A peek at Frank Lloyd Wright structures

In the late 1930s, Mike McKinney's grandfather, Ray Lindholm, started an oil wholesale firm and chain of gas stations that became part of the landscape of nearly two dozen northern Minnesota towns. Lindholm was also a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright and hired the architect to design his Cloquet house, built in 1952. Two years later, Wright designed a gas station for Lindholm that still stands in the small town 20 miles west of Duluth. It's the only gas station of Wright's design that was ever built.

Both the house and the station still belong to the McKinney family, who this week made news by announcing the sale of their businesses, Best Oil and Little Stores, in two transactions.

Mike McKinney, chief of operations for the family business, said in an interview Thursday that the family decided to sell them because no one in the next generation, the fourth since the firms were started, wanted to take them on. Market conditions were also good.

They lease the Wright-designed gas station to another operator, and it doesn't run under either of the family's brands. The house, meanwhile, is vacant after one of McKinney's brothers moved out last summer. Called Mantyla, Finnish for "house in the pines," it sits on 15 acres of woodland and is one of 10 Wright-designed homes still standing in Minnesota. The family for many years has kept the home private, and images of it are rare, though it is in a Wright anthology by art publisher Taschen.

"If there's any Wright buffs who give us a call, we're happy to show it to them," McKinney said. "We've been maintaining it. It's in decent shape. We don't have a long-term formulation for what to do with it."



Test drive for dollars

If you go to the last day of the Twin Cities Auto Show, you could walk away with $25 to $225 with a little effort on your part. At last year's show, I accidentally discovered a $50 payment available for test driving new vehicles. Several dealers are offering the incentives this year.

How does it work?Ask one of the car manufacturer's employees holding a tablet if you can sign up. The employee will tell you how, and follow-up will get you a pass to take to a dealer near you. After you take the test drive and the dealer completes the paperwork, the gift card is mailed within about four weeks.

I haven't heard if the incentives dry up toward the end of the show, but it's common courtesy to show genuine interest in a vehicle before asking for a freebie. If you're a jerk about it, they may choose not to offer you one.