Pillsbury A Mill, Red Tile Elevator, 401 Main Street Southeast, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Red Tile Elevator

Red Tile Elevator
Address: 401 Main Street SE
Neighborhood/s: Marcy-Holmes, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Saint Anthony Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Saint Anthony Falls Historic District, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Historic Function: Grain elevator
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Tile
First Owner: Charles A. Pillsbury
Part of the Site: Pillsbury A Mill

Marcy-Holmes, Saint Anthony Falls, Saint Anthony Falls Historic District Minneapolis Hennepin

The Red Tile Elevator, initially known as the Pillsbury Mill “A” Elevator, was built circa 1910. The nearly 190-foot-tall structure consists of two parts. The lower portion is a block of 25 circular bins constructed of red hollow and solid radial clay tile that stand 100-feet in height. The 16 interstices between the bins were also used for grain storage.

A five-story steel-framed head house positioned above the bins is clad also with clay tile (HABS 1987 No. MN-29-5E).

The construction of this “fireproof” elevator that handled 400,000 bushels of grain circa 1910 initiated a period of expansion and improvement of the Pillsbury “A” Mill property after reorganization and incorporation of the company.

The facility replaced an elevator completed in 1884 on the property and significantly increased the storage capacity on site. The elevator is associated with the successful 1910 to 1920 period for the Pillsbury Flour Mills Company, a time when it expanded its product line to a “Family of Foods” and began to advertise more aggressively.


The Red Tile Elevator at the Pillsbury “A” Mill complex is a receiving elevator, the type of facility that received and stored grain at a processing facility. The use of clay tile for grain elevators was an important step forward from wood and steel construction because it was fireproof and rigid. This method of grain elevator construction was developed and patented by Ernest V. Johnson and James L. Record of the firm of Barnett & Record (builders of many of the Pillsbury “A” Mill complex buildings).

The Barnett & Record Company of Minneapolis began to construct tile elevators in 1900 after the new method was sufficiently tested (Frame 1989a:E.25). Robert Frame asserts that tile elevators advanced the development of a fireproof grain elevator and are rare enough that almost any example is significant.

The Pillsbury “A” Mill Red Tile Elevator, which has good integrity, is a significant example of this elevator type under Criterion C. The Red Tile Elevator was an important first component of the modernization project initiated in 1910 at the Pillsbury “A” Mill complex.

The elevator is a significant resource in the Pillsbury “A” Mill complex for its association with the modernization project and should be considered an important component of the Pillsbury “A” Mill complex.

Character-Defining Features

The character-defining features of the Red Tile Elevator include its overall form and massing that display the two components of the structure: the block of bins and head house. Other defining features are the exterior walls of red clay tile; the “Pillsbury’s Best Flour” sign located on the roof of the head house; and the grain conveyors that connect the head house to other buildings in the Pillsbury “A” Mill complex. The door and window openings in the head house of the elevator have been altered over time and are characterized by the irregular placement of the openings and the steel sash used in the windows.



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Saint Anthony Falls Historic District


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