Minnesota Linseed Oil Company, 1101 South Third Street, Minneapolis Minnesota

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Minnesota Linseed Oil Company

Address: 1101 Third Street S
Neighborhood/s: Downtown East, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1870
Year Ended: 2017
Founded by: Godfrey Scheitlin
Historic Function: Industrial site
Current Function: Corporate campus

Downtown East Minneapolis Hennepin


Site History

The Minnesota Linseed Oil Company was officially incorporated in September 1870 by Robert Hale of Chicago, J. K. Sidle, David C. Bell, H. G. Sidle, Godfrey Scheitlin, Maurice Auerbach, and William S. King. In June of that year, the first mill was destroyed by fire. The company planned a new plant near Washington Avenue South and Eleventh Street. The company also planned to build a 30-by-44-foot, 50-foot-tall seed elevator the following year. The projected annual consumption of flaxseed to produce linseed oil and solid linseed cake would be 90,000 to 100,000 bushels.

Around 1878, company managers Benton and Ramsey decided to use linseed oil to manufacture house paint. This venture was so successful that it led to the incorporation of a separate venture, the Minnesota Linseed Oil Paint Company, in 1889. By 1899 the twenty-five-year-old linseed oil company’s production levels had outgrown its facilities. A new office and manufacturing buildings were planned for Eleventh Avenue and Third Street. The five story headquarters building was designed by architects Franklin and Louis Long and built by Pike and Cook. It was completed in 1905. Other buildings on the site included a boiler room and engine house, production facilities for linseed oil crushing, boiling and solid linseed oil cake pressing and storage silos for the flaxseed and oil.

In 1912 a three story addition to the five story headquarters was designed by Lowell Lamoureaux.

By the early twentieth century, the Minnesota Linseed Oil Company was the largest manufacturer of linseed oil in the state. As such, the company played a major role in making Minneapolis the Northwest’s “market and distributing center” for the linseed oil industry and, according to two contemporary sources, the world leader in the output of linseed oil and its by-products, which were shipped throughout North and South America, Europe, and Australia.

By the 1920s, linseed oil was Minneapolis’s fourth-largest industry. Minnesota led the country in flax seed production for eighteen of the twenty-nine years between 1921 and 1950, producing half of the nation’s crop in 1931 and more than one-third in 1948. The growing importance of paint to the company’s business, however, led to the formal adoption of the name Minnesota Paint in the following year.


When C. Angus Wurtele, son of Valentine Wurtele,became company president in 1965, he felt that the company’s business model was outdated. He recognized that the paint industry was “consolidating rapidly and that the outlook was not good for medium-sized regional paint companies like Minnesota Paints.” A company had to sell 3 to 4 million gallons of paint per year to stay competitive. Minnesota Paint’s volume hovered at 2.5 million gallons. Wurtele examined options to sell the company, acquire another company, or merge. In July 1970, Minnesota Paints merged with the Valspar Corporation, of Rockford, Illinois.


The Murals

Peter Busa was an American abstract painter, born in Pittsburgh in 1914, and later based in New York City and Provincetown, Mass. He studied with pioneering pop artist Stuart Davis, and like many artists of his generation, worked on Works Progress Administration murals in the 1930s. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was living in Minneapolis, and working as a studio art professor at the University of Minnesota. In the 1960s the construction of Interstate highway 35W required the demolition of several of the old Minnesota Linseed Oil plant buildings.

The close proximity of the buildings to the new highway inspired CEO Angus Wurtele to commission a large mural from Busa in 1973 to give the headquarters building dramatic visibility and showcase the company's paint. In homage to the buildings removed for the highway, Busa named the mural “Demolition.” In 1979 Busa returned to extend the mural with a greater variety of colors to the three story 1912 addition.

When the Metrodome stadium was being built in the 1980s Peter Busa created the mural “Sport" to give fans attending the games at the Metrodome "something interesting to look at." This mural was on the back of Valspar’s research and development lab. It was painted by paint contractor, Tom Martini. According to a 1982 Star Tribune article “Sport” used 1,100 square feet of wall and required 100 gallons of primer, 194 gallons of paint and 32 gallons of colorants to produce about 25 different colors.

Architects and Builders

Franklin B.Long
Louis L. Long
Lowell A. Lamoureax
Ernest Croft
Frances C. Boerner
Pike and Cook

Memories and stories

Photo Gallery

Related Links


NRHP photos



    Personal tools
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