Foshay Tower

Individual Landmark

Interior Lobby and Exterior

 

 Marquette_Ave_821-27_Foshay_Tower-1
1928

 Marquette_Ave_821-27_Foshay_Tower-2
2006

Address: 821-37 Marquette Avenue

Neighborhood: Downtown West

Construction Date: 1927-29

Contractor: M. Schumacker

Architect: Magney, Tusler, and Leon Arnal

Architectural Style: Art Deco

Historic Use: Commercial - Offices

Current Use: Under Construction (2007)

Date of Local Designation: 1984

Date of National Designation: 1978

Area(s) of Significance: Architecture, Engineering

Period of Significance: 1900-

Historic Profile: Inspired by a visit to the Washington Monument, Wilbur B. Foshay returned to Minneapolis with a vision for a grandiose office tower. Amassing his $22 million fortune from the utility business in less than ten years, Foshay dreamed of building a tower that would not only promote his business, but display his enormous success. In 1927 construction on the 32-story tower with a gradually tapering obelisk pyramidal roof began. The tower, standing on a two-story base, rose 447 feet above the street level, making it the tallest building in Minneapolis. The structure, made from fabricated steel and reinforced concrete, dominated the skyline for several decades. After construction was complete in 1929, the doors were opened to the public for a three-day celebration. For the first time the public was able to see the main lobby arcade with Italian marble walls, terrazzo floors, ornamental bronze wrought iron grillework, and elaborate light fixtures. High-speed elevators, traveling 750 feet per minute, carried passengers up to the 31 st floor observation deck. The 27 th and 28 th floors were not open to the public; instead, they housed Foshay’s personal office and living quarters. No expense was spared in his suite – African mahogany wood, Italian marble and engravings of Foshay’s personal crest. Less than two months after the grand opening of the Foshay Tower, the stock market crashed, spiraling the country into the Great Depression. The crash left Foshay broke and charged with 15 counts of fraud. He lost his tower and was sentenced to 15 years in Leavenworth Prison. Released from prison in 1947, he returned to Minnesota until his death in 1957. While many interior design elements were altered and the interior courtyard has been filled in, the Foshay Tower remains an expression of "conspicuous consumption" that swept through the United States during the economic boom of the 1920s. While Foshay himself did not benefit from the construction of the Tower, it has remained a distinctive architectural statement, bringing prestige to the City of Minneapolis.

Photo Credits:

1928, Hibbard Studio, courtesy of The Minnesota Historical Society

2006, Minneapolis CPED

Works Cited:

"National Register of Historic Places – Nomination Form," September 1977.

Updated: February 2007

Last updated Nov. 21, 2011