Lunchtime tourist

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September 26, 2005 // UPDATED 1:58 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

Allied Warehouse/Theatre de la Jeune Lune

105 N. 1st St.

Architect Cass Gilbert, known for his many cottage-style homes in St. Paul designed only a few buildings in Minneapolis. One is so disguised it's unrecognizable (e-mail me if you know the building and you might win a prize!), and then there's this one -- the Allied Warehouse Building.

At the turn of the 20th century, the area near the Mississippi and Hennepin Avenue was a bustling center of commerce. And along with commerce went warehousing. Building after building stored clothing, produce, textiles, hardware and even farm machinery. The Warehouse District wasn't always funky offices, chic bars and loft conversions!

This half-block-long building was an existing series of warehouses. In 1906, in order to unify the buildings and create a more modern appearance, the owners hired Cass Gilbert to redesign the building's facade. Gothic, pointed arches unify the bays, and a center projection with a peaked roof breaks up the great expanse.

By the time he designed this building, Cass Gilbert had been in Minnesota for more than 30 years. He was born in Ohio in 1859, and at the age of 9, traveled up the Mississippi with his family to move to St. Paul. As a professional, he designed railroad depots for a New York firm, working in St. Paul for a time, and later designed the U.S. Custom House and the Gothicism-inspired Woolworth Building, then the tallest skyscraper in the world. His most famous buildings include the Minnesota State Capitol (1905) and U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. (1935). Gilbert died in Europe in 1934.

In Minneapolis, the cavernous Allied Warehouse sat vacant for years until a group of highly creative people saw its potential. Theatre de la Jeune Lune, an internationally celebrated theater company, was formed in France in 1978 by three people, including one Minneapolitan. In 1985, they moved here, and in the 1990s began looking for a permanent home. In 1992, the theater moved into their newly renovated home with vast flexible space and movable seating to accommodate a variety of performance options. This spring, the company received a coveted Tony Award for best regional theater.

LUNCH TIP: Don't forget to save room for green tea ice cream after lunch at Origami, kitty-corner from this building.

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