Peavey Plaza ready for a makeover

  • Article by: BARBARA FLANAGAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 6, 2010 - 12:37 PM

And the old Shubert Theater will have new life as Cowles Center.

Re: Finally, a renewed Peavey Plaza, plus, a new Cowles Center and we are moving along nicely, thank you.

•••

They did a dandy job of design for the Target Field plaza entrance to our new baseball park, so why not try to redo Peavey Plaza?

Landscape architects Oslund and Associates, headed by Tom Oslund, will confront a Peavey Plaza that has grown older and somewhat unsightly.

The city, whose job it is to keep it fresh and booming, hasn't done much of late. Of course, that has to do with money or the lack of it.

So the pipes do not work and there is no water in the pool and the fountain is off kilter. But M. Paul Friedberg, the distinguished New York architect who designed and oversaw the work in 1975, still has hope and will be around occasionally to oversee things.

Some people have noted that they like the plaza as Friedberg designed it and only want it to be freshened up, not rebuilt.

The $5 million or $6 million reconstruction will begin in 2011. Funds, incidentally, will come from the state -- about $2 million -- and from some fundraising.

•••

The old Shubert Theater is changing its name, but not its wonderfully creamy façade. It is now known as the Cowles Center, named for Sage Cowles, a dancer and choreographer who is a longtime Minneapolis resident, and her husband, my old boss, John Cowles Jr.

Actually, John also took up dancing a bit after he retired. Both he and Sage appeared and toured with choreographer/dancer Bill Jones.

So now the Cowles Center will be right downtown, for all of the dance groups. It will be attached to the Hennepin Center for the Arts, the former Masonic Temple at 6th Street and Hennepin Avenue S. There, Kelley Lindquist, son of the late Judge Leonard Lindquist, runs Artspace, a national organization aimed at refurbishing historic buildings.

Recently, John Skogmo and Tom Morin had a party to celebrate the countdown to opening night, which is set for next September.

Gloria and Fred Sewell, parents of James Sewell, who was on tour with his Minneapolis-based dance company, were thrilled because they have been on board since the beginning.

"We have all waited a long time for this,'' said Gloria. Son James, who is good enough to wow New York critics when the company plays there, will be back and on hand to perform opening night.

One thing that intrigues me is that the center will include several new studios for dance instruction. Such as tap, perhaps? Maybe I will tap dance again.

•••

Norton Stillman, the publisher of Nodin Press and a man who loves miniature schnauzers, takes me to lunch every autumn to talk about his new books. And we always go to Peter's Grill for soup and ah-h-h pie.

This year, he has delivered his new books before November: Jim Klobuchar's newest football saga, "Always on Sunday,'' with coach Bud Grant as co-author; and "The Lindsay Whalen Story," about the basketball star. The best new book of all is ''Nicollet Island'' by Christopher and Rushika Hage, a husband and wife writing team. It is a doozy of a good book.

This lunch, Stillman also offered "Golfing the Les Bolstad Way'' by a former University of Minnesota golfer, Robert Iver Hustrulid.

I have never golfed, but the book interested me because of its color photos of golfing swings. Les, who died in 1998, spent most of his life teaching golf at the University of Minnesota and to such famous golfers as Minnesota's Patty Berg.

The reason I liked the book is that my mother was a golfer. She would have been so proud if I could have asked her "How is my hip rotation?''

•••

Older timers may remember a radio commercial for the Minneapolis Star on which a young man shouted out , ''Don't say papah, say Stahhh!''

That young voice is now in his 99th year and going along nicely, thank you.

The voice belonged to George Grim, who came to the Twin Cities from his New Jersey home to begin a career which turned from a news reporter, to a war correspondent, to the "I Like It Here'' columnist.

Grim, who now lives in Bal Harbour, Fla., told me he is fine, can't walk too well, but loves going out to dinner. He also adores the Metropolitan Opera and, at home, the Minnesota Orchestra.

"When I bought this apartment many years ago,'' he told me, ''there was a chair in front of a window overlooking a wonderful view. Well, now I am in that chair daily, looking out, hearing the birds, enjoying incredible health, and life.''

I plan to stay in touch to celebrate his 100th.

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