The future of the Southeast Minneapolis Library, part 4: A historic building

This is the fourth article in a six-part series on the future of the Southeast Library in Minneapolis. Previously, part 3: Marcy-Holmes loves its library.

Some neighborhood residents have said they’d like to preserve the Southeast Library building for historic reasons as an example of the late Ralph Rapson’s modern architecture.

The Southeast Library building, designed by the late Minneapolis architect Ralph Rapson, opened in 1963 as the University branch of the State Capitol Credit Union, now Affinity Plus. Four years later, the building, an example of modern architecture, became the Southeast Library around Christmas 1967.

Between 1904 and 1967, the Southeast Library was in the white marble Pillsbury building at 100 University Ave. S.E. on the corner of University and Central (above). The building houses the Phillips philanthropic foundation. Since the library moved out, it has also been the Doctors Diagnostic Laboratories and the Dolly Fiterman Fine Arts Gallery.

The old marble building of Beaux-Arts design by architect Charles R. Aldrich was built for Minneapolis Public Library by philanthropist John S. Pillsbury, wrote historians Penny A. Petersen and Marjorie Pearson of Hess, Roise and Company in a report to the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board (PDF).

Pillsbury, who lived in the neighborhood in the late 19th and early 20th centurys, made a fortune in lumber and flour industries and served three terms as Minnesota governor. A member of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents, he is the only named person in an outdoor statue on the Minneapolis campus.

“I developed the plan of giving the East Side a library which would be suited to the needs of the whole people,” Pillsbury once told a historian. “Some of my friends do not like the site I have chosen, but I believe it is the best situated to serve the needs of the largest number.”

The report said: “Pillsbury, like many of the New England settlers to Saint Anthony and Minneapolis, had strong beliefs about the importance of education and felt obligated to share his fortune for the public good.” The Beaux-Arts style had recently been “popularized by the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.”

Next, part 5: What does the community need today?

The Southeast Library is located near Dinkytown in the university area. The building was converted from a credit union office and opened as a branch library in 1967.

1222 4th St. SE
Minneapolis, MN
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  • Please leave something of beauty standing in this city of growing eyesores. - by Janet Nye on Thu, 01/31/2013 - 1:38am

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Bill Huntzicker's picture
Bill Huntzicker

Bill Huntzicker is a Minneapolis writer and teacher.