Grain Belt Brewery, 1215, 1220 Marshall Street Northeast, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Grain Belt Brewery Complex

Grain Belt Brewery from Plymouth Avenue Bridge, ca. 1950
Address: 1215 Marshall Street NE
Neighborhood/s: Sheridan, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1891
Founded by: Frederick W. Wolff & William L. Lehle, architects
Historic Function: Industrial site

Sheridan Minneapolis Hennepin County

Grain Belt Brewery, 1215, 1220 Marshall Street Northeast, Minneapolis, Minnesota
(44.999577° N, 93.269323° WLatitude: 44°59′58.477″N
Longitude: 93°16′9.563″W
National Register of Historic Places Information
Reference Number: 90000988
Certification date: June 21, 1990
Level of significance: Local

In 1990, the Grain Belt Brewery Complex in Northeast Minneapolis was added to the National Register of Historic Places; National Register #90000988, listed 6/21/1990.

image: Jannifunk--GBB_Site_Plan_w_Dates.jpg


Site History

The Complex houses seven separate structures:

  • Brew House, 1891-92; Marshall Street and 13th Avenue Northeast
  • Power Station, 1891-92; courtyard
  • Wagon Shed, 1893 and Shops, 1913; Marshall Street
  • Office, 1893, addition 1910; Marshall Street and Broadway Street Northeast
  • Bottling House, 1906, addition 1969; Ramsey Street and 13th Avenue Northeast
  • Warehouse, 1906, additions 1949, 1957; Ramsey Street and 13th Avenue 13th Avenue Northeast
  • Additional Bottling House, razed 1929; Ramsey Street and Marshall Street
  • Railroad Spur, ca. 1895; Ramsey Street

Memories and stories


I remember first moving to Northeast and taking a walk, only to be struck by the scale and intrigue of these buildings. I will never forget the first time I saw them, I was amazed and full of questions instantly. -Janneke Schaap

Corporate History

Minneapolis Brewing Company

image: Jannifunk--Grain_Belt_watercolor.jpg

In 1890, Minneapolis' four largest breweries - John Orth Brewing Company, Heinrich Brewing Association, Frederick D. Norenberg Brewery, and Germania Brewing Association - merged to form the Minneapolis Brewing and Malting Company. The new endeavor operated for a time out of John Orth's facility, the largest of the four complexes.

In 1891, the current Grain Belt Brewery was constructed on the John Orth site in four distinctly different architectural styles. It officially became Minneapolis Brewing Company and opened operations in 1893. "Golden Grain Belt," became Minneapolis Brewing Company's trademark beer, its name a hybrid reference to "America's Grain Belt" (the wheat source) and the perfect brewing water of the Mississippi River. Grain Belt Premium and Grain Belt Select were added to the brand in the 1950s-60s.

During National Prohibition from 1920-1933, Golden Grain Belt and most other US beers were forced out of the United States market. Minneapolis Brewing Company continued to subsist in its facilities by selling near beer, malted drinks and soda under Golden Grain Juice Company. Minneapolis Brewing Company reentered the alcoholic beverage scene in the mid-thirties with the repeal of the law and survived ebbs and flows in the industry until the late nineteen-sixties.

image: Jannifunk--Brewery_Tower_1939.jpg‎

Grain Belt Breweries

In 1967, Minneapolis Brewing Company acquired Storz Brewing of Omaha, Nebraska and officially became Grain Belt Breweries, operating from the very same castle-like facilities in Northeast Minneapolis the company had occupied for decades. Product of the failed Hauenstein Brewery in New Ulm, MN was added to the line in 1969. By this time Grain Belt Breweries had become the 18th largest brewery in the United States in production volume and facility size.

Irwin Jacobs

In the mid nineteen-seventies, Grain Belt Breweries fell on hard times and sold to private investor Irwin Jacobs. Brewing operations ceased on the site once and for all in 1976. Jacobs had plans for the prime riverfront real estate, but Minneapolis officials repeatedly blocked his proposals to demolish the historic structures.

City of Minneapolis

The City of Minneapolis acquired the historic complex in 1987 principally to save it from demolition and disrepair. The Grain Belt brand was sold and produced in a variety of locations until August Schell Companies purchased it in 2002 and has been producing it in their facilities in New Ulm, MN ever since. An official "moving ceremony" was held on the grounds of historic Grain Belt complex in 2002. The structures had been vacant for 26 years.

RSP Architects

In 2000, Ryan Companies won and began construction on a proposal to convert the largest structure, the brewhouse, and adjoining boiler house into offices for RSP Architects. According to the City of Minneapolis the large undertaking was complete within 2 years. The project was partially public-funded, as Ryan Companies requested help from the city to mitigate environmental and public health hazards in the dilapidated structure.

Hennepin County

2002 saw the quiet sale of the outlier building along Broadway Street Northeast. Hennepin County now owns and operates Pierre Bottineau Public Library out of the renovated space.


The year 2004 saw the sale of two buildings along 13th Avenue, the former livery and a warehouse, to Artspace, a cooperative that rents studios to artists. Each building was required to be brought up to code and include updated facilities before habitation was permissible, though of each all the structures on the complex, these buildings required the least investment. The buildings now house many studios as well as a coffee shop and warehouse space. A third building on 13th Avenue was sold to a private investor and also turned into studios for artists. This multitude of artist space drew more artists to live in Northeast Minneapolis than ever and helped solidify the area as the Arts District.

To Be Determined..

One building on the complex remains to be sold - the freestanding Office, on Marshall Street. Various proposals floated through the city and several times one has actually been approved, but new information forced the process to start back at square one. In 2006, a private investor won a bid to convert the one hundred year old Office into contemporary offices for her company, but upon inspection city officials found the damage was much more extensive than they realized: among other items, the site has drainage issues, potential mold hazards and one corner of the foundation is physically below the water table. They pulled the original request for proposal and reduced the price to $1; an apparent winner was declared in May 2009, though as of October no construction has started.

image: Jannifunk--Office.jpg

Minneapolis Parks Board

Its prime riverfront location made the site desirable to many parties. Riverfront property was sold to Minneapolis Parks & Recreation for future use, perhaps working within the guidelines of previous and ongoing efforts by the city and stakeholders to revitalize the Mississippi Riverfront.


Transportation to and from the Brewery complex was a simple matter of using the accomplished Minneapolis Streetcar System until 1954. After that time, buses and personal automobiles provided transport to Minneapolis Brewing Company's employees.

Site Plan

Photo Gallery

Inside, original iron staircases wind up, down, and over. This walkway once led to a large brewing vat that sat in the corner.

image: Jannifunk--GBB_Stair.jpg image: Jannifunk--GBB_Bottling_House.gif‎


Minnesota Historical Society -

MN Preservation Planner, Spring 2004 -

Grain Belt Beer -

KnowledgeRush Encyclopedia "Twin City Rapid Transit" -

Brett McKean:

A History of Minneapolis, "Transportation" -

Star Tribune, "Last of Historic Buildings Sold for $1" -

An Overwhelming Question -

Pfister Associates -

City of Minneapolis -

Ryan Companies -

Flickr -

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