Burma Shave, 2019 East Lake Street, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Burma Shave

Church of rhe Vine
Save the Shave event 2016
Address: 2019 Lake Street E
Neighborhood/s: Corcoran, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1892
Year razed: 2017
Additions: 1911, 1916, 1919, 1922
Historic Function: Religious/Place of worship
Historic Function: Business
Builder: George Adams, James Leck

Corcoran Minneapolis Hennepin

  • 1892-1911 Church of the Vine
  • 1911-1916 Hugnad Hall, a meeting place for the International Scandinavian Workers Association
  • 1916-1925 Nell Wingert bonnet, apron and knicker Manufacturing Company
  • 1925-1940 Burma-Vita then Burma Shave



    It was 135 years ago, February 6th,1882, that a small group met at a farm home at East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue South to charter Vine Congregational Church. Funds were raised including lumber donated by Second Congregational Church, and a church was built on 21st Avenue just south of Lake Street. That church building survived until January 19th, 2017. Along the way it was home to not only the Vine Church and Hugnad Assn., but it also gave birth to two nationally known companies, Winget Mfg.,and Burma Shave.

    In 1925, the building was purchased by the Marquette Trust Company and the primary tenant of the building became the Burma-Vita Company. The Burma-Vita Company was a liniment (pain relief lotion) manufacturing company organized by Clinton Odell and George Hamley, who are listed in city directories as the manufacturing chemists.

    In 1925, the company first developed their Burma Shave product, a brushless shaving cream. In early 1926, Clinton Odell and George Hamley applied for a patent to trademark Burma Shave; this patent was registered in 1927.

    The Burma Shave product did not sell well until the owner’s son, Allan Odell, convinced his father to promote the product with an advertising campaign that consisted of a series of six signs spaced along the right side of the road. These signs ultimately became very popular once they incorporated rhyming jingles that were catchy and memorable to drivers.

    The first of the Burma Shave signs were put up in the fall of 1925 on Highway 61 and Highway 65 from Minneapolis to Red Wing and Albert Lea. The original signs were more straightforward with typical advertising, and did not rhyme until 1927, when the trademark rhyming jingle signs were first developed and installed. By 1937, over 7,000 sets of the signs were located along highways throughout the country. The advertising campaign was extremely successful and the company grossed over 3 million dollars per year at its height. In 1933, signs also began to display public safety messages, particularly regarding safe driving, in the typical rhyming jingle form.

    In 1940, the Burma-Vita Company moved into new headquarters the company had built at 2318 Chestnut Avenue. After World War II, with such as increased speeds on the national interstate highway system, the signs became less effective. Regulations restricting billboards on highways were also developed around this time. The company also struggled to successfully advertise through the newly emerging form of television ads. In 1963 the company was purchased by Phillip Morris Inc. and the Burma Shave signs were discontinued in 1964.[1]

    In 2015, Minneapolis Public Schools selected the site for a new building. In 2015 Steve Sandberg and Shari Albers founded an organization to "Save the Shave." They testified at public hearings, gathered signatures for a petition and held rallies. On February 7, 2017, the Burma Shave building was demolished.

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