Thursday, April 16, 2009

What Jewelry Stores and Alumacraft have in common

JB Hudson's in the Dayton's building in Minneapolis at 8th and Nicollet.  The space is now owned by Macy's which took over Dayton's several years ago, and reacquired this space after JB Hudson relocated to a new location further down Nicollet Mall.  

JB Hudson's was "born" in 1885 when Josiah Hudson moved to Minneapolis from Ohio at the age of 35.  He had been working in jewelry since he was an apprentice as a child during the Civil War, and had worked hard and saved hard, buying out his bosses interest in a jewelry store in Ohio in 1976.  He started in a tiny store near the river on Nicollet and throughout the course of the store's 124 year history, it has continued to "move up" from the riverfront area to its current location near Peavey Plaza.  

The Hudson family sold the company to Dayton's in late 1929, mere days before the stock market crash.  The store survived this and a 1911 fire which took all its inventory.

JB Hudson was repurchased from Dayton's in 1982 and is still held privately until this day.

The wrought iron gates, of which I showed the headpiece, were designed and handmade by Josef Bernasek, a Bohemian craftsman for Flour City Ornamental Iron Company. He also did the iron railing at the Young-Quinlan store, the ironwork in the Foshay Tower lobby and the famous doors of the Tribune Tower in Chicago.   

The Flour City Ornamental Iron Works Company was founded by Eugene Tetzlaff in 1893 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The company was originally a blacksmith shop, but later became a manufacturer of wrought and cast iron. During World War II, Flour City produced aluminum bridge pontoons and aircraft parts. In 1945, Henry J. Neils, first president of the Flour City Ornamental Iron Works Company, began production of aluminum boats. The first aluminum boat produced by Flour City subsidiary, Alumacraft, came off the production line in 1946. Hupp Corporation bought Alumacraft from Flour City in 1960.

I don't know what will become of this beautiful piece of history and that is why I wanted to get some photos.  Hard financial times mean that consumers aren't necessarily looking for a sumptious experience when out shopping and its hard to see the wisdom of reopening the space.  Still, it is a one of a kind location with its ornate plaster ceiling, velvet drapings, hand carved ballasters and travertine marble floors and walls.  I wish now I had gone in when it was still open, instead of just looking through the doors.

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