Orth Fights Back!


The Mighty Bricks!

It was a cold and windy February 25th, 2015.
After a two year fight to save the Theron Potter Healy designed and built Orth House, a neighbors email notified us that it was demolition day. The big yellow tyrannosaurus rex was already growling and surging forward, its iron teeth ripping and rending into the wood of the Edward Orth house when I arrived.

The sun was bright but not warm.
It was raining sawdust. The splinters sparkled and exploded. A cloud of some said lead dust issued forth in toxic plumes. The workers, one a skinny guy in worn out jeans, and the chunky driver of the backhoe of death were covered with the dust.

A few of the advocates for the Orth house arrived and departed, unable to watch. Two served as witnesses, recorders and honor guard for the death of the great house.

The battle to save Orth had been difficult, politically contentious. All involved were challenged, traumatized and damaged in the fight. Another battle scar another death internalized another loss we’d never really recover from.

The engine surged the head and neck of the backhoe swung round, it smashed and pounded. The sounds resonated back from the surrounding houses, silent witnesses to the deathof one of their neighboring structure. Glass and metal shattered, the violent motionsand sounds of rending, crunching, and devouring violence continued as the strong aroma of old wood was released the splinters of sawdust swirled in vortexes
generated by the wind and covered our coats.

We kept recording. At one point as the backhoe of death ascended the debris and lifted its neck and head and opened its jagged iron teeth near the tall ornamental brick chimneythat had been a part of the house since 1893, Ezra Gray commented that we might have to be ready to run if the bricks came our way.

The teeth bit into the brick and shook the chimney…layers of ashes (or as I thought the spirit and soul of the house) expelled a dying breath of white smoke.

The bricks burst apart and fell on the backhoe…the operator deactivated the beast for a moment and he and his miserable coworker examined the backhoe for damage.

Someone commented that she wished that just once a house would fall on one ofthe backhoes (not the workers) and kill IT in just retribution.

Farkitecture Follies Award #3 Developer greed and tired old men who wrecked anhistoric treasure that could have been preserved in the heart of the Lowry Hill East neighborhoodto build apartments that look like all others and are not needed out of materials that won’tlast 50 years.

And Now a Word From our Sponsor

Developers begone. Our Easter morning Dawns!

Stop the Presses


The final days of the Minneapolis Star Tribune buildings are here as the intrepid army of destruction from Veit empty the buildings of what was left behind and dig massive trenches in the street to facilitate the epic demolitions of buildings so large, they may require implosion to be rid of just as the nearby metrodome did.

I’d link to the CPED “staff” report that provides some history of OUR NEWSPAPER’s building…perhaps later, as “Dr. Demolition” like the precision missile he is, advocated for their destruction serving his function as a Uriah Heep cog in an exacting bureaucratic machine owned and operated by the rich and powerful entirely in the service of their personal profit, entirely at the detriment of the quality of life, heritage and culture of our City.

As their peers have done in Iran, Russia, China and other totalitarian regimes the developers who acquired the buildings deliberately and viciously defaced them, hacking off the medallions showing the six primary industries of Minnesota sculpted by Ivan Dossef and hauled them off somewhere. Then they jackhammered the pure white Indiana limestone boldly heroic letters “Star and Tribune” from the front facade of the building and threw the shattered remnants in a dumpster.

Add to this millions of photographs and negatives (some of which were scanned all of which are not available to the public) were sent to a fellow who’s only interest was in the sports photos. Unique images of over a century of our history vanished into a mysterious somewhere, hopefully they are not still in the buildings
about to be destroyed. The bastards have even ceased to fly the American Flag.

All hail and honor to journalists, the source of truth, the advocates for justice, and your colleagues who capture powerful images.

Farkitecture Follies award #2 Stadiums, Banks, Developers and Politicans take revenge on those who revealed the rotten core of who they are and what they do by destroying the heroic art moderne home of journalism!

Spoiled Affluence Evicts Art


Welcome Historic Preservation Month 2015! And another round of Farkitecture Follies awards for those who are destroying the historic buildings and residential neighborhoods of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Dracarys! one and all.

First up:
the Handicraft Guild building and its addition. According to Marcia Anderson, who was the head of collections and curator of manuscripts at the Minnesota Historical Society, Emma Roberts and eleven women artists received funds to build a building on 10th Street South in downtown Minneapolis, dedicated to training teachers in arts education and providing apprenticeships, classes, studios and opportunities for artists to sell their work to the public. The Architect was William Channing Whitney. The builder Horace Leighton. The Guild was so successful that they built an addition in 1914 designed by Edwin Hewitt and his colleague Edwin Brown on Marquette Avenue. Ernest Batchelder designed a tile entryway. A state of the art skylight system illuminated the interior. Arts and Crafts staircases, paneling, windows and doors provided an environment of architectural beauty that inspired artistic achievement.

If these buildings were designed today, they would receive awards in Green Architecture and Sustainable Design.

Artists have worked in these buildings since they were built and continue to work and live there today.

Instead they will be destroyed. The addition(which was built on an entire City block 10th and Marquette and a neighboring building 1016) will be demolished and replaced by eighteen floors of cool hip COZE micro apartments for the spoiled affluent children of the suburbs who have plenty of other identical apartments to be cool and hip in for the ten minutes they’ll live there.

The Artists collective and violin shops will be evicted, the exterior of the surviving Handicraft building tuckpointed and defaced with a big ugly sign….it’s interior gutted for a “health club” and “concierge service” for the spoiled affluents who will never be there.

Our City needs unique historic buildings, places for artists, small businesses for independent enterepreneurs, but apparently it needs filthy developer lucre and yet another building that is a clone of dozens of others courting the money of the spoiled affluents and their parents until they return to the suburbs from whence they came.

Farkitecture Follies Award #1 Spoiled Affluence Evicts Industrious Art and Independent Enterpreneurs as an irreplaceable unique Arts and Crafts architectural masterwork is destroyed.

A War Which No One Wins

Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least, but it has been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five minutes without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. Innumerable children have been born into the cause; innumerable young people have married into it; innumerable old people have died out of it. Scores of persons have deliriously found themselves made parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce without knowing how or why; whole families have inherited legendary hatreds with the suit. The little plaintiff or defendant who was promised a new rocking-horse when Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be settled has grown up, possessed himself of a real horse, and trotted away into the other world. Fair wards of court have faded into mothers and grandmothers; a long procession of Chancellors has come in and gone out; the legion of bills in the suit have been transformed into mere bills of mortality; there are not three Jarndyces left upon the earth perhaps since old Tom Jarndyce in despair blew his brains out at a coffee-house in Chancery Lane; but Jarndyce and Jarndyce still drags its dreary length before the court, perennially hopeless.

When we had been there half an hour or so, the case in progress—if I may use a phrase so ridiculous in such a connexion—seemed to die out of its own vapidity, without coming, or being by anybody expected to come, to any result. The Lord Chancellor then threw down a bundle of papers from his desk to the gentlemen below him, and somebody said, “Jarndyce and Jarndyce.” Upon this there was a buzz, and a laugh, and a general withdrawal of the bystanders, and a bringing in of great heaps, and piles, and bags and bags full of papers.

I think it came on “for further directions”—about some bill of costs, to the best of my understanding, which was confused enough. But I counted twenty-three gentlemen in wigs who said they were “in it,” and none of them appeared to understand it much better than I. They chatted about it with the Lord Chancellor, and contradicted and explained among themselves, and some of them said it was this way, and some of them said it was that way, and some of them jocosely proposed to read huge volumes of affidavits, and there was more buzzing and laughing, and everybody concerned was in a state of idle entertainment, and nothing could be made of it by anybody. After an hour or so of this, and a good many speeches being begun and cut short, it was “referred back for the present,” as Mr. Kenge said, and the papers were bundled up again before the clerks had finished bringing them in.

what shall we find reasonable in Jarndyce and Jarndyce! Unreason and injustice at the top, unreason and injustice at the heart and at the bottom, unreason and injustice from beginning to end—if it ever has an end

“Another secret, my dear. I have added to my collection of birds.”

“Really, Miss Flite?” said I, knowing how it pleased her to have her confidence received with an appearance of interest.

She nodded several times, and her face became overcast and gloomy. “Two more. I call them the Wards in Jarndyce. They are caged up with all the others. With Hope, Joy, Youth, Peace, Rest, Life, Dust, Ashes, Waste, Want, Ruin, Despair, Madness, Death, Cunning, Folly, Words, Wigs, Rags, Sheepskin, Plunder, Precedent, Jargon, Gammon, and Spinach!”

We asked a gentleman by us if he knew what cause was on. He told us Jarndyce and Jarndyce. We asked him if he knew what was doing in it. He said really, no he did not, nobody ever did, but as well as he could make out, it was over. Over for the day? we asked him. No, he said, over for good.

Over for good!

When we heard this unaccountable answer, we looked at one another quite lost in amazement. Could it be possible that the will had set things right at last and that Richard and Ada were going to be rich? It seemed too good to be true. Alas it was!

Our suspense was short, for a break-up soon took place in the crowd, and the people came streaming out looking flushed and hot and bringing a quantity of bad air with them. Still they were all exceedingly amused and were more like people coming out from a farce or a juggler than from a court of justice. We stood aside, watching for any countenance we knew, and presently great bundles of paper began to be carried out—bundles in bags, bundles too large to be got into any bags, immense masses of papers of all shapes and no shapes, which the bearers staggered under, and threw down for the time being, anyhow, on the Hall pavement, while they went back to bring out more. Even these clerks were laughing. We glanced at the papers, and seeing Jarndyce and Jarndyce everywhere, asked an official-looking person who was standing in the midst of them whether the cause was over. Yes, he said, it was all up with it at last, and burst out laughing too.

“Very well indeed, sir,” returned Mr. Kenge with a certain condescending laugh he had. “Very well! You are further to reflect, Mr. Woodcourt,” becoming dignified almost to severity, “that on the numerous difficulties, contingencies, masterly fictions, and forms of procedure in this great cause, there has been expended study, ability, eloquence, knowledge, intellect, Mr. Woodcourt, high intellect. For many years, the—a—I would say the flower of the bar, and the—a—I would presume to add, the matured autumnal fruits of the woolsack—have been lavished upon Jarndyce and Jarndyce. If the public have the benefit, and if the country have the adornment, of this great grasp, it must be paid for in money or money’s worth, sir.”

“Mr. Kenge,” said Allan, appearing enlightened all in a moment. “Excuse me, our time presses.

Do I understand that the whole estate is found to have been absorbed in costs?”

“Hem! I believe so,” returned Mr. Kenge. “Mr. Vholes, what do YOU say?”

“I believe so,” said Mr. Vholes.

“And that thus the suit lapses and melts away?”

“Probably,” returned Mr. Kenge. “Mr. Vholes?”

“Probably,” said Mr. Vholes.

When all was still, at a late hour, poor crazed Miss Flite came weeping to me and told me she had given her birds their liberty.

from Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Courtesy Contempt

From: Jenkins, Andrea D.
Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 10:04 AM
To: MplsCANDO@gmail.com
Cc: Glidden, Elizabeth A.Subject: 3009 Park Avenue South

Courtesy notice of debris removal at 3009 Park Avenue South, Minneapolis

Debris removal at the Pauline Fjelde Residence at 3009 Park Avenue will begin next Monday morning, February 8, 2010 at 7:30 a.m. The City of Minneapolis is contracting with Veit Construction to carry out the operation. Members of the public will not be allowed on site during the demolition operation, but may observe from offsite locations. A staff member from the CPED-Preservation and Design team will be at the site and in direct communication with the wrecking contractor throughout the debris removal operation. If necessary, and with the express permission of Veit, CPED staff may be allowed on site periodically to examine debris for items of possible historical value as specifically relates to the life of Pauline Fjelde.

Veit will have control of the demolition site throughout the operation and have all authority to determine who may have access to the site including the property owner and/or City staff. A representative of 8th Ward Council member Elizabeth Glidden will also be in attendance so that he/she can convey information from the public to CPED staff. If items of possible historical significance are found amid the debris, some or all of them may be transported off site and stored by the City of Minneapolis for subsequent evaluation of authenticity and historic value.

If such an evaluation is needed, it will be conducted in conjunction with the property owner. Items salvaged form the site will remain the property of the current property owner unless and until other arrangements are made between the property owner and the City of Minneapolis at some future date. No such arrangements will be considered at the site during debris removal.

A summary of the day’s proceedings will be made to the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission at their regularly scheduled meeting of February 16th, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 317 City Hall.

This activity does not require formal legal notice. This notice is being sent as a courtesy extended by the City of Minneapolis to neighborhood and preservation representatives. Legal notice of the upcoming HPC meeting is sent separately using the standard procedures defined in the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances.

Further questions can be addressed to John Smoley, CPED-Preservation and Design.

Andrea Jenkins
Senior Policy Aide
Office of Elizabeth Glidden
8th Ward City Council Office
350 5th Street South
Minnepolis, MN 55407
(612) 673-2208
(612) 673-3569 Direct
(612) 673-3940 Fax

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I remember a sleepless night working on protest signs. 2010 was a winter like this one, (2014) with endless snow and mountainous snow banks. I recall planting myself and my signs in a snowbank as yet another snow fall slowed the traffic on Park Avenue to an ideal speed for viewing them. A minivan was parked nearby. Until the Schoffman’s attorney Daniel Kennedy got out and crossed the street to speak to the City employees who were there to “observe” Jack Byers, Aaron Hanauer and aspiring HPC commissioner and one time Fjelde advocate Susan Hunter Wier…I did not realize that the Schoffmans…or at least Jim Schoffman was also in the minivan.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden briefly visited the site.

The same Veit backhoe that had destroyed the house plunged into the debris, lifted it up in its jaws and then regurgitated a stream of unidentifiable debris. Since everything was too absolutely shattered to begin with, this charade was pointless. Why Aaron Hanauer who had initially been assigned as the staff for the Fjelde house was an observer instead of John Smoley was a mystery.

A letter from Daniel Kennedy complained of John Smoley’s temporary removal from the case and expressed an affectionate preference for him.

The dig and dump went on for about 45 minutes, I and my signs slipped and slided in the snowbank. A layer of snow covered me and infiltrated my shoes. The employees from the nearby Car Wash pelted me with a snow stream from their snowblower and laughed.

All of the Fjelde advocates were smarter than I — they were elsewhere.

As the Schoffman’s minivan departed, Jim Schoffman rolled down his window and said, “Show’s Over.”

He was almost right. Later that day, the remains of the Pauline Fjelde house would be scooped up and deposited in a fleet of trucks that took the house to a sorting facility in Becker Minnesota where any recyclable metals the scavengers hadn’t extracted would be removed. What was left would be transported down a long, barren concrete road in a funeral procession toward the vast Becker landfill to be layered upon layered of debris and earth. A truly horrible place at the end of the world and beginning of nightmares, burial mounds as far as sight could perceive. An old house cemetery resounding with the sorrowful mourning and angry songs of generations ghosts.

The City’s “historic landmark designation” process for the Fjelde house was still barely breathing in the bureaucratic engine with a few cogs left to turn and a few arses left to ineffectually cover before the death of the Pauline Fjelde house was signed, sealed, delivered, rubber stamped and archived in the Clock Tower.
Gone but not forgotten. Never forgotten.

A Frozen Requiem

January 2010 was as all Januarys are in Minnesota, icy, dark and bitter.

Smothered in blankets of blazing white.

After the emotions of the Christmas Eve demolition of the Pauline Fjelde house and the drama of the hearings, everything seemed unraveled and broken.

I went to the site and saw a mountain of snow covered debris. There were layers of familiar yet unidentifiable remains from the brutal destruction of the Veit backhoe.

They’d had orders to smash everything into fodder for the landfill. They did. Although some of the Fjelde advocates demanded that an attempt to salvage any items that might remain intact from the remains, it was clear that nothing could or would be saved.

It was too late.

The conflict between the Fjelde advocates, the Schoffman’s, their attorney and City employees, some of who had worked cooperatively with them, and others who had a duty to follow “the process” to its end…had lost its purpose and was more out of habit and mutual enmity.

On January 11, 2010 there was a meeting at Sabathani Community Center which provided an opportunity for the Fjelde advocates and City councilpersons and City employees to continue the discussion about the Fjelde house’s demolition begun at the December 29, 2009 Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission hearings.

John Smoley in one of his reports, summarized the discussion:

On January 11, 2010 Ward 8 Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden; Preservation and Design
staff; and Regulatory Services staff met with members of the public to answer questions
regarding the decision to demolish 3009 Park Avenue and to seek input on salvage and
mitigation. Approximately 11 members of the public in attendance recommended
consideration of the following options:

1. Install a garden to prevent construction of a parking lot onsite;
2. Install a monument onsite;
3. Install a flagpole onsite;
4. Be mindful of monument details to ensure it does not look like a tombstone;
5. Ensure any mitigation does not convey the impression that mitigation is a suitable
substitute for the preservation of a building;
6. Salvage corbels or other architectural details, the trunk, original decorative wood
elements, and entryway tiles;
7. Commission a record of Pauline Fjelde’s life and the residence at 3009 Park Avenue;
8. Explore ways to prevent this from happening in the future, by perhaps creating a special
exception for condemning properties under interim protection.

I recall that a surprising selection of the City’s players in the event were present.
Tom Deegan, Rocco Forte, Patrick Higgins, Henry Reimer, Jack Byers, John Smoley, and
Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden.

Most of the Fjelde advocates and some concerned citizens from the Central neighborhood were there.
The Schoffman’s and their attorney were not.

The September fire and the engineering report was discussed and comparisons were made to the Gustavus Adolphus II building that had also been demolished in December.

Angry words were exchanged, emotions were still volatile…all resolved to explore reforms that would  prevent any other buildings from suffering the same fate as the Fjelde house. Whether the resolve to reform made progress or vanished in the cold grey dawn of political reality and the forward momentum of “new business” is unknown.

The idea of the salvage and mitigation effort continued to be lobbied for by the Fjelde advocates as well as the idea that the Pauline Fjelde house could become a historic landmark post-mortem still  provided some ephemeral hope that lingered in the air then vanished the moment the meeting ended.

As I left I noticed two of the “senior preservation lions” Bob Glancy and Diane Montgomery looking at an intimidating pile of documents and emails…(some redacted) on the Fjelde house which they had requested through the City of Minneapolis’ Data Practices process.

As the grief and sense of loss remained intense, the advocates began to move on and focus on other issues.

Some even left town for awhile.

During February a “Courtesy Notice” email was sent out announcing a salvage operation.
There was also a changing of the guard in the City staff assigned to the case.