Thursday, June 26, 2008

Teeners: An endangered building?
The June 20 edition of Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal reports that a developer might knock down the former Skyway Theater, and surrounding buildings, in downtown Minneapolis. United Properties wants to buy the Skyway (now Barfly), Teeners, Shinders and the vacant building that once housed Chevys Fresh Mex.

For the deal to happen, United Properties "would need to gain control of surrounding land," wrote Sam Black in the Business Journal.

That might happen.

Two months ago, Ben Graves of Graves Hotels Resorts sat down for a meal with Mayor R.T. Rybak. According to the news report, the mayor says he wants to see the block developed.

But wait!

What about Teeners?

It's fantastic!

For the past year, I've been walking by the building or looking at it from the bus, thinking "I've got to do a story on that. It's empty. It's lovely. What's going to happen to it?"

And now this.

In his AIA Guide to the Twin Cities, critic Larry Millet wrote about the Girard (Teener) Building, 727-29 Hennepin Avenue, designed by Magney and Tusler in 1922.

"A sliver of a buidling, faced in terra-cotta and one of the last of its kind downtown. Many original downtown lots were only 20 feet wide, leading to clumps of narrow buildings that once formed highly varied streetscapes. It's anyone's guess how long this little gem will survive."
Here's hoping Millet ain't prescient.


Anonymous said...

This relentless push for development
must be feeding someone's money vacant buildings do not...but ultimately it's more destructive to the quality, diversity and character of our urban streetscape than we realise....

Consider block E and City Center on sixth and Hennepin...uninspired, heavy stuctures, with restaurants,
arriving and leaving, a vacant Barnes and Noble and lots of emptiness and crime...

It's a given that the former Skyway
theater is the same sort of structure, but it's surprising that
Bar Fly seems to have survived while it's clubby neighbors on 1st
ave north and the lumber exchange vanish almost as soon as they are open...

But besides the unexceptional architecture of Bar Fly and the
former Shinders, There is the practical elegance of the Mitchell
building with its rich dark red
bricks, then is the taller Witts
Markethouse which was a busy and
efficient grocery store and in recent memory a music store with an amazing exterior sculpture of Jimmy
Hendrix, John Lennon, and Janis Joplin...and...I think there was
a fourth...

I've admired the former Teeners building for years and always hoped
to see the Building Restoration Corporation Trucks there, cleaning
and polishing the small aquamarine tiles, the delft blue and white flower cartouches, the delicate columns topped with coppery orbs,
replace the missing terra cotta bricks at the top and even replace
what appears to be a missing clock
with something art deco and fanciful...

This graceful building was one of many theaters on Hennepin...only it was a movie theater which showed silent films at first, then newreels...

These historic cinema buff websites
give some of the names of the theater...Pix,Time,Esquire...etc

And the Minnesota Historical Society's Visual Resources Database
has a photo of the building when it
was the Time newsreel theater at 729 Hennepin negative #43716 right
next to the Kin Chu chinese restaurant!

And then it was Teener's theatrical
supply and costume shop for so many
years 30? so appropriate for the theater district...the costumes, glitter, makeup, magic and illusions.

If only Welsh and Alvin Zelickson could find a new owner that would keep the block intact, restore the lovely, unique former Teeners, instead of demolishing and replacing it all with more unoriginal ugly concrete that would open with tremendous buzz and be abandoned within 5 years and leave nothing historic buildings full of character and possiblity if only resources were
devoted to them!!!

Anonymous said...

--a vacant Borders bookstore!!!
Sorry B&N

Todd Melby said...

Thanks for the background on Teeners and all the other wonderful details. I'll check out the websites that you mentioned but right now I'm in New Orleans enjoying the fabulous architecture here and a few Jack Daniels. Or is it a few Jack Daniels and the fabulous architecture?