Address: 315 4 th Street South
Neighborhood: Downtown West
Construction Date: 1889-1905
Architect: Long and Kees
Architectural Style: Richardsonian Romanesque
Historic Use: Public – City Hall/Courthouse
Current Use: Public - Government
Date of Local Designation: 1977
Date of National Register Designation: 1974
Area(s) of Significance: Architecture, Politics
Period of Significance: 1889-
Historic Profile: Only four years after Minnesota was granted statehood in 1858, Minneapolis had outgrown its municipal headquarters on Bridge Square. By 1887, C.H. Pettit, a representative in the Minnesota legislature, was already behind an effort to create a joint city and county Municipal Building Commission to finance a building. The Minneapolis architecture firm of Long and Kees won a design competition, modeling their design after the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh, built earlier in 1883 by Henry Hobson Richardson. Originally estimated to cost $2,000,000, the final construction expenditures exceeded $3,500,000. The impressive rusticated pink Ortonville granite structure occupies an entire city block between 3 rd and 4 th Avenues and 4 th and 5 th Streets. The massive 5-story building is 100 feet tall with a clock chime tower that soars 365 feet above the ground. When the clock was added in 1916, it was heralded as the largest public timepiece in the world. The exterior, with arched entryways, turrets, and steep roof pavilions, exhibits Romanesque design features. The 4 th Street entrance leads into a five-story atrium. The stained glass window skylight illuminates the marble walls and ceremonial staircase. At the center of the atrium sits a massive statue of the "Father of the Waters," donated to Minneapolis in 1906. Also noted as the first "elastic" building in the country, the Municipal Building was engineered so that the floors could be remodeled independently. When the building first opened, there was enough surplus room to lease out the Second and Third floors to private businesses. Municipal services, however, expanded so quickly more room was needed. Between 1946 and 1949, a four-story addition was inserted into the open center court, closing the 4 th Street atrium. Other alterations to the building occurred in 1950 when the terra cotta roof was replaced with sheet copper and when the Council chambers were remodeled from a three-story room to a one-story room. In 2002, an extensive rotunda refurbishing job was undertaken, cleaning the marble, cartouches, and stained glass windows.
1904, Charles J. Hibbard, courtesy of The Minnesota Historical Society
2006, Minneapolis CPED
"National Register of Historic Places – Nomination Form," August 1974.
Updated: February 2007