Iconic Lumber Exchange Building getting new life

- From the entrance to the antique light fixtures, the Lumber Exchange Building is full of pieces of the past. But one of the oldest buildings in Minneapolis is getting some new life.

"It was the considered the tallest building outside New York at the time,” said Deepak Nath, co-owner of The Pourhouse, a bar inside the Lumber Exchange. “A rich history throughout the decades. A lot of stories the walls could tell."

When the Lumber Exchange Building was built in 1885 at 11 stories tall; it was the city's first skyscraper.

Over the years, it has been home to everything from a market for buying and selling lumber to a bank to a barber shop, which was reportedly used as an alibi by notorious Minneapolis gangster Kid Cann to get off on murder charges.

"At his trial he said he couldn't have done it because he was getting his manicure and a shave at his barber, very common for men in the 30s to do that,” said Nath. “A couple of other gangsters in the 30s used the exact same barber with the exact same excuse and all got off on their charges of murder or what not."

Over the past few years, the owners of The Pourhouse have been renovating the first three floors to keep some of the historic touches. It has the original outside wall in the atrium of the event center and the vault’s now used for storage and a photo booth. Still in the basement is the marble floor, which was part of a Turkish bathhouse at the turn of the 20th century. 

"It’s a great asset to have and it would be a shame not to highlight and utilize that,” he said.

As interesting as its past has been, the Lumber Exchange Building is also looking to the future. It will be home to several big events for the Super Bowl in February.

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