The day after exploring the western part of the Loring Park neighborhood, I was back for the eastern part, which is to say, everything east of LaSalle Avenue. However, as the route map reveals, I also included some streets in the northwest that I had skipped the previous day. (The two days’ routes repeatedly cross in this area.)
This day’s route began on 12th Street South at Yale Place. That’s the A on the map that isn’t superimposed with a B. From there, I initially headed southwest on 12th Street. The block from Yale Place to LaSalle is marked in purple on the map to indicate that I would walk it a second time later, returning to Yale Place once I completed the circuit from LaSalle back to LaSalle.
Continuing on 12th Street, as I crossed Nicollet Mall I passed the north side of Westminster Presbyterian Church. This original portion of the building dates from 1897, though there have been repeated additions all the way up to 2018. A brochure from the church shows more of the spaces and their history than I could. And I’ll show a photo of the 2018 wing later in the walk, when I visit the other three sides of the property.
At 2nd Avenue South, the LaSalle-to-LaSalle loop shown in blue on the route map turns off from 12th Street. But before taking that turn, I needed to continue onward down 12th Street, walking another purple connector to a subsidiary loop starting and ending at 3rd Avenue. Only after completing this loop would I backtrack over the purple block to 2nd Avenue.
This little subsidiary loop (consisting of 3rd and 4th Avenues together with the intervening blocks of 12th and 16th Streets) encircles the Central Lutheran Church property. The main church building dates from 1928 and a new addition was constructed in 2018. As I walked from one to the other on 12th Street, I was interested to see the contrast between the doorways—and yet also the commonality. The 1928 portion has rectangular doors set within nested gothic arches, using the intervening space for ornamental tracery. The modern portion, in contrast, sets its doors within a purely rectangular grid—yet the nested gothic arches are still there, framing the window panes within the doors. Once I turned the corner onto 4th Avenue, I could zoom out and see the combination of new and old at the whole-building level.
The first of the route’s forward-and-back spurs (shown in red) extends from 4th Avenue over the MN-65 freeway on the 15th Street bridge. This avenue doesn’t continue to the west side of 4th Avenue for the reason shown in the following photo: there’s a parking ramp there. This ramp, shared between the church and the municipal convention center, interested me for the style of its pillars and especially of the metal slats which form an ornamental design through their angled paths. It reminds me a bit of moderne style, though it is far more recent. Is the moderne age long enough ago that we can have a moderne revival or neo-moderne style?
Speaking of metal slats intersecting in interesting ways, there’s a stunning “basket-woven” sculpture by Janet Lofquist just south of there, where 3rd Avenue crosses I-94. This Beacon is part of a plaza she designed to commemorate former mayor Sharon Sayles Belton. The plaza’s rim is inscribed with several of the though-provoking questions the mayor was known for: “Where does our pride spring from? What gifts will we bestow on our children and our children’s children? What are the values and virtues that we will honor? What legacy will we leave?” I acknowledge with gratitude Ms. Lofquist’s permission to photograph her work.
Once I returned to the intersection of 12th Street and 2nd Avenue, I was ready to turn south. This avenue runs between the 1920 Architects and Engineers Building and the convention center. You’ll have to zoom in on the Architects and Engineers Building photo to see one of its more interesting features. Below the upper arcade of narrow windows, you’ll see a second arcade of paired windows with each pair set in a broader arch. Zoom in on the spaces within those broader arches above the paired windows. You’ll see the names of specific historical architects and engineers.
Because 2nd Avenue curves in front of the convention center, it runs straight into Grant Street. On the southeast corner with 1st Avenue, Substance Church is now using the building constructed in 1891 for the Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church (later the Wesley United Methodist Church). For now, I contented myself with admiring the decorative stonework close up. Only later did I get a sufficiently distant vantage point to appreciate the overall massing of the building.
A block later, I turned south from Grant Street onto Nicollet Avenue. Two highlights of the 1400 block are the Music Box Theatre on the east side (a 1920 historic landmark) and the Nicollet Diner on the northwest corner with 15th Street, where I had a second breakfast almost as retro as the blue vinyl upholstery. (I did accept the addition of Cholula hot sauce.)
After continuing south on Nicollet to the mid-point of I-94 (where the neighborhood ends), I turned east on 16th Street to 3rd Avenue, then turned back west, veering off onto 15th Street once that became possible. The back side of the convention center was kind of interesting for me as a geek—all the loading docks and whatnot—but I’ll spare you that and instead show the adjacent fire station.
If you’re following the route map, you’ll see that there are some more red spurs on 1st Avenue. But I was more interested in what happened to the west of there. The block of 15th Street between 1st Avenue and Nicollet is oddly bifurcated with a southern roadway used for the traffic in both directions and a separate northern roadway dedicated to running in front of a couple apartment buildings. In between these two roadways is a substantial parking area.
The route map only includes the southern roadway, but I took an unscheduled detour onto the northern one so that I could photograph one of the apartment buildings, Cromwell Commons, a rather striking building dating from 1892. Current property records show it as containing 11 efficiency units and 7 one-bedroom units, yet in 1961, it apparently had twice as many dwelling units—12 on each of the 3 floors. They must really have been crammed in. The photo also includes a bit of the 1911 building to the right, the Stradford Flats.
Many of the older apartment buildings contained basement-level stores, but only a few of these are still in use. I saw an example as I turned from 15th Street onto LaSalle Avenue.
From LaSalle, I turned east on 14th Street, crossing Nicollet Avenue with a slight jog and then reaching the tee intersection at 1st Avenue. To the north of 14th Street, the space between LaSalle and Nicollet Avenues is occupied by the Nicollet Towers complex, which despite its name includes low-rise components as well as two high-rise towers. The photo shows part of the low-rise area together with the western tower, a 20-story building from 1984. The 12-story eastern tower, built in 1979, is out of the field of view. The 306-unit complex was rehabilitated between 2010 and 2012.
At 1st Avenue, I turned north, getting a full view of the historic Wesley church (albeit from the rear) before crossing Grant Street onto Marquette Avenue.
Across Marquette from Westminster Presbyterian, the Tallmadge Building shows an interesting history. You can see that it started life as a pair of closely coordinated but separate buildings with their main entrances oriented in two perpendicular directions. The building permits for both the Marquette-facing and the Grant-facing portions were issued to the same person, Erick Lund, in the same year, 1891. The Grant-facing part would have fronted on 13th Street, since vacated on this side of Marquette. On the other side, the one block leading to Nicollet Mall remains, though it has been renamed Alice Rainville Place. I turned that way.
Alice Rainville Place runs along the southern (or southwestern) side of Westminster Presbyterian, which is where the 2018 addition is located. As you can see, architect James Dayton chose to make a clean stylistic break from the 1897 original, unlike the intervening additions, which were intended to blend in. Because my Less Pedestrian Half is a congregant at Westminster, I’ve spent quite a bit of time inside this addition as well as outside, and I can say I’m a great fan of what Dayton did. Beyond providing additional space for directly church-related functions, the new wing houses the Harman Center for Child and Family Well-Being.
My main route turned south on Nicollet Mall, back toward Grant Street. First, though I had a one-block northward spur up the Mall to 12th Street. This gave me a good view of the Loring Greenway entrance, complete with its pyramidal fountain.
Across Nicollet Mall from the Greenway entrance, the Westminster Plaza is highlighted by Paul Granlund’s The Birth of Freedom. Knowing that Granlund designed his works to be equally interesting from all sides, I decided to walk around the sculpture and photograph it facing from the church toward the Mall and Greenway. The associated text is Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” I gratefully acknowledge permission for this photo from the sculptor’s widow, Edna Granlund.
From Nicollet Mall, I took Grant Street one block to LaSalle Avenue, then LaSalle one block to 12th Street—right back where I had started my first loop at a point marked both A and B on the map. All I needed to do was retreat over the purple block of 12th Street to Yale Place and I was finally ready to do the “main” part of the route—the part leading from the the initial A to the final B a block away. Thankfully it was shorter than the preceding digressions.
Heading northwest on 12th Street, I crossed Harmon Place, Hennepin Avenue, and Hawthorne Avenue before venturing out half way across I-394 on both 12th Street and Linden Avenue. Then I retreated as far as Hennepin Avenue, where I turned southwest—the only direction that stays within the neighborhood. At the end of the 1200 block of Hennepin, I ducked into Eli’s Food and Cocktails for some lunch. (Eli’s is in The Bellevue, an 1892 building on the corner with 13th Street.) Eli’s has a lived-in, old-school vibe that made me expect meat and potatoes, so I was pleasantly surprised to get a rich, flavorful bowl of chilled asparagus and avocado soup served with nicely grilled pita. The soup was vegan, getting its creaminess from the avocado.
Continuing southwest on Hennepin, I passed three of the main buildings of the Minneapolis Community and Technical College, including the Wheelock Whitney Hall, shown here. This glass curtain-wall library was built in 2002.
After returning from a short spur under I-94, I turned north on 17th Street North, which took me alongside the Basilica of St. Mary, begun in 1907 and dedicated in 1926. Although described as being in the beaux arts style, it stands apart from the other beaux arts structures in Minneapolis by borrowing more from baroque as opposed to renaissance antecedents.
After looping around the rest of the basilica campus (the rectory and the school), I crossed back over Hennepin from Laurel Avenue West to Spruce Place, re-entering the Minneapolis Community and Technical College campus. Rather than only seeing the modern buildings constructed for college use, I took particular interest in the H. Alden Smith House, an 1887 Richardsonian romanesque design by William Channing Whitney, now used for the Wells Family College Center. It stands south of Spruce Place where Harmon Place must once have continued.
Before turning up Harmon Place to my end point on 12th Street, I took one last look back toward Hennepin Avenue and was glad I did. The college’s T Building (short for Technical) makes a much more striking image from this direction, albeit less readily identifiable without the signage that faces Hennepin.
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