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

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Flour City Ornamental Iron Works

ca 1920
Address: 2637 27th Avenue S
Neighborhood/s: Seward, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
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 then moved twice more before building 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.



Its work was considered artisic, and graced many buildings with intricate metal work, and even included bronze castings. 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. Then 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.

The lovely, old brick structure, now called the Ivy Building, houses the Vine Arts Center. This current reuse comes only after a long, difficult transitional period which included neighborhood protest over Flour City's increase in toxic emissions in the 1980s, caused by the process of baking 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.

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. Inside the building, some of the metal craft is still visible in the stair railing, etc. In 2007 the Midtown Greenway bicycle and pedestrian path opened along the railroad (see the historical photograph) running next to the Flour City building. 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, in which two bystanders were killed and twenty-eight injured when Minneapolis police fired into a crowd that had gathered to support the striking workers. 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

Flour City International, Inc.

Northwest Architectural Archives: Flour City Ornamental Iron Works Company Records


    • Flour City Ornamental Iron Co., A Minneapolis Institution: Greatest of Its Kind in America. Commercial West, February 9, 1929.
    • National Register of Historic Places Inventory: Nomination Form. 1984.
    • Flour City: May Be Historic Also. Lee, Betty. The Longfellow Messenger, October, 1985, p. 20.
    • Earthwatch: Flour City leaves Seward. Cashman, Leo. Southside Pride, December, 1991, p. 2.
    • Flour City Ornamental Works once employed 1200 workers: Time, strike led to company's demise. Wold, James T. Southside Pride, February, 1996, p. 14.
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    [http://discussions.mnhs.org/HP/oneonone.cfm snubnosed]