George W. Van Dusen Mansion

Individual Landmark

 

 LaSalle_Ave_1900_George_Van_Dusen_Mansion-1
1948

 LaSalle_Ave_1900_George_Van_Dusen_Mansion-2
2006

Address: 1900 LaSalle Avenue South

Neighborhood: Steven’s Square

Construction Date: 1891

Contractor: Unknown

Architect: Orff and Joralemon

Architectural Style: Richardsonian Romanesque

Historic Use: Private Residence

Current Use: Private Residence, Commercial

Date of Local Designation: 1995

Date of National Register Designation: 1995

Area(s) of Significance: Architecture, Social History, Industry

Period of Significance: 1893-1915, 1916-1928

Historic Profile: Built at the time Minneapolis was heralded as "the flour milling capital of the world," the Van Dusen Mansion remains a symbol of the corporate success of one of Minnesota’s leading grain processing and distribution businesses. The flourishing grain, railroad, and lumber industries of the late nineteenth-century brought Minneapolis entrepreneurs, like George W. Van Dusen, the immense prosperity reflected in their estates. Van Dusen acquired his fortune by developing a network of line elevators to store grain alongside railroad lines. Van Dusen’s strategy was, in fact, so successful that by 1928 the firm had a capacity of 6.7 million bushels, one of the largest in the Midwest. In 1891 Van Dusen, an otherwise low-profile businessman, commissioned the architects Orff and Joralemon to build a massive 12,000 square-foot residence and carriage house on the southwestern edge of Minneapolis. While its general massing and form are indebted to the Richardsonian Romanesque tradition, French Renaissance motifs, including steep roofs and a soaring slender turret capped with a copper finial enliven the upper stories. The interior is an eclectic mixture of French, Gothic, Tudor, Romanesque and Elizabethan styles featuring ten fireplaces, a grand staircase, chandeliers, large skylights, carved wood, parquet floors, and mosaic work in the entryway. Since the Van Dusen family’s occupancy in the 1940s, the mansion has housed the College of Commerce, the College of Medical Technology, the Horst Institute, and the Hamline Law School - a succession illustrative of the pattern of reuse of many large residences in the central city. The building has retained its original design integrity (with the exception of a one-story steel, glass and concrete addition to the south façade), in large part due to private/public restoration efforts in 1995.

Photo Credits:

1948, courtesy of The Minnesota Historical Society

2006, Minneapolis CPED

Works Cited:

City of Minneapolis, "City of Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission Registration Form," January 1995.

Updated: February 2007

Last updated Nov. 23, 2011