Rubbing out history: One small building at a time
Jacobson Fuel and Transfer
West 29th Street near Lyndale Avenue South
By Bob Roscoe
In the late 19th century pre-petro economy of Minneapolis, small wood-framed buildings such as Jacobson Fuel and Transfer Company served small business and residential enclaves with the most basic of human needs to serve this emerging metropolis: Fuel to provide warmth and operate steam-driven machinery as well as hauling heavy materials and business goods by horse-drawn wagons throughout the city.
The revitalization around the Lyndale-Lake area and its accompanying sprouting of new condominium structures is stretching into this area’s back streets. The long-vacant Jacobson building, located on West 29th Street just west of Lyndale Avenue South, will soon make way for new development.
Recently, developers applied to the city inspections department for a demolition permit for the Jacobson Fuel and Transfer Company, began the demo process while they were waiting for approval. As workers began to strip off the outer layers of added cladding, they revealed the building’s original faded black siding with big and bold painted super-graphic-like sign lettering on the front façade. On the east side, multi-colored layers of painted advertising signs have faded and peeled into a Jackson Pollock-like unintended work of art.
City processes agreed to demolition, after acknowledging a missed opportunity to record Jacobson Fuel and Transfer as a potential historic resource. Instead, it will become part of building development of a different sort – its façade will join a line-up in a recreated yester-year village near Hastings, as historic preservation becomes imperfect history. (Photos by Bob Roscoe)
Bob Roscoe is owner of Design for Preservation and is involved in Preserve Minneapolis, a local historic preservation group.
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