Placeography:Featured place/2017-06

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Minnesota Linseed Oil Company, 1101 South Third Street, Minneapolis Minnesota

The Minnesota Linseed Oil Company was officially incorporated in September 1870 by Robert Hale of Chicago, J. K. Sidle, Davic C. Bell, H. G. Sidle, Godfrey Scheitlin, Maurice Auerbach, and William S. King. In June of that year, the first mill was destroyed by fire. The company planned a new plant near Washington Avenue South and Eleventh Street. The company also built a 30-by-44-foot, 50-foot-tall flax seed elevator the following year. Around 1878, company managers Benton and Ramsey decided to use linseed oil to manufacture house paint. This venture led to the incorporation of the Minnesota Linseed Oil Paint Company, in 1889. By 1899 the twenty-five-year-old linseed oil company's production levels had outgrown its facilities. A new office and manufacturing buildings were planned for Eleventh Avenue and South Third Street. The five story headquarters building was designed by architects Franklin and Louis Long and built by Pike and Cook. It was completed in 1905. Other buildings on the site included a boiler room and engine house, production facilities for linseed oil crushing, boiling and solid linseed oil cake pressing and storage silos for the flaxseed and linseed oil. In 1912 a three story addition to the five story headquarters was designed by Lowell Lamoureaux. By the early twentieth century, the Minnesota Linseed Oil Company was the largest manufacturer of linseed oil in the state. As such, the company played a major role in making Minneapolis the Northwest market and distribution center for the linseed oil industry and according to two contemporary sources, the world leader in the output of linseed oil and its by-products, which were shipped throughout North and South America, Europe, and Australia. When C. Angus Wurtele, son of Valentine Wurtele, became company president in 1965, he felt that the company's business model was outdated. He recognized that the paint industry was consolidating rapidly and that the outlook was not good for medium-sized regional paint companies like Minnesota Paints. A company had to sell 3 to 4 million gallons of paint per year to stay competitive, and Minnesota Paint's volume was 2.5 million gallons. Wurtele examined options to sell the company, acquire another company, or merge. In July 1970, Minnesota Paints merged with the Valspar Corporation, a company based in Rockford, Illinois.

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