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Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis MinnesotaThe History of Hennepin Square

Early Days
The land that Hennepin Square is built on was first platted by the Minneapolis Industrial Association in 1916. The land was used for spur railroad tracks until it was purchased by Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills in 1921. At the time, Fulton was one of the largest corporations in the United States. The four story factory and office building was completed in 1923 at an estimated cost of $230,000 (that would be about $2.5million in today's dollars). The original building's main entrance faced Hennepin Avenue and there was a tower above it. The mill Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills main entrance on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis Minnesota. produced paper containers and household goods. The Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills Company was plagued by periods of labor disputes. Most notably was the 1914-1915 strike which focused on laborer's growing interest in unionization. Changes in packaging after the Second World War lead to changes in Fulton Bag that eventually led to the break up and sale of the company.

General Mills & Litton Systems
In 1948 General Mills leased the fourth floor of the building to accommodate personnel and for aeronautical research. This research included high altitude balloons under the name Project Skyhook which included the first successful three-balloon cluster which was launched from what is now the parking lot of Hennepin Square. In 1951 General Mills purchased the entire building from Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills who continued to lease space in the building through 1952.

General Mills Lab Hennepin Avenune Minneapolis MinnesotaGeneral Mills' Mechanical Division invented the Ryan Flight Recorder, also known as the "black Box" and worked on construction remote control mechanisms for atomic energy installations. In 1957 General Mills established a digital computer laboratory at Hennepin Square. The building housed the Engineering Research and Development Department and was know as Plant V. Here is where Bud Froehlich put his talents to work and came up with the design for the Sea Pup - the forerunner of the Alvin submarine. Alvin was the first manned deep submersible and General Mills won the contract bid from the Navy in 1962. During the 2 year build of Alvin, the General Mills Aerospace Engineering and Research Department was purchased by Litton Systems who also purchased the building in 1963. Since the sale transferred all facilities, personnel and capabilities involved in the Alvin project, it was seamlessly completed by Litton in 1964.

Hillcrest Development
In the 1960s, the neighborhood around Hennepin Square was all industrial with no office buildings. When Gary Tankenoff of Hillcrest toured the building, top secret cold war era work was being done there and security was tight. Hillcrest development purchased the building from Litton Systems in 1966 with the idea of making it over as a professional office space. At the time, most people thought they were crazy - none of the space had been pre-leased and the project represented a serious risk.

Hillcrest planned to eventually add four stories to the building (for a total of eight) so the structure was beefed up to support eight floors and the underground parking garage was added. Hillcrest purchased the Minneapolis Casket Company building on the far side of the lot with the thought that they would need the space for additional parking. This building was rehabilitated and sold to the YMCA at a later date. The renovation of Hennepin Square began by relocating the main entrance so that it faced the parking lot (as opposed to facing Hennepin Avenue). A new brick overlay exterior was installed along with windows, central air conditioning and an Otis elevator. The floor indicator in the elevator car still reflects the original plan for eight stories. By 1970 the renovation was completed.

With construction was complete, a model office was installed on the first floor. Several restaurants were in Hennepin Square and Hillcrest decided to build a commercial kitchen at their own expense to attract those businesses. The first tenant in that new kitchen was John Rimarck who started the Monte Carlo Restaurant among others. Advertising the building as a "turnkey facility with free parking for all and underground parking for only $25 per month" it took Hillcrest about 2 years to completely fill the building. One of the first notable tenants was Lawson Company that became the huge Lawson Software.

MSP Park Place
Hillcrest Development sold the building to MSP Park Place in June of 1998, they are the current owners. MSP has continued to improve the facility and Hennepin Square continues into the future as the neighborhood's premier professional office space.       

We hope that you will consider Hennepin Square for your office needs.

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