Sorting through the rubble of music venues damaged in rioting and looting late Thursday night into early Friday morning, the Hexagon Bar in south Minneapolis was gutted by fire, and the Turf Club in St. Paul was looted and flooded by sprinkler damage.
Rather amazingly, the Hook & Ladder Theatre — which neighbors the destroyed Third Precinct police headquarters at East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue — appears to be structurally intact. However, staff there believe it was broken into and flooded by sprinkler water as well.
Just east of Minnehaha Avenue on Lake, the two-story building that houses El Nuevo Rodeo was gutted by fire. The Latinx dance music hall, in business since the early-'00s, has also been brought up in other news stories as a venue where both George Floyd and the Minneapolis police officer charged with his murder, Derek Chauvin, may have overlapped and met while working security there.
The nearby Schooner Tavern was also looted and suffered modest fire damage, but it is structurally sound, and residents who live above it were safely taken to shelters.
Photos of the Hexagon Bar encased in fire began circulating on social media around 2 a.m. Friday, and by daylight the photos showed it reduced to crumbling brick walls and little else. Reports suggest Memory Lanes, which sits across from the Hex at 26th Street and 26th Avenue South, was not critically damaged.
“A devastating loss to the South Side community,” former Hex bartender Lesley Spaeth told City Pages about the 84 year-old watering hole. “The Hexagon was consistently filled with people of all different walks of life — different ages, different races, different religions.”
At the Turf Club, it appears that rioters broke in the front door and ransacked the First Avenue-owned music haven overnight, damaging a lot of the features inside. Fire damage was not evident, but there was standing water Friday morning from the club’s sprinkler system.
“Either they tried to start it on fire, or the smoke from the neighborhood tripped the alarms,” First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz reported. “But the sprinklers went off at around 1 a.m., and we couldn’t get them turned off until this morning. No idea of the long-term damage, but when I left at 9 a.m. we still had significant levels of standing water.”
First Avenue owner Dayna Frank posted videos showing the Turf Club’s damage later Friday morning, but she contextualized it as property damage vs. human life: “Unfortunately, the Turf was hurt last night,” Frank wrote. “But we’ll rebuild; we’re not dead. You know who’s dead? George Floyd.”
The Turf Club sits near the corner of University and Snelling Avenues in the heart of St. Paul’s Midway area, which was a hotbed of riotous activity Thursday night. No venue was closer to the action in Minneapolis than the Hook & Ladder.
“Still standing as of 6 a.m.,” Patrick Scully, who used to operate Patrick’s Cabaret in the same historic firehouse as the Hook, said in a Facebook post with video of the boarded-up structure Friday morning.
However, Hook & Ladder booker Jackson Buck later reported, "We do know that people broke in, probably looted and vandalized. Our fire sprinkler system has been running since the middle of the night. That much water certainly will cause extensive damage, especially to an old historical building like the Hook."
H&L staff has not been able to access the building yet, as the area was cordoned off by police and National Guard members. Buck glumly added, "Frankly, just because the building still stands, we won’t know if it will survive until a later date."
Across Lake Street from the Hook near the ravaged Cub Foods, the historic Schooner Tavern suffered looting, fire and water damage. However, Schooner manager Ivas Bryn sounded thankful the 20 residents who live above it got out safely after owner Wendy Kremer raised the alarm.
"[They] almost didn't make it out but because Wendy implored 911 to get the fire department in to get them out," Bryn said. "She was up all night working with Red Cross to get them shelter. Thanks to her efforts and musicians and patrons who came to help board up, Schooner Tavern is still standing."
Just east of
Closer to downtown Minneapolis in the West Bank area, Whiskey Junction was also reportedly hit with broken windows and looting, but the neighboring Cabooze remained relatively unscathed. Palmer’s Bar owner Tony Zaccardi reported that his historic hangout also made out OK.