Music Education Building, 147 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Music Education Building

Address: 147 Pillsbury Drive SE
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1888
Year razed: 2009
Primary Style: Richardsonian Romanesque
Historic Function: College/university
Architect or source of design: Warren Hayes
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Sandstone
First Owner: YMCA
Part of the Site: {{{site_name}}}

Minneapolis Hennepin County

Music Education Building, 147 Pillsbury Drive SE, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.9779592° N, 93.2366235° WLatitude: 44°58′40.653″N
Longitude: 93°14′11.845″W
National Register of Historic Places Information


The Music Education Building was one of the first five buildings of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. It is located on Pillsbury Drive SE in the historic Knoll area of campus and is part of the Old Campus Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was completed in 1888 and was one of four buildings on the campus that was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Since there were limited funds available from the state legislature at the time, the 6,800-square-foot Music Education building was funded with private donations.

Architectural Elements

There are several features of the Richardsonian Romanesque style throughout the exterior of the Music Education Building, including the low Syrian arch on the first floor, the semi-circular windows in the northern gable, the turret, and the hand-carved stone façade on the western side. The eastern section was made of brick, as if there was a planned addition that would incorporate the sandstone materials of the rest of the building, but the addition never happened.


Throughout its history, the Music Education Building housed various departments, as well as non-university residents. The Student Christian Association, which was a nondemoninational camp organization, was the group which built the Music Education building in 1888. They built it to offer reading rooms, assembly rooms, game rooms, and offices. It leased the building to the YMCA from 1889 to 1911, and in 1911 the University of Minnesota acquired it. The University continued to rent it to the YMCA until 1914, when the YMCA moved out after a argument with the Board of Regents over religious issues. After the YMCA moved out, University President Vincent presented the building to the Music Department as a Christmas present in 1914-15. Then in 1926 the Child Welfare Department occupied the building, and in 1947 the renovations for the Music Education Department began. This renovation included the construction of the staircase on the south elevation. It was after the Music Department moved in that the building was renamed the Music Education building, and the music department stayed there until 1996. After the Music Department left, the building was leased to its final tenant, which was the famous inventor Otto Schmitt, who lived there until 1997 when the building was vacated and put into a maintenance lay-away state. After the Music Department moved out of the building in 1996, the University struggled to find a new use for the building. Since it was too small for the typical uses of campus buildings, the University tried to think of other possible uses. The ideas for the building included making it into housing for university visitors or alumni, a student government or commuter center, a think tank or a small professional building, or turn it back into a non-denominational spiritual center. They even flirted with the idea of turning it into condos.


Since 1997 the Music Education was in a lay-away state due to multiple fire and life safety code deficiencies, and it also was inaccessible to the handicapped. University of Minnesota spent $350,000 to maintain the building while it consulted with the Minnesota Historic Preservation office in developing required preservation research and reuse analyses. It also completed multiple adaptive use studies and condition analysis reports on the building in hopes of finding a new use for the Music Education Building. University officials offered the Music Education Building for only $1, but estimated that it needed between $2-3 million in repairs, including repairing the roof, removing asbestos, and bringing the building up to code. There were several interested parties but no takers, and the size of the building was deemed to be the main challenge in reusing it. Also since it is a state-owned, National Historic Building, any new tenant would have had to follow the preservation guidelines when they renovated. The demolition of the Music Education Building was estimated to cost $432,000. It began in October 2009 and the site was completely restored by May 2010. Since the site is so small, the University’s Master Plan has delegated it to become simply green space. While the University salvaged any decorative elements and sandstone facing, there is nothing left on the current site that references the former Music Education Building.


Badaracco, Luisa. "Historic U of M Building Up for Lease." : UMNews : University of Minnesota. University of Minnesota, 14 Jan. 2008. Web. 29 Oct. 2012. <>. Hunter, Steve, Dallas Bohnsack, Clyde Allen, Anthony Baraga, Venora Hung, and Dean Johnson. University of Minnesota Board of Regents. Rep. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2009. Print. "Music Education - University of Minnesota Old Campus Historic District." Groundspeak, Inc, 2012. Web. 29 Oct. 2012. <>. Steller, Chris. "After College Try, U of M Tearing down 1888 Music Education Building." TheLineMedia. The Line Media, 30 June 2010. Web. 29 Oct. 2012. <>.

Walton, Krista. "University of Minnesota Wants to Offload 1886 Hall." Preservation Magazine, 28 Jan. 2008. Web. 29 Oct. 2012. <>.


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