It’s one of the few survivors from the early sksyscraper era - and perhaps the ugliest. Of all the buildings on Hennepin, it’s the least significant; across the street, the Masonic Temple - a near contemporary - is far more intriguing. The Lumber Exchange survived, though; perhaps it was just too big to knock down. It survived a fire, disrepair, neglect . . . it just won’t go away.

It’s a rambling pile in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, built in several phases between 1886 and 1891, with an additional addition in the 80s. First it was a thin sliver on the 5th street side; later came the Hennepin avenue side, which gave it tremendous bulk. I have no idea when the top two floors were added. Nor have I been able to find out why part of the building appears to be another building entirely. The back of the structure has a sign that says EDISON BLDG; my 1917 map of downtown Minneapolis shows an Edison bldg on the site, and the space today hints at a separate lobby and elevator. But if the Edison was a seperate building, you can’t tell from the exterior - it shares the same facade.

Enough mysteries; let's look at what we do know.