New creations at our old research complex
On July 16, 1930, General Mills’ research department opened for business in unassuming buildings at 2010 East Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, Minn.
Five scientists worked under the direction of Dr. C.H. Bailey, dean of agriculture at the University of Minnesota. These five men concentrated their research on the products of milling.
Fast forward 82 years, to March 9, 2012. That’s when Green Machine Gallery held its grand opening reception in Building 10 at the complex.
Their building also is home to Foci Minnesota Center for Glass Arts (Several other types of businesses also call our former research complex home, as this article points out) and, in a clean, bright studio on the mezzanine level, artists Marlo Cronquist and Nicole Fierce display their beautiful wares inside a giant green hooded ventilation system – nicknamed the Green Machine.
Cronquist and Fierce saw past the 40 years of built-up dirt (General Mills had left the complex completely by 1965) and chose their gallery space because of the big green contraption in the center of the room.
After doing some research, they discovered the connection with General Mills and learned about the research done at the facility. They knew they needed to restore the machine and its cabinets to their original glory and went to work.
The pair spent months working on the space, even going so far as to have the original green paint matched to keep its historic integrity.
“The longer we’re here, the more we learn about the space,” Cronquist says. “It’s amazing the kind of connections people have to this building.”
(Building 10, today)
For instance, the complex boasts what is, reportedly, the first skyway in Minneapolis, and the building’s brick was carefully placed by an Italian bricklayer on his first job in the U.S.
The building is no longer used to make “Ferm-a-Sured” flour, but is instead populated by creative glass artists like Nicole and Marlo who spend their days blowing, slumping and fusing glass in and around ovens that reach up to 2,300 degrees.
“It’s like a dance … an intimate dance,” says Cronquist.
Glass blowing classes are available for kids and adults through Foci, and Green Machine Gallery has open hours as well as appointments available for people to check out and purchase their art and functional glass. Follow their Facebook page for updates on their events and demos.
Editor’s note: The General Mills Archives provided images for this post. You can learn more about our past on GeneralMills.com.
Have a question about General Mills’ history? Send our Archives team an email.