Monday, September 03, 2007

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.


Anonymous said...

Jacobson Fuel is really an incredible survivor...I've seen it
for years covered in wood siding
painted pink and oft graffitied
and thought it looked like a stable
perhaps from the 1870s or before...

No suprise Bob Roscoe's eagle eye
spotted this one...too bad they
could not have left it...there
are so so so many walls of condos
round Lyndale and Lake...Jacobson's
Fuel would at least have remained
a unique historic presence there...

But at least some of it will survive in seems old industrial buildings with interesting or average features
are vanishing...

Marvel Rack on 2nd street North in
Minneapolis,which was something
before it was Marvel Rack is being
cleaned out of it's intriguing old has an ancient 2nd street
No. sign handpainted over the door
with a posting that says "This building is not for sale or rent" will be sold soon and
since it's close to the 212 lofts,
it may also vanish and become a loft...

Directly across the street is the
Commutator Foundry building, wonderful old advert signs, spectacular stone carvings....a real crumbling wreck at the back where a large furnace probably was...supposedly owned by J.River
an internet company...could use a
little restoration...

Then there's the incredible collection of old industrial buildings at 30th ave SE and Malcolm called "Harris Machinery"
once a railcar factory for many
years a salvage dealer, the buildings....incredible...neglected
and for sale...will be a loss if
they are demolished...

All in the name of building miles
and miles of condos which all look

Bob will know MD author of this post!

Mark said...

I'd been wondering about this building. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

By the way who...managed to
get the Jacobson Fuel building or at the facade moved to Hastings? It could just as easily been hastily demolished before many of us could have seen's just

Another incredible survivor is a little house on 8th and Park Ave
in the Elliot Park neighborhood
in painted
yellow...Steve Brandt wrote
an article about it in the Strib
several years ago...It's between
some crumbling redstone apartments
one of the last deteriorating
redstones in EP and a Wells Fargo drive in...two Irish sisters...laundresses lived there
well into their 90s...gosh only
knows how old the little house really is... it's not a great mansion, but it's a great

...just up the street at 9th and Park Mike Lazaretti is beautifully restoring
a couple of redstones designed by
architect William Channing Whitney
all in the shadow of the monolithically glass and steel Skyscape condos....progress I's just too much of it!

UNIFORM Studio said...

I've always loved this building....