Published by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota “to preserve, protect, and promote Minnesota’s historic resources.”
January - February 2010
Beautiful from the Inside:
The Minnesota Editor’s Notes
Preservationist By Kelli Andre
Volume 13, Number 1
January - February 2010
Published bimonthly by the
Preservation Alliance of Minnesota
H ave you ever found yourself looking at
an historic building and wondering
“what’s the inside like?” Or seen an
416 Landmark Center As it turns out, the protection of historic
75 W. Fifth Street interesting house and wondered if the owners interiors is left to the discretion of local
Saint Paul, MN 55102-9775
would think you were crazy if you rang their governments. In New York City, their local
E-mail: email@example.com doorbell and asked for a tour? If you have, Landmarks Law allows for the designation
Website: www.mnpreservation.org you’re not alone. We all have an innate desire of interiors separate from exteriors. These
Board of Directors to learn more about things that intrigue us, spaces have to be "customarily open or
Claire Stokes, Saint Paul, Chair
especially things that we can’t see from the accessible to the public" or must be a space
Amy Douma, Minneapolis, Vice Chair
Donna Stevermer, CPA, Farmington, Treasurer right-of-way on the street! to which the "public is customarily invited.”
Todd Nelson, Saint Paul, Secretary Such spaces tend to be banks, theaters,
In this issue of The Minnesota Preservationist
Jeﬀ rey Allman, Rochester restaurants, oﬃce building lobbies, and civic
Timothy Griﬃn, Saint Paul we highlight people and companies who
or institutional buildings like museums and
Gar Hargens, Saint Paul make their living restoring historic interiors.
Ellen Herman, Minneapolis libraries. The City of Philadelphia recently
From reﬁnishing historic woodwork to
David Kelliher, Minneapolis passed a similar law allowing designation of
conserving iconic murals, we are proﬁling
Mary Alice Kopf, Minneapolis historic interiors, provided that the spaces
Renay Leone, Excelsior those who ensure the view on the inside is as
are open to the public as a part of normal
Ann Meyer, Farmington impressive as the exterior.
Ron Schirmer, Ph.D., Mankato business operations, or, that the space was
Robert Schmitz, Minneapolis The preservation of interiors is fodder originally designed to be open to the public.
Sarah Voigt, Lake Elmo
for debate among preservationists. What
Lyssa Washington, Minneapolis A bit closer to home, the City of Minneapolis
Mary Wingerd, Ph.D., Saint Paul constitutes an interior, and are interiors
does allow for the designation of interiors,
JeriLynn Young, Minneapolis protected by listing in the National Register
though it usually coincides with exterior
of Historic Places? Can an interior be
designation. An exception (there’s always an
Nina Archabal*, Saint Paul listed on its own? Or must an interior
Britta Bloomberg, Saint Paul
exception) is the former Forum Cafeteria/
listing coincide with an exterior listing?
Will Stark**, Minneapolis Scotties on Seventh/Goodfellows restaurant,
Are there local and/or national protections
Carolyn Sundquist**, Duluth which is an interior designation only. In
in place exclusively for historic interiors?
Honorary Director contrast, the City of Saint Paul does not
I recently posted these questions to the
Richard T. Murphy, Saint Paul designate interior spaces.
Forum Listserve, an online discussion forum
Staﬀ utilized by preservationists nationwide (the As New York’s and Philadelphia’s laws
Bonnie McDonald, Executive Director
Erin Hanaﬁn Berg, Field Representative listserve is a beneﬁt of being a National exemplify, the protection of historic interiors
Kelli Andre, Administrative Assistant Trust Forum member; learn more at http:// is often limited to public spaces and largely
Marvel Anderson, Volunteer Coordinator
www.preservationnation.org/forum/). The excludes private residences. Why? One
Editing Team responses I got were interesting; I even received of the beneﬁts of a public space is that it is
Kelli Andre, Editor
Daniel Abrahamson, Design
someone’s master’s thesis on this very topic! exactly that: public. They are easier
to monitor and it is easier to discover
Contributors to this Issue
Kelli Andre, Dan Abrahamson, Erin Hanaﬁn
Berg, Martina Foss, Dave Gunderson, Christine
Lick, Douglas Mack, Jerry Mathaison, Bonnie
McDonald, William Morgan, Dan Tarnoveanu,
On the Cover
T he impressive and dramatic interior of Minneapolis’ Municipal Building
*State Historic Preservation Oﬃcer
**Advisor to the National Trust
for Historic Preservation (a.k.a. Minneapolis City Hall), was restored to its original grandeur by the
The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota is a private, nonproﬁt,
501(c)3 organization dedicated to preserving, protecting,
Minneapolis-based ﬁrm of MacDonald and Mack Architects in 2003. The full story
and promoting Minnesota’s historic resources. The Alliance can be found beginning on page 10.
is a Statewide Partner of the National Trust for Historic
Preservation. Views expressed in the Minnesota Preservationist
do not necessarily reﬂect the position of the Alliance or its board Photo by Jerry Mathiason.
2 The Minnesota Preservationist
inappropriate changes. As one of the Forum inextricably bound together, or can one be
responses so aptly stated, access should be historically signiﬁcant without the other?
key to the designation of interiors. One
The preservation and protection of interiors
of the basic, driving principles of historic
raises more questions than it answers: What
preservation is to preserve our past for the
exactly constitutes an interior? Does an
beneﬁt of all people. It could be argued that
interior simply mean the physical form of
if the public, who is supposed to beneﬁt from
the room, the space inside its walls? Does an
preserved places, is not given equal access
interior include the furnishings? And without
to the space, it would seem unjustiﬁed to
furnishings, does the room possess the same
designate that space.
signiﬁcance (assuming that the furnishings
The other side of the equation is that private are of the same period of signiﬁcance as the
residences are often subject to the whims room)?
of passing styles, technology, and resident
The National Register of Historic Places has
needs. This makes it extremely diﬃcult to
remarkably little to say about interiors. No
ﬁnd an historic interior in its original state.
separate criteria exist for the designation of
The American value for private property
interiors as they are typically included with
rights makes it even harder to require a
exterior listing. In Minnesota, according
homeowner to maintain an interior in its
to the State Historic Preservation Oﬃce,
period of signiﬁcance, as the regulation
an interior has never been approached as
would not pass the public beneﬁt test.
distinct from an exterior, and there are no
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Little House is Minnesota interiors listed individually on
a thought-provoking case study on the the National Register of Historic Places.
signiﬁcance of residential interiors and As for the protection of signiﬁcant historic Also, if you have a preservation project
the need for protective preservation tools. interiors, anyone familiar with the National you’d love to show oﬀ, let me know. Many
The house once graced the shores of Lake Register sadly knows that listing does not of the articles in this issue were brought to
Minnetonka in Wayzata; when the owner guarantee the protection of a building or me by people who were proud of their work.
wanted to demolish the house in the early space. The Alliance’s Communications Committee
1970s, the rooms were systematically and I are always looking for magazine ideas
Although I realize I’ve posed more questions
dismantled and sold. The Metropolitan and we’re happy to feature the work of our
than I’ve answered, I felt the need to
Museum of Art in New York owns the living members.
address the more academic side of interior
room; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts owns
preservation. The articles that we feature
the hallway. The Little House exempliﬁes
in this issue beautifully highlight various Happy Reading!
Wright’s concept of "organic architecture,"
methods to preserve and restore interior
in which the building, setting, interior, and
elements, but the topic of protecting these
furnishings are inextricably related. Few
spaces warrants more discussion—far more
would argue that a Wright-designed house
then we can devote in this magazine. Feel Kelli Andre
is not signiﬁcant, yet one has to wonder if
free to delve into the topic on your own—and Editor
the living room, or even the hallway, retains
keep me posted—I’d love to hear what you
the signiﬁcance they are praised for without
existing in the context of the entire house
and its setting. Are interiors and exteriors
Production of this issue of The Minnesota Preservationist
was made possible through a generous grant from the
Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation
of Rochester, Minnesota
January - February 3
of Historic Buildings
By Dan Tarnoveanu, Renaissance
Art, Restoration & Architecture
H aving been born and raised in Europe, where history is told
through restored artwork, preserved old buildings and cities,
I developed a passion and fascination for historic preservation and
art conservation at a very young age. When I was six years old, my
parents, who are both doctors, asked me if I wanted to be a doctor;
my response was: “No. I want to be an architect.” Sure enough,
I received my master’s degree in architecture and another master’s
degree in art conservation. When I came to the United States, I
was troubled by the fact that many historic buildings were being
demolished, abandoned or improperly restored.
An accurate restoration of the original interior fabric of a historic
building is vital in preserving one’s history and culture. I believe
there is no real future without preserving our history and our
culture. Interior restoration involves architectural elements such as Capitol cafeteria after restoration.
decorative and ﬁgurative paintings, historic ornamental and historic
retaining, and preserving the form and detailing of those
ﬂat plaster, woodwork, and ﬂoors.
architectural materials and features that are important in deﬁning
Essential to interior preservation is the restoration of historic the historic character"1 of a historic property.
murals. Interior murals are paintings; however, unlike easel
Historical research includes written, visual, and oral resources. For
paintings, murals are an organic part of the building. Their “frame”
example, during the restoration of the murals in the Minnesota
is the architecture itself. Along with their intrinsic iconographic
State Capitol Cafeteria, three historic photographs were vital in
and historical values, murals help articulate the architectural
knowing its original look in 1907.
elements and spaces.
Physical investigation includes: surface
Historic murals have two categories: (1)
investigation; non-destructive testing;
Murals that were executed directly on the
“There is no real future without destructive testing; and laboratory
walls and ceilings; and (2) Murals that
were executed on a canvas support in the preserving our history and our culture” analysis. Surface investigation (or “surface
mapping”) consists of detailed visual
artist studio, and then mounted in places
observation of interior architectural
especially designated for them by the
features. Non-destructive methods involve researching beneath
designer of the building.
surfaces by using X-rays, infra-red photography, and/or boroscopes.
Polychrome ornamental plaster is another popular historic interior Destructive testing (a.k.a. “architectural archeology”) is performed
decoration, which was executed with lime putty or gypsum and by hollowing out a surface of the historic fabric, similar to an
painted with oil or tempera colors, and often gilded. A good archeological dig. This method is extremely useful when the original
example is the ornamental plaster work at the American Swedish surface of the interior walls and ceilings received multiple layers of
Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. paint, stucco and/or wallpaper. Architectural archeology testing
was employed extensively during the restoration of the Minnesota
The Process State Capitol Cafeteria and Wanda Gag House. Laboratory
Architectural investigation is the vital ﬁrst step in planning an analysis is used mostly in historic paint and mortar analysis as it
accurate restoration treatment for interiors. Historic research, establishes the stratigraphy and chronology of all superimposed
physical investigation, and documentation is crucial for "identifying,
4 The Minnesota Preservationist
layers. These tests are crucial in ﬁnding and Minnesota State Capitol Cafeteria, Saint elements, and painting and gilding the
matching colors, ﬁnishes, and designs. Paul, Minnesota2 restored architectural features.
Built in 1907, the Capitol Cafeteria has
Documentation, prepared in conjunction La Maison de L’Enfant: Conservatory, Lake
vaulted ceilings, walls, and arches that
with physical investigation, includes of the Isles, Minnesota
contain decorative murals that are a
photographs, written descriptions, sketches, Built in 1917, La Maison de L'Enfant
wonderful representation of the harmony
and measured drawings. Its scope is to record is a classic Georgian Revival mansion.
between interior decoration and architecture.
the results of investigations and diagnostics; Overlooking the garden, the Conservatory is
Over the years, the Cafeteria murals suﬀered
and to establish the appropriate treatment one of the most ornate spaces of the house and
numerous alterations; 22 layers of paint were
for murals, decorative plasterwork and other its walls are decorated with 43 Renaissance
discovered, covering the original murals
interior architectural elements. style decorative and ﬁgurative murals. The
on walls and ceilings. The restoration,
completed in 1999, was comprised of two murals are oil on linen canvas and attached
phases: to the walls in spaces especially created for
Restoration treatment has two types of
them. Stained mahogany wood moldings
interventions: Physical and Artistic. These Phase I (1998): Physical examination, design separate the mural panels. The room and
are commonly used on interior architectural recovery, and documentation the murals were damaged during a ﬁre in
features such as: murals, decorative
2003; one mural was completely destroyed.
paintings, polychrome ornamental plaster, Phase II (1999): Restoration and Replication
The entire restoration was completed by June
and polychrome or painted woodwork. of the Original Decorative Murals
Photo courtesy of Don Wong.
Physical Interventions: A. Restoration: Seven original mural
Wanda Gag House, New Ulm, Minnesota4
• Consolidation of support (plaster, wood, sections, dating back to 1907, were restored.
Built in 1893, the Wanda Gag House is
canvas, or other materials) To diﬀerentiate these sections from the
a two-and-a-half-story Queen Anne style
• Consolidation of the paint layers replicated areas, the original murals are
home. This house, a national historic site,
• Cleaning, and when necessary, removal of recessed about a quarter of an inch.
was the childhood home of Wanda Gag,
the older or newer layers of over paint
B. Replication: The remaining sections of author and illustrator of Millions of Cats, a
• Filling holes, cracks, and large missing
the walls (where the plaster substrate was in time-honored classic of children's literature.
areas of the support
• Repair/replication of deteriorated or poor condition) were replicated.
The original interior decoration is quite
missing architectural elements The American Swedish Institute, unique. The vibrant murals—hand
• Varnishing Minneapolis, Minnesota 3 painted decorative motifs and architectural
Built in 1908 and designed in "Chateauesque" ﬁnishes—were painted by Anton Gag
style, the Tumblad Mansion, now the (Wanda's father), an accomplished artist,
• Reintegration of the image by inpainting
American Swedish Institute, is one of the decorator, and photographer. They were
(touching up) the missing areas
most important historic buildings in the created by overlaying several opaque and
• Replication of ﬁgurative and decorative
Twin Cities. Its ornate interior is adorned transparent layers of casein paint on primed
paintings, and other polychrome surfaces
with woodcarvings, painted and gilded plaster. During the restoration of the house,
• Samples of interior restoration
ornamental plaster, stenciled and hand- the interior decoration was restored and the
The following are several projects that painted decorative ﬂoral motifs on ceilings missing areas were replicated. The project
exemplify the diﬀerent types of interventions and walls. The restoration, completed was completed in March 2006.
necessary for interior restoration. All projects in 1996, consisted of reconstructing and
were completed by my company, Renaissance recasting of damaged ornamental plaster
Art, Restoration & Architecture.
January - February 5
Jackson County Courthouse Courtroom main mural after restoration.
Jackson County Courthouse, Jackson, intended by architect Bertram Goodhue for over 20 years. Learn more at www.
Minnesota5 to be a temporary structure that would be architecture-restoration.com.
Built in 1908, the Jackson County replaced by gardens. Because of the beauty
Courthouse interior features colorful and functionality of the building, San
murals by artist Odin J. Oyen of La Crosse, Diegans decided to keep the building, and
Wisconsin. Adorning the interior of the for the past 92 years, is has been a prime 1
The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the
Dome and the second ﬂoor courtroom, wedding, dining, and meeting location. Treatment of Historic Properties.
the murals depict subjects ranging from 2
This project received two awards: (1) Historic
This historic building of 67,392 square feet
Education and Industry, to Truth and Preservation Award in 2002 from Preservation
was, in 1997, the largest reconstruction and Alliance of Minnesota (PAM); and (2) Recognition
Achievement. They were painted in oil
restoration project in the U.S. It involved Award also in 2002 from Saint Paul Chapter of the
on canvas in the artist's studio and then
reconstruction of the entire building, American Institute of Architects (AIA).
attached to the plastered walls of the dome
replication of the exterior ornamentation, 3
This project received a Heritage Preservation
and upper part of walls in the Courtroom.
and restoration and replication of the interior Award 1995 from the City of Minneapolis and AIA
Due to water inﬁltration from a leaking
spaces. All architectural elements were Minnesota.
roof, the integrity of the murals was 4
restored and/or replicated in 1996-1997. The This project received an Historic Preservation Award
aﬀected (ﬂaking and delaminating paint)
ceiling of the Café del Rey Moro’s (now Café in 2000 from the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.
and several had begun to detach from their
del Prado) ceiling decoration was replicated 5
This project received an Historic Preservation Award
supporting substrate, some of them up to
on canvas then mounted on the ceiling. in 2007 from the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota.
80%. All murals were restored in 2006.
This project received two awards: (1) National
Dan Tarnoveanu is the founder of
House of Hospitality, Balboa Park, San Preservation Award in 1998 from National Trust for
Diego, California6 Renaissance Art, Restoration and Historic Preservation; and (2) Orchid Award also in
Architecture and has been in business 1998 from the City of San Diego.
Erected for the 1915 Panama-California
Exposition, the House of Hospitality was
6 The Minnesota Preservationist
Woodwork and Furniture
By Dave Gunderson, an owner of Fresh Air Finishers
O rnamental woodwork and beautiful
wooden furniture have decorated our
homes and public buildings for centuries.
Identify the Wood
It can be diﬃcult to identify the type of
wood used in old furniture and woodwork.
Much of the wood used years ago is Birch often gets mistaken for maple. One
irreplaceable. Old growth forests produced hundred year old mahogany and stained
high quality dense lumber with a tight grain butternut can look like black walnut. It may
that was used for furniture, woodwork be oak, but is it red oak or white oak? Is it
and architectural elements. When we plain sawn, quarter sawn or rift sawn? While
preserve this wood we also preserve the it is possible to clean and conserve wood
craftsmanship of the artisans. This article without knowing the species, it becomes
Photo courtesy of Dan Tarnoveanu.
will touch on some of the things that we very important if you are repairing or
consider in order to assure that beautiful replacing a missing element. Wood species
old woodwork and furniture is maintained that are more prone to rot and decay may
and preserved for future generations. Two require more urgent attention than wood
recent projects—The Minnesota State that is denser and more moisture resistant.
Capitol furniture restoration (St. Paul, MN) Check to see if there are any documents
and the American Swedish Institute panel from the architect, builder, cabinet maker
restoration (Minneapolis, Minnesota) are or owner that specify what type of wood was
examples in which we used the information used. Get opinions from people with wood
below to determine our preservation knowledge. If there is no consensus, or if
methods. absolute certainty is necessary, have an end
Before and after views of paneling at the American Swedish Institute.
Photos courtesy of Dave Gunderson.
January - February 7
Photos courtesy of Dave Gunderson.
Before and after views of a bench from the Minnesota State Capitol building.
grain slice analyzed under a microscope. The U.S. Forest Products the wood before the next coat is put on. After the last coat has had four
Lab in Madison, Wisconsin will identify wood free of charge. days to dry and harden it is to be thoroughly rubbed down with ﬂour
http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/ and pumice stone to a smooth, even dull gloss. Strict compliance with this
method of ﬁnish will be required.”
Identify the Finish
It is very helpful to be able to identify the ﬁnish so you can decide We appreciated that Cass wrote down such detailed directions. This
which methods and materials will be used in the restoration/ information was extremely helpful when we had to restore some of
preservation process. Solvent testing on an inconspicuous area is the benches that had been improperly reﬁnished. These benches
a good way to narrow the possibilities. Dip a cotton swab in the have been used since 1905 and have seen considerable wear and tear
chosen solvent and lightly rub the ﬁnish. If the ﬁnish dissolves or over the years. Our job was to thoroughly clean the benches, restore
gets sticky when swabbed with alcohol, it is probably a spirit varnish broken corners, touch-up nicks and gouges and replace missing
like shellac, or an old nitrocellulose lacquer ﬁnish. Mineral spirits pieces without removing the original ﬁnish. It gave us a feeling of
will soften most wax ﬁnishes. If the ﬁnish doesn’t soften with great satisfaction to know that we completed this job successfully.
alcohol or lacquer thinner, then it may be a reactive ﬁnish such as oil- These benches are now ready for the next hundred years.
based varnish. Sometimes original wood and ﬁnish speciﬁcations
Identify the Condition
from the architect or builder may be available. On a recent project
A Conditions Report is a detailed analysis of the wood, the ﬁnish and
at the Minnesota State Capitol, the Minnesota Historical Society
everything that aﬀects it. The condition of the wood and the ﬁnish
provided us with the following detailed Cass Gilbert speciﬁcations
are fairly easy to observe. Other factors that aﬀect the condition of
for ﬁnishing the wood furniture.
the wood such as relative humidity, light, human traﬃc and current
“Wood Finish: All wood must be ﬁrst thoroughly cleaned, then given cleaning methods must also be analyzed. The Conditions Report
one coat of Wheeler’s patent wood ﬁller, or other ﬁller equally as good. will also contain information regarding the type of wood, type of
The ﬁller is to be thoroughly applied and rubbed into the wood, ﬁlling all ﬁnish, and how the wood will be used in the future. Will it be in a
open pores. The ﬁller to be stained as may be directed, followed by one museum or will it be in everyday use in a home or public building?
coat of alcohol shellac, which must be thoroughly sand-papered with the
grain of the wood, then to receive three coats of the best imported English
Deciding what to do can be a diﬃcult decision. What is good
furniture rubbing varnish, allowing four days for drying between each
dirt and what is bad dirt? What is patina? How do you clean and
coat. Each coat to be thoroughly sand-papered parallel with the grain of
8 The Minnesota Preservationist
preserve something without removing history and decreasing the making wrong decisions. Maintenance of the restored woodwork
value? may be as simple as a light dusting and an occasional light cleaning.
Improper cleaning with harsh chemicals and abrasives can remove
If the Conditions Report shows that deterioration of the wood ﬁnish and damage the wood. A well-meaning person using the
and/or ﬁnish is taking place, then some method of stabilization wrong cleaning material can do more damage in ﬁfteen minutes
should be done as soon as possible. The American Swedish than would be done by 100 years of natural wear.
Institute in Minneapolis had a steam leak from a hot water
radiator that severely damaged several of the Honduran mahogany Preserving the beautiful woodwork and furniture of the past
panels. After hearing that the insurance adjuster was proposing to requires the same careful thought and skillful craftsmanship that
bring in a dumpster, remove the damaged panels and replace them went into producing them. Following these basic guidelines will
with new ones, we met with the curator, and assured him that we help curators, architects, building managers and homeowners
could preserve and restore most of the damaged wood. determine the best method to preserve historic ﬁnishes and
maintain them for the future.
The panels, many of which were delaminating, were labeled,
diagrams drawn, and then carefully removed. They were then Fresh Air Finishers is located in South St. Paul, Minnesota.
taken to our studio and laid out on benches to begin the restoration We specialize in the restoration of historic and modern wood
process. Cleaning the wood, mixing the appropriate hide glue and ﬁnishes, woodwork and furniture. See some of our work at
re-gluing the pieces back together was just the start. Some of the www.FreshAirFinishers.com. You can reach us at 651-207-5878
back veneers were completely damaged so new veneers were made. or info@FreshAirFinishers.com.
Surprisingly, much of the original ﬁnish was still intact and we were
able to restore it as well. Then began the re-assembly back at the
museum, and the blending of the newly restored ﬁnish to match
the existing ﬁnish. The old world shellac spirit varnish that we used
had no lingering odor so we were able to work during the day with
no complaints of unpleasant odors. The beautiful book-matched
Honduran mahogany panels were restored and preserved and
saved from the dumpster.
If the ﬁnish is in decent condition and the wood is stable, other
methods are available. Many times a light cleaning is all that is
needed. Sometimes a cleaning and additional ﬁnish may be the
best option and sometimes it may be appropriate to do nothing
at all. A careful analysis of the Conditions Report will prevent
Welcome New Members
Trilby Busch, Minneapolis
Kane and Johnson Architects Inc., Rochester
Theodore Lentz, Saint Paul
Grant Merritt, New Hope
Art Hamilton, Minneapolis
Emily Northey, Brainerd
William Seefert, Roseville
Lisa Tabor, Saint Paul
Victoria Young, North Oaks
January - February 9
Thanks to careful preservation, Minneapolis's
Municipal Building rotunda is once again one
of the city's most iconic, captivating spaces
by Douglas Mack, MacDonald & Mack Architects
Stairwell adjacent to the rotunda.
T he Municipal Building in Minneapolis
is literally and ﬁguratively
overshadowed by its skyscraper neighbors.
You might even be wondering: “Municipal
Building? Where's that?” Located at 350
South 5th Street, you probably know it
as Minneapolis City Hall. Designed by
the architectural ﬁrm of Long and Kees,
the imposing Richardsonian Romanesque
structure opened in 1895 to serve as both
City Hall and the Hennepin County
Courthouse. It still houses county oﬃces,
and the maintenance of the building remains
the responsibility of the Municipal Building
Commission, a joint city/county board.
The building is slightly removed from the
busiest portions of downtown, and not easily
accessible via the skyway system (although
there are tunnel connections to other
buildings). It draws many visitors for its
utilitarian, governmental purposes—to pay
a bill or call on a City Council member—but
few stop to appreciate its design.
Unless, that is, they pass through the rotunda
at the Fourth Street entrance, in which case
it's impossible not to stop and gaze at one of
Photo courtesy of Jerry Mathiason.
downtown's—and the city's—most striking
The rotunda, as it is seen today, was
completed in 1906 for the unveiling of the
iconic Father of Waters statue by sculptor
10 The Minnesota Preservationist
Larkin Goldsmith Mead. It features marble ﬂoors, walls, and (the lead divider strips between pieces of glass) were starting to
ceilings as well as ﬁve stories of stained glass windows and a large buckle and many of the solder joints were coming apart; several
stained glass skylight. The marble used for the interior ﬁnishes, pieces of glass were cracked or missing. During the restoration, all
as well as the Father of Waters, came from the famous quarries in thirty-seven windows, including the skylight, were carefully removed
Carrara, Italy, which supplied Michelangelo and other Renaissance for repairs and re-leading. Each window was dismantled and the
sculptors. Later additions to the rotunda were built adjacent to location of each piece of glass was documented for reinstallation.
the stained glass windows on the south side, blocking many of the
Sounds straightforward, but the windows and skylight were
incredibly intricate, with over 71,000 pieces of glass (yes, that's the
The space was designed to be the center of civic life for the city and correct number of zeroes) to be cleaned, repaired or replaced, and
county, and has provided a public forum for inaugural celebrations, reassembled back into their original sash. In instances where glass
award ceremonies, political addresses, and community meeting for needed replacement, up to three sheets of glass had to be plated
nearly a century. But over the years, the structural integrity of the together to achieve the same color shade as the original piece of
stained glass windows began to fail, the rotunda became dirty from glass.
tobacco smoke and grime, and the marble cracked from wear and
The entire rotunda was ﬁlled with scaﬀolding, with a working
tear. The civic gem lost some of its luster.
platform just below the ceiling to allow removal of the skylights and
Both the stained glass and marble were carefully inspected to control the water during cleaning of the ceiling. The scaﬀolding
during 2001 to assess the repairs needed. In November, 2002, also provided working areas for cleaning the walls of the rotunda
the Municipal Building Commission began a year-long Rotunda and removing the vertical stained-glass windows.
Restoration Project to restore the space to its original splendor.
Originally driven by the fear of falling stained glass, it provided The Carrara marble on the walls and ﬂoor also needed restoration.
opportunities for imporovement and ended up focusing on three While much of it simply needed cleaning, a signiﬁcant portion of the
areas of restoration: stained-glass repairs, marble cleaning, and marble on the ground ﬂoor had been treated with a coating earlier in
lighting. the century to protect it from dirt and removing this coating was the
biggest problem faced in cleaning the marble. Numerous products
MacDonald & Mack Architects (based in the Minneapolis Grain and techniques were tested to ﬁnd the most eﬀective solution.
Exchange, just across the street from the Municipal Building) were
selected to be responsible for all three aspects of the project. The As with cleaning other types of masonry, the product used here
project design was a team eﬀort including Michael Pilla, stained could not contain any acid or require pressure washing; it also had to
glass consultant, and Schuler and Shook, lighting consultants. Dave be low in water content, due to the interior location of the rotunda.
Macdonald, structural engineer, played a particularly important In many areas, the selected solvent had to be applied several times
role in designing the scaﬀolding that ﬁlled the entire atrium for with long dwell times for it to be eﬀective. The remainder of the
nearly a year. marble was easily cleaned with a mild soap and water solution.
Overall, the marble was in very good physical condition with the
The stained glass in the rotunda was originally designed and exception of some minor cracking and holes. These were viewed as
manufactured by Ford Brothers of Minneapolis. Some windows “wrinkles of age” and were patched to reduce visibility rather than
contained layers of plated glass to achieve speciﬁc colors as well being replaced with new marble.
as multi-faceted glass. The stained glass triptych windows on the
staircase landing were also painted to obtain a higher level of detail. The rotunda was originally lit by a large skylight and stained glass
By 2002, all of the windows were beginning to fail. Through careful windows along the south elevation and in the stairwells. The skylight
was eventually roofed over, and ﬁfteen of the stained glass windows
inspection, MacDonald & Mack determined that the lead cames
National Register Nominations
Historic Tax Credit Applications
Cultural Resource Surveys
Section 106 Compliance
Exhibits and Interpretation
Historic Landscape Reports
100 North First Street
Minneapolis MN 55401
January - February 11
along the south wall and in the corner
stairwells were blocked oﬀ by later building
additions. These windows were then backlit
with ﬂuorescent lighting. As a result, a high
level of contrast between the naturally and
artiﬁcially lit windows could be seen on very
sunny days as well as at night.
The ﬁnal focus of the restoration was to
minimize this lighting contrast by restoring
and simulating natural day-lighting wherever
possible. In the southwest stairwell, exterior
brick veneer was removed and replaced with
energy eﬃcient storm windows, allowing
natural light to illuminate the stained glass
once again. This wasn't an option for the
remaining blocked-in windows along the
south elevation and in the southeast stairwell,
but new ﬂuorescent backlighting, controlled
by a sensor to approximate the amount of
outside light, pulls oﬀ the illusion of natural
light quite nicely. New spot lighting adds a
ﬁnal ﬂourish, illuminating the ceiling and
skylight, the statuary on the ground ﬂoor,
and areas used for public ceremonies.
The $800,000 restoration was completed in
2003, giving new life to this important civic
space—and ensuring that it will continue to
stop passersby in their tracks for generations
View of the leaded glass skylight in the rotunda.
Architects and overall project coordination: Lighting consultant: Schuler and Shook
MacDonald & Mack Architects, Ltd. General contractor: Gladstone Construction
Stained glass consultant: Michael Pilla, Monarch Studios Stained glass restoration: Bovard Studios
Structural engineer: David Macdonald, Masonry cleaning and repairs:
Mattson/Macdonald/Young Macpherson-Towne Company
12 The Minnesota Preservationist
Photo courtesy of Jerry Mathiason.
January - February
14 The Minnesota Preservationist
Photo courtesy of Martina Foss.
O n November 11th, 2009, the Alliance
played host to two events that
highlighted the inter-connectivity of historic
preservation and sustainability. The day was
a resounding success; here’s a look at the day’s
“Old is the New Green: Preservation as
Sustainable Design” Symposium
Held in conjunction with AIA Minnesota’s Attendees were treated to a speech by Richard Moe, president
Conference, the “Old is the New Green” of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Symposium was a four-session track
highlight new research and cutting edge Jean Carroon, Goody Clancy; Rosemary
exploring the connection between
tools that show how the ecological impact Dolata, Aeon; Deborah Everson, Domain
sustainable design and historic preservation.
on historic preservation can be measured Architecture & Design; Michael Everson,
These sessions allowed participants to further
and quantiﬁed, with the session “Calculate Domain Architecture & Design; Patrice Frey,
their knowledge of historic preservation and
to Renovate.” The Symposium concluded National Trust for Historic Preservation;
green retroﬁt design, learn new research and
with sold out keynote speeches to a crowd Dan Katzenberger, Engineering, Energy and
cutting edge tools to quantify the value of
of 625 convention goers by National Trust the Environment, LLC; Denita Lemmon,
retroﬁtting and adaptive reuse, and discover
for Historic Preservation President Miller Dunwiddie Architecture; Rachelle
examples of sustainable preservation in the
Richard Moe and Nation Trust Director Schoessler Lynn, Studio 2030; Charles
of Sustainability, Patrice Frey, discussing Liddy, Miller Dunwiddie Architecture;
The day began with a 7:00 am breakfast the topic, “Sustainability Begins with Bonnie McDonald, Preservation Alliance
meeting, featuring Alliance Executive Preservation.” of Minnesota; Richard Moe, National Trust
Director Bonnie McDonald, who provided for Historic Preservation; and John Stark,
In total, a combined 1,500 people partook in Perkins + Will.
an overview of current sustainability
initiatives relating to existing historic
“The New Green: Dinner with Richard Moe”
buildings in Minnesota. Despite the early The Alliance would like to thank all of our After an already successful day, the Alliance
hour, this session SOLD OUT with 280 Symposium speakers for contributing their hosted a fundraising dinner at the General
attendees! Two more sessions throughout time and expertise to highlighting this topic: Mills World Headquarters in Golden Valley
the day sought to discuss local preservation
Kim Bartmann, Red Stag Supper Club; to honor the career contributions of Richard
and sustainable projects in Minnesota with
John Carmody, University of Minnesota; Moe, who announced that he will retire in
the session titled “Localize/Revitalize,” and
January - February 15
spring of 2010. Eighty-one attendees were
treated to an evening that featured speeches
from Ken Powell, CEO of General Mills,
Tim Carl of HGA Architects and Engineers,
and Richard Moe. Comments highlighted
the recent expansion and stewardship of the
iconic, Modernist General Mills campus
using sustainable design principals. The
event was capped with a rare behind-the-
scenes tour of the General Mills complex
featuring the innovative design contributions
of HGA Architects and Engineers.
We appreciate the generous support of our
sponsors, Target and HGA Architects and
Engineers, for making the Symposium and (left to right) Marvel Anderson, Jackie Jamieson and Barbara McDonald are
New Green Dinner possible. The Alliance thoroughly enjoying their guided tour of the General Mills Campus.
would also like to thank our Symposium
partner, AIA Minnesota, and dinner hosts,
Ken Powell and the staﬀ of General Mills, Symposium Committee Special Events
for making this day such a success. Amy Douma, Chair Melissa Ekman, Chair
Kelli Andre, Staﬀ Kelli Andre, Staﬀ
The Alliance would also like to send a big Matthew Dunbar Laura Faucher
THANK YOU to the Symposium Task Laura Faucher Martina Foss
Force and Special Events Committee James Malanaphy Ann Meyer
members who worked tirelessly over the past Mike Otto Jill Vowels
year to put on these events. Kimberly Sandbulte Lyssa Washington
16 The Minnesota Preservationist
In the Field
By Erin Hanaﬁn Berg
Photo courtesy of Kelli Andre.
A s I write this, we are nearing the end of
2009, and I am reﬂecting on the people
and the places I have visited throughout
the year. Over the past twelve months, I
have visited over a hundred historic places
throughout the state, assisting individuals,
community groups, and municipal leaders
with strategies and tools to preserve the
historic places that matter to them. I oﬀer
here a visual sampling of the historic sites
I have photographed on my ﬁeld visits,
and wish you all a 2010 that is ﬁlled with
enthusiasm, tenacity (where needed), and
appreciation for the historic places that give
our state such character and vitality.
Photo courtesy of Erin Hanaﬁn Berg.
Erin Hanaﬁn Berg
Built-in cabinetry in basement of Guardian Angels Friary, Chaska.
Albert Lea Commercial Historic Disctrict in August 2009.
WPA stone wall surrounding Chisholm Athletic Park.
Photos courtesy of Erin Hanaﬁn Berg.
January - February 17
What did they say?
Quotations on preservation
W atch an old building with an anxious care;
guard it as best you may, and at any cost, from
every inﬂuence of dilapidation. Count its stones as you
would jewels of a crown; set watches about it as if at
the gates of a besieged city; bind it together with iron
where it loosens; stay it with timber where it declines;
do not care about the unsightliness of the aid: better
a crutch than a lost limb; and do this tenderly, and
reverently, and continually, and many a generation will
still be born and pass away beneath its shadow.
–John Ruskin, The Lamp of Memory, The Seven
Lamps of Architecture
John Ruskin (1819–1900) was an English art critic and
social thinker, also remembered as a poet and artist. His
essays on art and architecture were extremely inﬂuential in
the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
18 The Minnesota Preservationist
The Last Word
By Bonnie McDonald
B ehavioral psychologists used to argue
about the source of human action being
born out of either nature or nurture. We
now know that both inﬂuence our behavior.
Photo courtesy of Bonnie McDonald.
Take your value for historic places. Sure,
you may be genetically predisposed to
preservation if a family member was an
architect, tradesperson, historian, or the
like. It’s more probable that your interest
in history was nurtured by visiting historic
sites, reading or watching ﬁlms about the
past, and experiencing something authentic Miller Dunwiddie Architecture’s Charles Liddy and Bonnie McDonald enjoy the
connecting you with the great continuum of November 11 dinner at General Mills honoring National Trust President Richard Moe.
time, place, and person.
to abate property taxes increases for a certain will explore design solutions for integrating
You may have witnessed this spark for the
period after making repairs and restoring new structures, density, and transit
past ignited in a child the ﬁrst time you take
historic features. The legislation expired in sensitively into historic districts.
them into a particularly monumental historic
2003, but there is renewed interest at the
building. Take the Minnesota State Capitol, The Alliance continues to expand our
Capitol in reestablishing the provision to
for example, one of the state’s most impressive services in 2010 to reach communities across
help homeowners. This is just one of the
historic interiors. I was a State Capitol Minnesota. Erin Hanaﬁn Berg is in her
several legislative eﬀorts that the Alliance
site guide for the Minnesota Historical second full year as our Field Representative
will undertake in 2010 to incentivize
Society for several years leading throngs of in partnership with the National Trust for
reinvestment in historic properties.
schoolchildren through its hallowed halls. Historic Preservation. In her 16 months
With eyes wide and necks craned, they We will return to the Capitol for our expanding our ﬁeld services, Erin has
would take in the scale and beauty of this perennial advocacy on behalf of the State responded to 3,630 requests for information,
building—their building—and leave with a Rehabilitation Tax Credit. We are now conducted 105 site visits to each region of
spark for stewarding the past. one of only 10 states without this incentive. the state, and assisted in the preservation of
Facing a projected State budget shortfall and 121 historic properties. Read more about
Historic interiors like the Capitol Rotunda
a short Session, these challenges are oﬀset Erin’s projects, and the other Alliance
can provide an even richer, and more authentic,
by the desire to create jobs and promote programs supported by your membership, at
experience with historic architecture.
reinvestment in Minnesota, two beneﬁts of www.mnpreservation.org. What better time
Inside, we can experience the nuances of
our legislation. Please watch your e-mail of year to grab a cup of cocoa, curl up by the
the design—spatial relationships, materials,
box, our website, and our Facebook page for ﬁre, and surf our website?
lighting, and surface details. As this issue
action alerts to get involved and pass this
demonstrates, however, the preservation of
vital legislation. Let’s make 2010 our year!
historic interiors is far more challenging than
exteriors. The rapid alteration of interiors Capitalizing on our successful “Old is the
often results in a loss of historic material and Bonnie McDonald
New Green” Symposium (please read the
privacy and property rights concerns prevent Executive Director
recap on pages 15 and 16), we will continue
survey, documentation, and designation. to provide additional training seminars and
workshops in 2010 for professionals working
The answer is incentivizing the protection
with historic properties. The Alliance is
and sensitive rehabilitation of historic
launching a new series of training seminars
interiors. In the past, the State of Minnesota
for real estate agents interested in marketing
had legislation called “This Old House,” a
historic properties. A series of workshops
program that allowed historic homeowners
January - February 19
Where Is It? Is It?” on the Register. The Internet says there
is an Armagrandi Spina Hotel in Istanbul with
By Bill Morgan room rates a bit steeper than Ironton’s hotel.
Few Minnesota communities of 500 Architect David Linner, a faithful column
people can boast of three National reader, identiﬁed the Renaissance Revival style
Register properties. Ironton, Crow Wing hotel on Minnesota’s Cuyuna Iron Range.
County, lists its City Hall, Water Tower, You will need a hint for the my next “Where Is
and the Spina Hotel—this issue’s “Where It?” When you see this Dutch Colonial Revival
building think of a famous coﬀee house chain.
My e-mail address
Photos by Bill Morgan.
834 Village Avenue, Sartell,
Where was it last time? Ironton. Where is it this time?
Published by the Permit No. 672
Preservation Alliance of Minnesota
416 Landmark Center
75 W. Fifth St.
Saint Paul, MN 55102
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