• Minneapolis

TBT: Colonial Warehouse, playing a critical role in Minneapolis’s transportation history

Welcome to #TBT or “Throwback Thursday,” a regular feature that highlights historic properties in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Market.

Building Address: 212 Third Ave N., Minneapolis
Year Opened: 1885
Neighborhood: North Loop


Built at a time when the 12-story Lumber Exchange building was the tallest structure in Minneapolis, the Colonial Warehouse is an ode to a much different time in the city.

The building has played a critical role in the story of Minneapolis transportation. It was originally constructed as a three-story horsecar barn storage facility and shop for Minneapolis Street Railway Company. In 1890, the property was converted into the first electric powerhouse for streetcars.

In 1908, a grocery wholesaler purchased the building, expanded it by two floors, which even today are nearly indistinguishable from the original structure. The grocery company was later purchased by Jordan Stevens Company, and Colonial Warehouse remained under use as a warehouse for decades.

Colonial Warehouse, seen here in the early 1980s, has been restored into a vibrant hub for creative office space and retail. (Photo courtesy of Hennepin County Library)

It wasn’t until 1995 when the building’s current owner launched a massive renovation, repositioning the property as a multi-tenant office and retail space.

Today, the 200,000-square-foot (sf) building is known for its exposed brick walls, wood beams, high ceilings and original two-story arched bay windows, all of which help distinguish the building among its many historic peers in Minneapolis’s Warehouse District. At the corner of Third Avenue North and Second Street North, just a half-block north of Washington Avenue, the property is also in the heart of vibrant North Loop neighborhood, within walking distance of many popular restaurants and breweries, as well as Target Field.

Martin Patrick 3, a retailer gaining a national reputation, is among the many first-floor shops at Colonial Warehouse.

Visitors to the building today know the building for uses far more interesting than horsecar barn storage or wholesale grocery. Colonial Warehouse’s popular retail tenant list includes Martin Patrick 3, a fine apparel shop, Grethen House, and Moose & Sadie’s, a modern local neighborhood café.

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