They came together in a sleek, modern microbrewery that had been carved out of a 1958 warehouse — avid Instagrammers, amateur photographers, beer drinkers and … preservationists?

Yeah, that’s right.

“These people are preservationists,” said Claire VanderEyk. “They just don’t know it yet."

Preserve Minneapolis, a nonprofit that VanderEyk volunteers for, recently teamed up with @MNCommunity, an Instagram page dedicated to staging meet-ups and organizing an online community. The two organizations hope to introduce a new generation of people to the state’s olden, golden architectural gems and “help spread the preservation gospel,” said VanderEyk.

That’s why she and a group of iPhone-toting Minneapolitans met for a tour of Inbound Brewco’s month-old microbrewery in the North Loop, a few blocks from Target Field. It was the seventh preservation-minded meet-up put on by Preserve Minneapolis and @MNCommunity.

Before it was a brewery, the building at 701 N. 5th St. was a warehouse for dumpsters. Before Instagram, the photo-centric smartphone app, preservationists had a hard time attracting young people to their cause. But the old and new blended seamlessly at Inbound Brewco, along with the sound of beer being poured, the fake “click” of iPhones’ shutters and the quiet deliberations that accompany thoughtful selection of which Instagram filter to use.

Instameet attendee McCall Milbrandt was clearly in the early stages of preservation conversion. She admired the area’s old brick structures. “I’m attracted to North Loop,” she said. But she was clear about why she was there. “I came for the beer first.”

Beer wasn’t the main draw for Jessica Dudas, who’s known by her handle @MrsJDudas. She’s one of the creators of @MNCommunity. Dudas and a friend she made through Instagram, Rachel Ewell, created the page about a year ago when they realized Instagram could be used to create an online space for Minnesotans to get together around shared interests, she said.

The page has allowed Dudas, Ewell and those who keep up with @MNCommunity’s movements a peek behind the curtains of some notable buildings, Dudas said.

They’ve been invited into the archives of the Minnesota History Center, seen a dress rehearsal at Cedar-Riverside’s Southern Theater and toured the Glensheen Historic Estate in Duluth.

This time around, they and @MNCommunity’s followers met beneath the shadows cast by giant tanks of beer as Inbound co-owner John Messier talked about the building’s transformation from warehouse to hip microbrewery.

It would have been cheaper to build new than to renovate, Messier admitted. Still, he was pleased with the adaptive re-use of the building.

Messier explained that during the renovation, workers removed 3 inches of soot to discover that the building had concrete floors embedded in some places with railroad tracks. They even found an old handgun.

“The police took that one,” he said, adding that he would have liked to have kept it as a souvenir.

While the event was a success — two lucky raffle winners walked out with growlers of Inbound Brew — it was just another installment in Minneapolis’ preservation proselytization.


Barry Lytton is a freelance writer.