Mill City Museum – Thursday Doors

There are several doors of this general “style” – this place was built for function – not form.

Last week, after my business in Minneapolis was concluded, my brother and I hung around for another day in the city. On Friday, we visited the Mill City Museum. I’ve written about the building that houses this museum. I was in the building, but for a business meeting, not a tour. I mentioned in the post or the pictures, that the building had exploded. That was incorrect, albeit it was also correct.

Huh?

The original flour mill on the site had exploded in the late 1800s. The present building included flour-dust collection systems and was in operation from slightly-later 1800s until 1963. The building was added to the National Registry of Historic Places (NRHP), but while various people and groups were trying to figure out what to do with the building, a fire, in 1991 caused the extensive damage that we see today. The fire, attributed to a homeless population who were living in the building, destroyed most of the historic contents. Fortunately, the people escaped unharmed.

Being on the NRHP prevented the city from tearing down the ruins. The building now houses the museum and, as I mentioned before, is available for meetings and special events.

We walked to the museum and arrived just as a Flour Tower tour was about to begin. The sales clerk offered to hold the tour for a few minutes to allow us to join. We didn’t know that we would be joining a field-trip for a group of first-graders, but it was fun. They were well-behaved, and they asked some interesting questions. The tour is conducted by elevator. I don’t have a good picture, as we were holding up the show, but there’s a good image on the museum website. The elevator offered bleacher-like seating and traveled up and down the eight floors of the building. As it bounced between floors, it would stop at random floors and a movie or audio presentation would take place. We “heard” the mill’s story from employees throughout the 70 or so years the mill was in operation. It was a fascinating way to learn about the history of the mill.

The elevator rose to the eighth floor at the end of the tour. At that point, the docent explained more about the mill’s operation and invited us to climb to the ninth-floor observation deck. After a few minutes on the observation deck, we took the elevator to the exhibit hall (just ahead of the first-graders).

I will spread out the photos that I took over several blog posts, including more than one Thursday Doors post. Believe it or not, I’ve been trying to shrink the size of my photo galleries – really, I have!


Thursday Doors is a complex and smoothly operating photo-mill designed to gather door photos from around the world, package them into easy-to-access links and make them available to everyone. Millwright and master machinist, Norm Frampton keeps the steam flowing, the belts moving, and the gears greased. The photo mill has been in operation for several years, and has processed tens of thousands of door photos. To process your doors, send your photos by train, barge or Internet to Norm’s mill in Montreal. Once you arrive, check out Norm’s doors and follow his instructions for delivering yours.

93 thoughts on “Mill City Museum – Thursday Doors

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  1. Cool shots of an amazing building, Dan. It looks like it has an incredible amount of history embedded in it. I seem to be in a quirky mood this morning, causing me to smile when I read “Flour Tower” and was thrown back to the 1960’s and the Flower Power movement and chuckle when I read the placard “This is a dust-collector.” I have entire sets of dust collectors all over my house. :)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m glad you went on the tour – and took us with you! Sounds like a wonderful museum. I’m looking forward to your next posts!

    Mine this week involves a museum and history as well. And a bit of a disaster too. A sinking Roman boat, almost 2000 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Incredible photos, Dan. I share the editor’s interest in the stove. Years ago, I lived for several months on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. The cabin was equipped with a wood-fed stove like the one you captured. I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Gwen. I don’t think one of those stoves is in my future, but it is a thing of beauty. The Editor tends our wood stove (heating) in the winter. She doesn’t seem to mind that.

      Like

  4. I will second that negative vote on the glass elevators. Its enough to make a person go out and buy some MIB opaque sunglasses for that ride. I think I will borrow your form and function line. I try not to think of elevators as thrill rides. It is supposed to elevate my person – not my blood pressure. Lots of fascinating historical objects. Looking at the picture of the stabilized wall it is difficult to believe it needs any stabilization. That wall looks to be 3 or 4 feet thick. The builders had lots of confidence in the strength of that stone arch doorway. The entire weight of the stone wall sits directly above it. The windows are off to the sides and the full weight of the wall is above the arch. The rolling ‘barn’ door for the arch is neat. It would be neat to see what the original door arrangement was. And that is not a request for historical research on your part.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks John. That may be the original door. When I was in the building’s meeting spaces, two years ago, there were several doors like that still in use.

      The Editor is going to like this comment and appreciate your support on her thoughts on glass elevators and such devices.

      I had the same thought about the wall. Maybe after surviving the fire, the stone work is more fragile. Still, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glass elevators, glass viewing platforms that extend beyond the shell of the building, oh and that glass floored horseshoe over the edge of the grand canyon are all worse than jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. Listen to the editor she is obviously an extremely intelligent person. And that is above and beyond her awesome editorial skills.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I have no problem with glass elevators, I’m not afraid of heights, I’ve done the Edge Walk on the top of the CN Tower, and I’ve jumped out of an airplane … but I cannot walk on that glass floor.

            And that glass platform over the Grand Canyon? Yeah … no.

            The mind is a strange thing sometimes.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Taking a field trip with children can open your eyes to different perspectives. I do love old buildings and marvel at how things were done. There was an old factory in Atlanta that they turned into shops, restaurants and condos. It is amazing what with a little thinking you can refurbish old building for current use . But I love the engine and the stove – true relics of times gone by.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Anita. I love these buildings, and I’m always glad to see them repurposed rather than torn down. This one offers the bonus of including the building’s history. The first graders were pretty cool to be on tour with.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My grandma cooked with it for years when I was little (Thanksgiving turkey was fantastic in it), but no, I don’t really cook with it myself aside from occasionally putting a pot of potatoes on top if I want to save on electricity that day. But I do use it all winter for heat to supplement my regular wood stove. One other thing I DO do with it though is I love to use it when I’m baking something like bread or buns to help them rise before I cook them. It’s so perfect for doing that. (Also, it just looks amazing in the room, so there’s that too!)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Dan – what a great visit … love the history of the Flour Mill and reading about it … grand that it’s being kept and will be used more regularly. The idea of the huge lift as a cinema-film space seems a very creative idea. I’m looking forward to seeing more of the photos … the shipping costs prohibit me from even thinking about acquiring one of the items on show! Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Hilary The history of the building and this entire region is fascinating, This was one of many flour mills in Minneapolis. I have read a lot about mills that were originally driven by a central water supply and then later electrified. It’s amazing what they were able to do.

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  7. I’m amazed by the elevator, at its size and the fact it has seating. Good thing you weren’t trapped in there with rowdy first graders!

    That’s a cool place, a combination of fire destruction, history and a glass elevator. Who could want for more?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent post Dan, thanks for the tour. I hope you and your bro were at least as well-behaved as the 1st graders ;-)
    Your editor isn’t the only one who’d want that stove. Probably not the most practical way to cook, I know, but gosh darn aren’t those old stoves a thing of beauty?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norm. Neither one of us got a star, but I think we behaved well. That stove is a work of art. I love it. I thought I had pictures with one of the doors open. If I ever find them, it might make an encore appearance.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh that stove!! I don’t think I would use it to cook, I just want it to admire!! Not a fan of glass elevators…..reminds me too much of rides at an amusement park. Don’t like them either!

    What a blast that you and your brother got to take this amazing tour with first graders. You must’ve gotten a real kick listening to their viewpoints versus yours.

    Great photos Dan. Thanks for taking us along.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

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  10. Interesting machinery underneath the vertical one on the top row – do you know what it “does”?
    Phew, much more involved in a mill like this than a windmill (to process grain), which is basically a big round stone, with a handmade machine to bring the stone in movement! You are great in telling a story:):)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. I think the machinery would have moved grain from railroad cars up into those silos. The roof is above the 9th floor, do those silos are well over 100’ tall. This place processed amazing amounts of grain.

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  11. What a great trip to the museum. During my school days I was not really keen on visiting museums. However, my college is dead opposite to the Jehangir Art Gallery and the Prince of Wales Museum. Imagine an inverted triangle where the lower arc would be my college, the upper left is the gallery and the upper right the museum. So, whenever we had free time we would either dawdle in the gallery or the museum. I would like to admit that not many of my friends appreciate art and history so sometimes I would just go alone while they sip coffee in the college cafeteria.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so funny that you mention that, Sharukh. When I was in graduate school, I often went across the street to the Carnegie Museums (Art and Natural History). Students got in free with an ID, and I would sometimes just sit in one of the galleries and read.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Student ID for me was my golden ticket. You know how those guys in the movies flash the FBI badge, it was the same for me. I juiced out all the benefits from it. During my school days, just after I lost my parents, I used to visit this vada pav stall. Vada pav is basically potato fritter stuffed in a bread. Very much like a burger, Google it. So, this stall owner used to sell it 3 rupees per unit, but for students it was 2.5 rupees. Sometimes a piece of vada pav used to be my lunch, so even on a Sunday, I used to dress up in the uniform pick my student ID and go to the stall. The owner would be surprise to see me, he knows Sunday no school. So, he won’t give me a discount. However, I used to flash my student ID and lie that I was called for extra school work. And I would get my 0.50 paise discount. I used my student ID for city bus discount, local train discount and what not.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve driven past that place so many times, and have yet to take a tour. It’s not that far from where I live, your post has intrigued me to go there. I like how you described the 1st graders – they are clever with their innocent questions. And your ending with the description of Norm is brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow, Dan. This images combined with your captions make this a spectacular photo tour. What a fascinating building. Of course, I particularly like the little steam engine. I’ve bookmarked this for reference in a potential future steampunk story. LOL. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The elevator tour sounds so neat and very unique! I love the ruins, the steam engine, and that tin rusty door.

    That stove is wonderful, but chopping the wood to keep it going…not so much. It would make a lovely decorative piece though.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I combed through the comments looking for an explanation about that elevator door. Am I the only one who doesn’t get it? I’ve gone back and looked at it over and over but it still looks like it’s only about 2 feet off the floor. What am I missing?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had gone to the website but the photo didn’t help me understand. I do know what you mean about the blocks though. Maybe it is one of those optics ‘tricks’ and my eye simply can’t get past it.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Fascinating post, Dan. I’m not too sure bout those glass elevators. I don’t think I would do so well. I’d take the stairs thank you. You transported me into another place and time. Excellent write and even better photos. Thank you! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy. It was fun, but also a little sobering, since the mill was in operation until 1963. We were both older than those first graders in 1963. My brother is a retired teacher, so he’s had plenty of experience with field trips – these kids were good.

      I hope you have a nice weekend up there. Looks like it’s going to be hot here on Sunday.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Ah, I like this one, Dan! The old stove is pretty cool, but I especially like the steam engine. Immediately made me think of visiting the Smithsonian Museum of American History, which has all those cool old cars, machines and various other amazing devices. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. That is fantastic! What a fantastic share! I also love the stove. I’d want a newer model, but not too much newer ;) I also love the glass elevator and marvel at how well it accompanies the old building, which is utterly gorgeous and doorful! Really neat place to take us on a tour.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed this. So, you want the version of the stove that doesn’t require firewood? The building was fun to tour. If you ever get up there, it only takes an hour of two.

      Like

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