A week and a half ago, on April 25th, I got to see a piece of Minnesota history that I hadn’t even known existed. In downtown Minneapolis there is a building that was built as an armory for the Minnesota National Guard back in 1935-36. It still stands, and was put on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980’s.
The armory was built with a Public Works Administration grant, and is in the PWA Moderne style. Over the years in addition to serving as a National Guard armory, it was a venue for civic events. It’s been used for concerts, sporting events and political conventions. It even served as the primary home court for the Minneapolis Lakers for a season. Prince and Aerosmith both shot music videos in it – the 1999 video in 1982, and the I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing video in 1998. The majority of the building is now unused except for the main floor which is being used as a parking garage.
When you go into the building it looks like the parking area is all there is to it. But there’s so much more! I was meeting photographer extraordinaire Kyle Cassidy & my friend Jenn, who was assisting him, there. When I got there the parking lot attendent told me that he wasn’t sure where Kyle & Jenn had wandered off to, but he took me to the back corridors, through a door held shut with a chain that we had to duck under, and up a dark stairwell with a few rays of dust-filtered sunlight showing the way.
It. was. so. freaking. cool!
I’d texted Jenn that I’d arrived and so she met me with a flashlight & led me up to where Kyle was shooting Teratoma from the North Star Rollergirls. I fell instantly in love with the broken down building with its cracked floors, peeling paint and dead birds. I so desperately want to get back into this building with more than just an iPhone to shoot with. I want to see more than just the few rooms I saw in my hour or so there.
Here are a few of the images I got with the iPhone camera.
This mural was painted just a few years after the building first opened. The artist was Sr. Lucia Wiley.
To get more info on this cool building and to see some more pictures of it, here’s a link to James Lileks site where he talks about it.