Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Foshay Tower party
Back in the 1980s, I worked at the Foshay Tower as a security guard. I was in college and often pulled the late shift, 11 p.m.-7 a.m. I remember sneaking into the wood-paneled penthouse suite once occupied by Wilbur Foshay, the businessman who built the obelisk skyscraper in 1929. Although I was the only one in the building at the time, I felt like I had to keep the lights off because I wasn't supposed to be in there. Still, it was a heady feeling, knowing this was the place ol' Wilbur smoked cigars and worried about his future as the stock market tumbled and he lost his fortune. (At least how that's I imagined it.)

On Friday, August 22, I'll have a chance to return to the Foshay Tower. The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota is sponsoring "The Foshay Soiree: A Roaring 20’s Restoration" to celebrate the restoration of the Foshay, which reopens as a W Hotel on July 28. The party starts at 6:30 p.m. and costs $50 per person for Alliance members and $60 for nonmembers. You can register beginning July 1 at the Preservation Alliance website.

(Photo of the tower by Bobak Ha'eri. Photo of the elevator doors by Jim Winstead, Jr. Both courtesy of the Foshay Tower's Wikipedia entry.)


Anonymous said...

Bravo for the Preservation Alliance...why not have a fund raiser at the Foshay? But I also hope that
they will have tours for the public just for a day or two for free...
having the observation deck open for a fee is not good enough.

This building is unique, not another
one like it anywhere and before the IDS was built it was THE landmark building in Minneapolis and tons of
articles were written about it.

Of course all will offer praise at
the Foshay's conversion to a W. A
good thing? Maybe. Maybe not.

There are tales that will not be told such as the millionaires refusal to retrofit the steel butterfly casement windows...most
were replaced with awful aluminum...

and then there is the heroic tale
of certain folks who had tax credit
money who said "NO!" to the plans
for a modern glass and steel nightclub that was to be added to
the second floor pedestal and said
"NO!" to the plans for HUGE illuminated W's on the top of the
tower and who ordered the restoration of the original art deco plaster ceilings in the lobby
when they intended to demolish it

That Wilbur Foshay's office was saved was pure luck of one rich
guy seeing all the mahogancy, terazzo and glass as ambiance
for a fancy bar...and perhaps
Wilbur's is still around as

Then there are renderings which appear to show a tack 60s-70s pink
ala pepto bismol decor...whilst the
interior remains of the splendid
art deco Forum cafe which was
also designed by Magney and Tussler
also IN 1929...were in the interior
of the now closed Goodfellows restaurant in City Center.

How magnificient those interiors
would have looked in the Foshay
instead of tacky pink.

But such tales will never be told
except by A.Non!

Todd Melby said...

Hello, Anonymous. I'd be interested in learning more details about these alleged oversights. Can you provide them in another post? Also -- and this is a question for other historic preservationists who might be reading this -- aren't there legitimate differences of opinion on some of these issues. Certainly it can't be as black-and-white as Anonymous suggests. Or is it?