Andy Sturdevant wrote a regular column, The Stroll, for MinnPost until 2017. I still miss it. For those who feel the same, I can offer a brief taste of Andy’s writing on a Stroll-like architectural and historical question.
Background — I belong to a book (and etc.) group that meets weekly at Turtle Bread in the Cooper neighborhood. Turtle’s one-story brick building features unusual accent decorations in lighter-colored brick. I noticed that the building across 34th St. from Turtle, currently a business called Flourish, is similarly but not identically designed. Then I noticed that the Lake St. building housing the Bungalow Club restaurant echoes the first two.
The designs look Arts & Crafts; I would have guessed at a date in the 20s. I asked the manager at Turtle Bread and she said that they don’t have any information about the building or builder of which she was aware.
Here are photos of all three buildings (click on an image for a larger version).
1- Turtle Bread, southeast corner 34th St. & 42nd Ave.
2- Flourish, northeast corner 34th St. & 42nd Ave.
3- Bungalow Club, northeast corner Lake St. & 43rd Ave.
Unable to learn anything about the architect behind these buildings (or perhaps it was a builder with a creative vision, or a bricklayer foreman with an attitude?), I emailed Andy Sturdevant and turned the problem over to him. Here’s what he wrote back:
The Turtle Bread on 34th was built in 1927 by a builder named C.P. Johnson. You can see the original permit card here. Looks like in the 1930s it was a bar run by a Mrs. Tena Crest, and was later known as the Riviera Bar in the ’50s.
The Flourish building was built a little earlier, in 1925, by one M. Goldstein. (Permit here.) This doesn’t mean it wasn’t the same architect, of course, but there’s not an immediate connection between the two buildings, at least based on who the builders were. I don’t see any overlap in any of the other contractors, so it’s hard to know. There is an architect named Milton Goldstein listed in the 1926 city directory, and he seems to have been very active as a residential and commercial builder in the ’20s and ’30s. There’s quite a few references to him in the Star and Tribune throughout the ’20s. He mentions in ads that his homes are “ingenious – artistic – well-built.” He did quite a lot of work in Uptown and south Minneapolis — that nice little gem that’s painted beige, right next to the Stella’s Fish Cafe, is his. I’m not 100% sure it’s the same guy, but it seems pretty likely. Sadly, he drops out of the historical record in the ’30s and I can’t find an obituary, so I’m not sure how that story ends. Still, my sense is that he did add that flourish.
Turtle Bread is a little harder to figure. Goldstein doesn’t seem to have been involved, and C.P. Johnson, of course, is a little trickier to track down. There are no architects in the Minneapolis directories in the late ’20s named Johnson, or contractors or builders named “C.P.”
Bungalow Club is a bit earlier, 1915, by Dorance D. Greer. No connection to the other two, but that name makes it a lot easier to look him up. In fact, Greer’s offices seem to have been located at the 4300 East Lake address, so perhaps he built it as a showcase for his company. He and his wife turn up in the society pages quite a bit, so they seem to have been pretty well positioned socially. Greer seems to have died pretty young, at age 35, in 1918. Spanish flu, probably? I can’t find an obit, but he’s at Lakewood. Improbably, Dorance D. Greer III and IV are both still around in the west metro.
So that’s the best I can do right now! No connection between the three buildings, it seems, but definitely Dorman and Goldstein both seemed to have been pretty design-minded, so the flourishes are certainly someone’s creative vision.
Well there ya go then. (How’s my Minnesota accent?)