On top of the Art-A-Whirl excitement, Northeast was also host to several sites for Doors Open Minneapolis, a kind of citywide “open house” that took place May 18-19. It was the first time the City and AIA Minneapolis organized such an event. Northeaster reporters talk about the buildings they covered.
Police K9 Unit Kennel
The Minneapolis Police Canine Unit was formally established in 1970, with eight officer-dog teams. They trained at the former Navy base near Fort Snelling. The unit later moved to its present training grounds and kennel at 37th Ave. NE, near St. Anthony Blvd. There are currently 16 teams, including dogs that are narcotics- and explosive-detection certified. The breeds are German and Dutch Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and bloodhounds. Dogs are purchased through a U.S. broker, from breeders in Belgium, Netherlands, and the Czech Republic; the average cost is around $9,500. The expenses of the unit are partially offset by Minneapolis Police Canine Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps support buying canines and equipment and helps educate the community about police canine work.
The dogs go through a 12-week training period, and have a service life of 8-10 years. When they retire, they continue to live with their human partners.
On May 18, Canine Unit Head Sergeant John Sheneman and his K9 Bear, a black German shepherd, demonstrated detection techniques for visitors. Canine officer Yvonne Edwards let her K9 Leo (whose name stands for “law enforcement officer”) be admired by the young people that surrounded him for most of the day.
Minneapolis Police Department Public Information Officer John Elder said more than 2,000 people came to see the demonstrations on the Doors Open weekend.
— Mark Peterson
Firefighters’ Hall & Museum
According to Firefighters’ Hall & Museum director and former fireman James Sandberg, after Fire Captain Bill Daniels retired, he and his wife “did pretty well in the stock market.” A gift from their estate established the museum on 22nd Ave NE in 2004, and volunteers and donations have kept it going as a small but densely-packed storehouse of fire apparatus, uniforms, photographs and historical records of the city’s firefighting past. Its library, available for research, contains literature going back to the 1860’s.
Small and large fire trucks fill the building’s 12,000 square feet, and the walls are covered with badges, helmets, firefighting tools, and photos of notable local fires. The museum is “child-friendly” and youngsters can climb aboard the engines and slide down a brass fire pole. In warmer months, rides around the neighborhood on some of the antique fire trucks are available.
Sandberg estimated that more than 300 people visited the museum on Saturday and Sunday. Asked if the poor weather helped or hurt, he said, “We do pretty well on rainy days, because everything’s inside.”
The museum is open on Saturdays only, but the main hall is available for event rental.
— Mark Peterson
Kramarczuk’s Sausage Company
Orest Kramarczuk’s parents Wasyl and Anna left their native Ukraine after World War II, and settled in Northeast Minneapolis. They worked at a local meat market on Marshall Street, and in 1954 opened Kramarczuk’s Sausage Company on Marshall Street, moving to its East Hennepin in location in 1967. Wasyl made the sausage and Anna baked the bread and pastries, and the store became a neighborhood attraction for its Eastern European specialties. In 1977, the family bought the jewelry shop next door, and a few years later the restaurant was born. The restaurant was remodeled in 2010, and the deli a year later.
If you went to Kramarczuk’s on Doors Open weekend, you would have likely found Orest near the front windows telling a group of visitors the story of his family’s business. He estimated that he gave his talk more than 30 times during those two days, to more than 600 people. He and his son Nick are co-owners of the 65-year-old institution, which received a 2015 James Beard award as one of the “Top One Hundred restaurants” in the U.S. The restaurant sponsors musical events, and for the past few years, Third Ward City Council members have held morning informational meetings there.
Orest pointed to the enormous faux-mosaic mural, nicknamed “Lady Liberty,” that dominates the restaurant’s west wall. Painted by Ukrainian artist Valintine Moroz, the 1987 work shows the Statue of Liberty over New York Harbor, surrounded by boats flying the flags of many countries. Orest said the painting symbolized what his family wanted to do: “Welcome people from everywhere to this country and our restaurant.”
— Mark Peterson
The Ritz Theater has been around since 1926, but it continues to bring the community inside to witness theater, and to be a staple of the frequented 13th avenue in Northeast Minneapolis. The doors were closed for some time in the 1980s. The Sheridan neighborhood contributed Neighborhood Revitalization Program money so the theater could open again.
Technical Director Bethany Reinfeld was building the set for Theater Latté Da at the Ritz while Doors Open was taking place over all of Minneapolis. The doors remained open, even while Reinfeld and the building crew constructed a set on stage to be ready for the upcoming production, “To Let Go and Fall,” which has a world premiere on May 29 and runs until the end of June.
“This set is going to have a pool onstage, so we’re all really excited for this,” said Reinfeld. “We spend about a month and a half building the set off site, and then we spend about two weeks in the technical process to get everything show-ready.” Reinfeld has a masters of fine art in technical direction, and has previously won awards for unique staging. “I give a lot of credit to Maruti Evans, our scenic designer.” Theater Latté Da presents five musicals a year, and six shows a week during season.
— Nik Linde
Miller Textile Building
For almost a century, the Miller Textile Building was the headquarters of producing bags for Miller Bag. The company made grass-catcher bags for lawn mowers and burlap bags for potatoes. Miller Bag left the building in 2013.
Now, it is a mixed-use home to various businesses right off of Hennepin, including HeadFlyer Brewery, Five-Watt Coffee and Northland Visions, a Native American fine art and gift shop. Store manager Greg Belanger was excited about being a part of Doors Open Minneapolis. “We moved in here February of last year, and we’re very pleased with this new location inside the Miller Textile building,” said Belanger. “We’ve also incorporated and sourced a lot of original materials from this building into our location. These factory lights, some of these refurbished windows, and even original carts to display our products, one of which is from the old Arden Hills Army Ammunition Plant.”
— Nik Linde
Brant Kingman’s Studio
In a little known part of the long building behind 77 NE 13th Avenue is Brant Kingman’s studio quarters. A sign above the entry refers to that part of the former Grain Belt complex as the Case Beer Warehouse.
A visitor remarked that the place looked familiar from her college days when students would wander through on adventures. Many years ago Kingman himself became a legend at a previous location, the Sinclair Depot site. Until recently, the studio was on Thomas Avenue North, and before that, above Gardner Hardware.
His art: Sculpture, in metal and more recently found objects. His nationally-renowned career now involves teaching art for students of all ages. He has a system of tension bands that adults can work against to draw or paint, releasing them from the inhibitions in their minds. They now have an excuse for their work being less than what they’d want to see, which gets them over a barrier. Kingman said funny hats or costumes have almost the same effect, because a person can become someone else while doing art.
— Margo Ashmore
The A-Mill underground
For just a moment, the lights beneath the A-Mill went down while we huddled around a thick window built into the floor. With the glare the overhead lights cast on the glass out of the way, illumination welled up from beneath, giving everyone a rare glimpse into the turbine shafts that once powered the milling industry that built Minneapolis.
The basement of the A-Mill has never been open to the public before, according to Dan Rooney, a tour guide from the Mill City Museum and MN Historical Society who presided over the showing. He explained that this section of the mill fell into disuse sometime in the 50’s, long before the mill was shut down in 2003. In its time though, the power equipment of the mill was some of the biggest of its kind.
The room we were standing in did not exist before; everything down there would have been underwater as the current of the Mississippi poured through a tunnel built from St. Anthony Falls under Main Street to feed the turbines. The water split into two streams about at the point where the tour was standing, and then dropped down into the turbines.
Through the glassed off sections, you can see new staircases and lighting leading into the tunnel system, but none of it is accessible yet. According to Rooney, the infrastructure for tours is installed, but the city is working on figuring out safety protocols before allowing access.
“We’re very excited for the time when we’re able to get you down there,” said Rooney.
One turbine system is still active, and provides power to the current residents of the A-Mill, but that was not a part of the Doors Open tour.
— Alex Schlee
The Food Building
The two-story Food building, 1401 Marshall St. NE, home to Red Table Meat Co., Baker’s Field Flour & Bread, and Alemar Cheese Co. was originally constructed as the Dick Veterinary Clinic (1909-1922), which took care of horses for the Minneapolis Brewing Company and other industrial businesses in the area who were dependent on them to transport their goods. Dr. John Siegbert Dick purchased the land in 1907 for $5,000. He was the only veterinarian in Northeast Minneapolis until 1913 when his son, John Dick Jr., joined the practice. As automobiles began to replace horses for industrial transport starting in the 1920s, the need for a veterinary clinic declined and the space transitioned into an automobile garage.
2010 East Hennepin
2010 East Hennepin is a complex of 14 buildings on over 6 acres. The mostly brick and industrial buildings are connected by a series of tunnels as well as Minnesota’s first skyway. From 1930 to 1965, 2010 East Hennepin was home to the General Mills research laboratories. According to their website, it is speculated that Cheerios, Wheaties and Kix were all invented within the enormous complex. “Today, the walls and floors are still painted Wheaties orange and Cheerios yellow, but artists and artisans who build everything from kiln-fired glassware to violins have replaced the cereal scientists.”
— Liz Jensen
Below: A family took a “cruise” on an old firetruck at the Firefighters Museum during Doors Open Minneapolis. (Photo by Mark Peterson) Northland Visions in the Miller Textile Building. (Photo by Nik Linde) At right, the outdoor oasis surrounded by the building now known as the 2010 ArtBlok. (Photo by Liz Jensen)