Lee Brothers Studio, 2546 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Lee Brothers Studio

Lee Brothers Studio in 1937
Address: 2546 Portland Avenue S
Neighborhood/s: Phillips, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Phillips West, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1901
Historic Function: House/single dwelling or duplex
Historic Function: Photography Studio
Other Historic Function: Photography Studio
Current Function: House/single dwelling or duplex
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Brick

Phillips, Phillips West Minneapolis Hennepin

Lee Brothers Studio, 2546 Portland Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.955715° N, 93.268103° WLatitude: 44°57′20.574″N
Longitude: 93°16′5.171″W

The Lee Brothers were prominent Minnesota photographers from the 1880s through the 1940s. From 1919 until 1927, Peder Lee operated the Lee Bros. studios in St. Paul, but Peder moved to Austin in 1927. This building was purchased by Thorwald Lee in 1937. Thorwald had a studio in downtown Minneapolis until that time, but he ran the Lee Bros. photography studio from this large house on Portland Ave. until the 1945 when he died. His widow Martha Bell Lee owned the studio and their daughter Orrell Lee Harrington (Mrs. Raymond)managed the studio until it was sold in the early 1960s.

The following description of Thorwald Lee and his business is taken from a 1923 publication: “Thorwald Lee, enjoying a wide reputation as a photographer of superior skill and artistic merit, is the proprietor of Lee Brothers Studios. He was born in Norway and received his educational training in that country. He afterward devoted six years to sailing along the coast of Norway and passed through many interesting experiences and ofttimes many hardships in connection with his seafaring life. The opportunities of the new world led him to come to the United States when 22 years of age and he at once made his way to Minneapolis. For a year he worked at railroading, being engaged to in the construction of a line from Barnesville to Ada, Minnesota, in 1887. The following year he took up photography and on the 5th of February, 1889, opened a studio of his own at No. 221 Nicollet avenue under the name of Lee Brothers, he and his brother composing the partnership. They dissolved their business connection in 1919, the brother taking the St. Paul studio, while Thorwald Lee remained as owner of the Minneapolis establishment, which he still conducts, however, under the name of Lee Brothers. He is widely known as the most skilled photographer and his is the oldest studio in the city and one of the most noted in the Northwest. He does all kinds of photographic work but specializes in portrait work, both in his studio and in homes” (p. 772).

The Lee Brothers made a generous contribution to the Minnesota Historical Society in conjunction with the opening of a new Historical Society building in 1917. The Lee Brothers contacted many important Minnesotans, encouraging them to come to the Lee Bros. studio for a formal portait. The Lees then asked the subjects to write an autobiographical sketch to accompany the portrait. These portraits formed a core element of the Minnesota Historical Society's photography collection.


Memories and stories

Photo Gallery

Related Links

Here are some photographs by the Lee Brothers
Here is some additional information about the Lee Brothers
Here is a link to another Lee Brothers studio


History of Minneapolis: Gateway to the Northwest (1923). Minneapolis: S.J. Clark Publishing.

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