Arts center
Architect or source of design: Kees and Colburn
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick

Seward Minneapolis Hennepin County

Flour City Ornamental Iron Works, 2637 27th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.9549082° N, 93.2330304° WLatitude: 44°57′17.67″N
Longitude: 93°13′58.909″W
)


Flour City Ornamental Iron Works began as a blacksmith shop and foundry in 1893, located at 506 4th Avenue South. It was started by Eugene Tetzlaff (1865-1939), a German immigrant metalwork artisan. Tetzlaff then moved the company twice more before building on five acres at 27th Avenue South and East 26th Street in Seward. Here it operated for ninety years, from 1901 to 1991, when it moved its last operations to its headquarters in Tennessee. The block-long row of five yellow brick buildings fronting 27th Avenue is unified by a facade featuring a pedimented parapet with a series of pilasters. The building was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Contents

History

Flour City's work was considered artistic, and graced many buildings with intricate iron work, large pieces such as cage elevators and spiral staircases, and even work in bronze and other metals. The impressive list of local and national buildings with installations by Flour City artisans includes:

  • Minnesota State Capitol Building
  • Cathedral of Saint Paul, Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Catholic Church of the Resurrection, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Christ Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Foshay Tower, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Minneapolis Athletic Club
  • Northwestern Bell Telephone Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Dayton's Department Store, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Young-Quinlan Building, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • University of Minnesota, Coffman Memorial Union & Chemical Engineering Building
  • Saint Paul and Minneapolis United States Post Offices
  • Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • City Hall, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Busch Mausoleum, Saint Louis, Missouri
  • Bell Telephone Building, Akron, Ohio
  • Insurance Exchange Building, Chicago, Illinois

The company also did significant work for the U.S. Defense Department during World War I, World War II and the Korean War. In later years it had a business in aluminum boats.

As the original owners sold off their interest in the business, the company began making metal frame sheet or curtain walls for skyscrapers such as Minneapolis' IDS Tower. A long, difficult transition period then ensued for Flour City's historic building which included vocal neighborhood protest over the factory's increase in toxic emissions in the 1980s, pollution caused by the process of baking paint finishes onto metal for its curtainwall manufacturing. Around 250 jobs were lost in 1991 when the out-of-state company decided to move this production rather than install air scrubbers to eliminate health risks.

In 2009, the lovely, old brick structure now called the Ivy Building for the Arts, houses the Vine Arts Center and various other tenants. The historic 'Flour City Ornamental Iron Works' sign is still visible on the brick, somewhat hidden by a thick curtain of ivy vines. The old sign is best seen in winter after the leaves have fallen. At the entrance and inside the building some of the metal craft is still evident in the entry canopy, stair railing, etc. Before the company moved its final production lines to Tennessee, the building was still adorned with gothic touches of metal work, such as gargoyles, near the entrance. In 2007, the Midtown Greenway bicycle and pedestrian path opened along the railroad running next to the Flour City building (see historical photograph). Note that originally the Chicago, Milwaukee & Saint Paul Railway Yards were nearby and provided direct shipping access for the metal works plant.

Locally the Flour City site is infamous for the labor strike of September 1935, when on September 9th, 10th and 11th it became violent and 40 Minneapolis police officers were sent to the scene. Two bystanders were killed and twenty-eight injured when Minneapolis police fired into a crowd that had gathered to support the striking workers. On September 21st Tetzlaff of Flour City, as well as eight other iron work company owners, agreed to the Local 1313 union demands for a 40 hour work week, increase in wages, and other concessions. This strike, along with other strikes during this period of labor unrest during the Great Depression, propelled Minneapolis labor unions into a more powerful position.

Memories and stories

Photo Gallery

Related Links

1929 Flour City booklet

References

    • Author unknown, "Flour City Ornamental Iron Co., A Minneapolis Institution: Greatest of Its Kind in America," Commercial West, February 9, 1929.
    • Cashman, Leo, "Earthwatch: Flour City leaves Seward," Southside Pride, December 1991.
    • Lee, Betty, "Flour City: May Be Historic Also," The Longfellow Messenger, October 1985.
    • National Register of Historic Places Inventory: Nomination Form, 1984.
    • Wold, James T., "Flour City Ornamental Works once employed 1200 workers: Time, strike led to company's demise," Southside Pride, February 1996.
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