A venerable Minneapolis business is going to get some official recognition as it completes its 80th year.
That’s the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, which is on the cusp of winning local historic preservation designation from the city for its building at 3744 4th Av. S. The weekly newspaper claims to be the state’s longest-lived black-owned business.
The designation, which goes before the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission on July 28, would likely get City Council approval in September.
“This is what you might call a slam-dunk historic designation,” said Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who requested the study leading to the proposed designation of the Spokesman-Recorder building at 3744 4th Av. S.
She’s also in the early stages of pursuing similar designation for the Arthur and Edith Lee house. That property earlier won addition to the National Register of Historic Places for its role in a 1931 standoff over white resistance to a black family moving to 4600 Columbus Av. S. Minneapolis has had fewer sites associated with black history on the national register than St. Paul.
The Spokesman-Recorder was established in 1934 by noted publisher Cecil Newman, a one-time Pullman porter. It had at least two downtown offices before moving to its current location to occupy a newly built building in 1958, according to Newman’s granddaughter, Tracey Williams-Dillard, CEO and publisher.
Although architecturally plain, the building is being nominated primarily for its association with the 20th century civil rights movement and with Newman, who worked with a string of white DFL politicians on civil rights issues. The newspaper also produced such prominent black journalists as photographer Gordon Parks and columnist Carl Rowan.
Newman lived four blocks north of his office in the Central neighborhood. There’s a one block section of E. 29th Street that’s named for him between Nicollet and 1st Avenues.
Until 2009, separate Minneapolis Spokesman and St. Paul Recorder editions were published. There's also an online news site.
The nomination called the Spokesman-Recorder a platform to amplify the concerns of thw black communities in the Twin Cities.
Besides the designation, other plans for the Spokesman-Recorder’s 80th anniversary include a boat cruise on the St. Croix, featuring The Steeles as entertainment. The reservation deadline is Friday More details are available here. A community celebration is being planned for September, Williams Dillard said.
(Photo above: Publisher Cecil Newman in his office with a younger Walter Mondale, then a U.S. senator, in 1967.)