Pillsbury A-Mill Building Artist Lofts
The Pillsbury A-Mill building was erected in 1881 as flour mill. At the time it was the largest flour mill in the United States. The building is a stone structure consisting of Platteville Limestone quarried locally in the river basin. AMR restored the entire exterior facade with special challenges due to the age of the building and stone. Our journeyman stonemasons successfully replicated the original 1881 exterior.
- Replacement of 255 stone sills
- Rebuilding of the top 6 feet of the structure
- 100% Repointing
- Stone replacement
- Window repairs
The Pillsbury A-Mill was erected in 1881 and operated two of the most powerful direct drive waterwheels ever built. It was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1966, one of the earliest registrations, and by coincidence, buildings built in 1966 are now eligible for listing on the National Register. The original purpose of the building was to mill flour and was owned by the familiar Pillsbury Family. Purchased in 2012 by Dominium Management the goal was to take the dilapidated building and turn in to affordable artists’ lofts, preserving the exterior as it originally appeared. The complete exterior restoration of the building was central to the overall project and central to the historic Mill District of Minneapolis.
Scope of Work:
The work consisted of all phases of restoration from masonry, to stone and concrete repair.
Each and every stone mortar joint was removed and replaced on the exterior. The majority of the stone joints were finished as with a struck/doweled joint that was slightly concave, and matched the interior mortar color that was original. When it came to the Main Street Elevation below the revitalized canopy, the joints were repointed with a raised joint using a tool that was fabricated by AMR to match historic photos and records. This was done to show that at one time the entire building may have had this raised joint on it.
Parapet Repair and Removal:
The existing stone was a “Platteville Limestone” multi width construction. The Parapet was removed from the top down six feet, and the attic area above, a new core filled interior block wall was installed and the exterior finish was a “Lannon Pewter Gray Limestone” quarried near Green Bay Wisconsin that was chosen as it matched the existing remaining Platteville Limestone. There was over 1500 square feet of new stone installed on top of the building, along with the block, mortar and rebar to install a new wall.
Stone Sill Replacement:
All of the window sills were removed and replaced with the same Lannon Pewter Gray Limestone. In addition, during the period of significance a concrete wash was installed, and AMR replicated the concrete sills in design and material.
Rebuilding of Windows and stone replacement:
Several windows were rebuilt to original specifications from modifications that were made over the years. AMR successfully restored several arched windows to their original condition.
Cleaning of the building was completed under the auspices of the Secretary of the Interior Standards and no acid containing or other harsh chemical agents were used in the cleaning process.
The Main Street elevation has a bow in it extending out about 6-8 inches across the elevation. Within a few years after it was built, Whalers were installed to keep the building from moving, and on the opposite side concrete bracing was poured to stabilize the building. The concrete was restored by AMR and is visible on the East elevation.
Completion of the project was a little over one year ago, and each added year will enhance the restoration to replicate the original condition.