Lunchtime tourist

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May 16, 2005 // UPDATED 1:54 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

The Minneapolis Club
729 2nd Ave. S.

In 1883, when the Minneapolis Club was founded, our young city had a population of 47,000 but was gaining an international reputation for milling. At this time, a social club called "Silver Grays" moved into a new space in the Syndicate Block on 6th Street & Nicollet Avenue and changed its name to The Minneapolis Club. Early members included Gov. John Pillsbury, former Minneapolis Mayor A.C. Rand, Park Board President Charles Loring, streetcar developer Thomas Lowry and miller John Crosby. As a purely social club, members met mostly in the evening to play cards and smoke cigars.

After occupying a number of sites over the years, the club moved into its current building in 1908. Naturally, a club like this would keep good records. In a 1909 report, building costs included land acquisition for $60,000, $11,000 in architects' fees, $213,000 in building construction and $26,000 for interior furnishings by legendary Minnesota designer John Bradstreet.

The collegiate, gothic, ivy-covered building was originally designed by local architects Hewitt and Brown. The firm built many Downtown landmarks from 1904 and 1930, including Cathedral Church of St. Mark (519 Oak Grove St.), Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church (511 Groveland Ave.), Washburn-Crosby Building (628 S. 2nd St.), Architect and Engineers Building (1200 2nd Ave. S.), Qwest Building (224 S. 5th St.) and Hewitt's own residence (126 E. Franklin Ave.).

The Minneapolis Club has had two sensitive additions over the years. Crenellations on top look like a castle, and dormers poking out of the roofline are reminiscent of servant's quarters. The brick building is accented with stained-glass windows and plenty of limestone details. It's like a little piece of Oxford transplanted Downtown.

The exclusive club didn't admit women as members until they invited Muriel Humphrey to join in 1978. But don't get your hopes up too high about joining - the club accepts new members by invitation only.

LUNCH TIP: Admire the building from across the street at another Downtown institution -- Peter's Grill (114 S. 8th St.).

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