City staff is recommending that a historic preservation commission sign off on demolition of the Star Tribune's building on Portland Avenue, with one condition: Keep the medallions.
That refers to six stone medallions (above) embedded in the facade of the building, each representing a different Minnesota industry. They are dairy, milling, mining, fishing, farming and lumber.
The demolition is necessary to make way for a park that has been proposed as a complement to Ryan Companies' massive mixed-use development adjacent to the new Vikings stadium. The heritage preservation commission will weigh the application at a commission meeting next Tuesday.
In their report, city staff concluded that the building "appears to meet the definition of a historic resource." They nonetheless recommended moving forward with demolition, as long as the medallions were removed and incorporated into the proposed park. Ryan Companies must also commission a historian to document the history of the Star Tribune.
The Star Tribune building was first constructed around 1919, but assumed its current appearance after a major overhaul in the 1940s. Engraved in the limestone facade are the words "Star and Tribune," representing the two separate newspapers owned by the Cowles family. The papers were merged in the 1980s.
John (Jay) Cowles, the former chairman of the Cowles Media Company, wrote a letter to the city expressing his support for the demolition.
"The physical building is not the important part of the StarTribune's history," Cowles wrote. "The building itself outlived its original functionality long ago. You will recall that printing, distribution and fleet activities were moved to the Warehouse District with the completion of our Heritage Center manufacturing facilities decades ago. Because the StarTribune is a newspaper, much of its history is already well documented and preserved."
City staff documented the history of the building and newspaper in their report. Read it below: