Lunchtime Tourist

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May 2, 2005 // UPDATED 1:54 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

Hall & Dann Barrel Factory (Mill Place)
111 3rd Ave. S.

We may think of Downtown Minneapolis as a high-tech, fast paced, cutting-edge metropolitan city, but at the turn of the 19th century, this was a pioneer town. Dirt streets, horse and buggy transportation, and factory smoke filled the growing metropolis. Lumber mills scattered up and down the river cut our state's old-growth forests into boards using waterpower generated by St. Anthony Falls. In the late 1880s, Minneapolis was the country's leading manufacturer of lumber.

Among lumber's many uses, cooperages formed thin strips of wood into barrels. Hall & Dann Barrel Factory was the largest manufacturer of wooden flour barrels in the country! Their success was due to the close proximity of supplies, along with many nearby mills needing barrels to ship flour. As packing technology evolved, the firm also made flour sacks and bags.

Hall & Dann Barrel Factory was built in 1880. After the business folded, it became a warehouse for several decades before being converted into Mill Place in 1985. This project was way ahead of its time and the first renovation in a string that continues today with loft conversions. Mill Place is actually two buildings joined by an atrium. Arvid Ellness Architects, who also worked on Butler Square's transformation, designed it. This renovation won a Minnesota engineering award for its ability to transform an old building into a new use, while keeping its historic character. Ironically, the building's first tenant was General Mills - whose origins were a few doors downstream at the Washburn Crosby Mill, now the Mill City Museum.

LUNCH TIP: Step inside another architectural renovation for lunch today at Dunn Bros in the Milwaukee Road freight house (201 3rd Ave. S.)

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