Cream of Wheat Building, 730 Stinson Blvd, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Cream of Wheat Building

Address: 730 Stinson Boulevard
Neighborhood/s: Mid- City Industrial, Minneapolis, Minnesota
City/locality-
State/province
Minneapolis, Minnesota
County-
State/province:
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1928
Year razed: 2005
Primary Style: Art Deco/Art Moderne
Historic Function: Manufacturing facility
Current Function: Apartments/condominiums
Architect or source of design: Walter H. Wheeler
Builder: C.F. Haglin & Sons
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Stone

Mid- City Industrial Minneapolis Hennepin


The Cream of Wheat Company exemplifies the 19th century’s booming agricultural economy in the Midwest. Minneapolis was a regional powerhouse at the time in the grain-milling industry and the Cream of Wheat Company went on to become a top notch competitor in the hot cereal market. Featuring a classic 1920s design that seamlessly incorporates office and factory uses, the building is further enhanced by its setback from Stinson Boulevard and the landscaped yards that surround it on three sides. The Cream of Wheat Building was designed by engineer Walter H. Wheeler and the general contractor was C.F. Haglin & Sons. Cream of Wheat hired a prominent Minneapolis interior decorating firm, William

A. French and Company, to furnish and decorate the executive offices. The building was constructed in 1928 and is in Art Modern style. In 1961, the company was purchased by the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). The building was renovated into luxury loft apartments from 2005-2007. It is now known as the CW lofts.

Contents

History

The Cream of Wheat Building is located on 730 Stinson Boulevard in Northeast Minneapolis. Its west edge is surrounded by other industrial buildings as well as a large parking lot. The building is four stories high and made of brick. The building is in rectangular form with a 125-foot tower on the southeast corner In addition to making the building a landmark, the tower holds a water tank for a gravity-fed sprinkler system. Four penthouses, ranging in height from one to one-and-one-half stories, are located on the roof. Two sit on the south edge, are clad in brick, and are original to the building. The other two, built in the 1980s, are located on the west and north sides of the roof and are of concrete block painted a bright off-white.

The east facade, the building’s formal front, has an elaborate entrance porch at the base of the tower. The porch is one story in height and has a flat roof. Like the building, the porch’s structure is reinforced concrete. Granite stairs lead from the ground to the granite porch floor, which is level with the first floor of the building. Rusticated Mankato stone covers the staircase walls and the exterior and interior walls of the porch. The porch entrance is a large segmental arch. Two window openings, one each in the north and south walls, allow light and air into the space.

The interior of the building remains largely untouched, although virtually all of the furnishings and manufacturing equipment have been removed. The majority of the interior is open with mushroom-capital columns spaced twenty feet apart. These open spaces have sealed concrete floors and painted concrete columns, walls, and ceilings. The original paint scheme was light green lower walls and white upper walls, ceilings, and columns. Now all painted surfaces are white, although some columns have red and yellow bands.

Over time, new concrete-block and temporary partition walls were added to the basement, second, and fourth floors. The basement holds the original boilers; the rest of the space is open, except for a concrete-block vault that was added to the southeast corner at some point.The first floor was open and held machinery. The third floor is open and once held machinery. The fourth floor was divided into five bays: the machine shop, the cooking room, the sterilizing room, the print paper storage room, and the printing department.

The Cream of Wheat Building’s style is classified as Art Moderne because its classic 1920s design shares common characteristics such as: Geometric Massing, Flat Roof, Smooth Walls, Sleek and streamlined classical design with buff-colored brick walls and spandrel panels, trimmed with Mankato and artificial stone

General History

The history of Cream of Wheat cereal began in 1893 when the head miller at a small flour mill in Grand Forks, North Dakota, presented to his employers the idea of marketing wheat middlings as a cooked breakfast cereal. Diamond Milling’s owners initially disliked the idea, but the miller, Thomas Amidon, convinced them of the cereal’s potential value. Caught in an economic depression, the owners took a chance that the milling byproduct could provide additional income for the company. Before sending the product to brokers in New York City, they developed a name and package for the cereal. The brother of one of the owners came up with “Cream of Wheat”; the cereal was made from the best part of the wheat berry and had a creamy consistency when cooked.

The cereal was an immediate success. The day that the initial ten cases arrived in New York, the brokers wired Grand Forks requesting fifty more cases. Diamond Milling soon shifted operations from flour milling to cereal production and changed its name. In 1895, the Cream of Wheat Company moved to Minneapolis to take advantage of lower shipping rates and have access to a steady supply of raw materials. The company occupied various buildings in the downtown area before settling in 1903 in a new building designed by Harry Wild Jones on the southwest corner of Fifth Street and First Avenue North.

The product’s popularity was fostered by innovative advertising campaigns, which were spearheaded by Emery Mapes. Mapes kept the Cream of Wheat name continuously in the American consumer’s mind by placing advertisements in nationally distributed women’s magazines. In the late 1890s, he photographed an African American waiter in Chicago and used the man’s face in subsequent advertising art. The image of a smiling chef presenting a bowl of steaming cereal became the company’s icon. There has been controversy over Rastus, the Cream of Wheat mascot/icon who is shown as a smiling African-American man serving the cereal is depicted as childlike and uneducated. An online petition was sent to the CEO to remove the icon for its racial undertones , although unsuccessful.

Completed in the spring of 1928, the majority of the building was used for manufacturing the cereal, following a vertical process. Raw material entered the building through the south train shed on the first floor, was loaded into a receiving hopper, and was lifted by bucket elevator to a fifth-floor penthouse. The grain then flowed down from floor to floor through processing and packing machinery. Individual packages were consolidated into cases and moved by gravity conveyors to outbound railroad cars in the north train shed. Local shipments were loaded onto trucks at a dock on the building’s west side.

Designation Criteria


ELIGIBLE FOR DESIGNATION AS A LOCAL LANDMARK

The designation study for the Cream of Wheat Building (November 2004) shows that the property meets designation criteria (1) and (4) as follows: (1) The property is associated with significant events or with periods that exemplify broad patterns of cultural, political, economic or social history

--The Cream of Wheat Company Building exemplifies the businesses spawned in the late nineteenth century by the region’s flourishing agricultural economy. Drawn to Minneapolis by its dominance in the grain-milling industry, the fledging company grew to become a major player in the hot cereal market.

(4) The property embodies the distinctive characteristics of an architectural or engineering type or style, or method of construction.

--The Cream of Wheat headquarters at 730 Stinson Boulevard is a symbol of the company’s success. The building is a classic 1920s design that incorporates the office and factory uses and is marked by a prominent tower. It is a noteworthy design by the distinguished Minneapolis engineer, Walter H. Wheeler

Reuse, Recycle, Renovate

Between 2005 and 2007 the historic Cream of Wheat Building was converted into residential condominium units. Units range from live-work lofts to chic two level homes. Historic railroad tracks accent many units while others feature private terraces. Underground heated parking, 800sq. ft. shared terrace, exercise room, conference center, art gallery, and other amenities. These residential units are now available for purchase.

Memories and stories

Photo Gallery

Image:Bahussein--Cowpl.png‎ Image:Bahussein--Cow1928.jpg‎ Image:Bahussein--cowwes.jpg Image:Bahussein--Cwloft1.jpg Image:Bahussein--Cwloft2.jpg Image:Bahussein--creamofwheattracklayout.jpg Image:Bahussein--NSEW room walls.jpg Image:Bahussein--Cow black and white picture description.jpg Image:Bahussein--Cow interior b&w.jpg


Related Links

Notes

http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/hpc/landmarks/hpc_landmarks_stinson_pkwy_730_cream_of_wheat_building

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups/public/@council/documents/webcontent/convert_264298.pdf

http://blogs.mprnews.org/state-of-the-arts/2011/07/minnesota-architecture-cream-of-wheat-hq/

http://www.urbanminneapolishomes.com/cw-lofts-for-sale.php

Other:

C. F. Haglin Company Papers. Northwest Architectural Archives. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

McEnary Krafft Birch & Kilgore Papers. Northwest Architectural Archives. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

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