Description of the Pillsbury Mansion

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100 East 22nd Street, the Charles S. Pillsbury House, was built in 1912. It is English Gothic in style, and was designed by Hewitt & Brown, architects. This house was built for the son of the flour milling company founder at a cost of $300,000. The mansion is built of random-joined gray Bedford limestone and reinforced concrete in an English Gothic architectural style, and loosely incorporated elements of Tudor, Jacobean and Elizabethan architecture. Each floor is delineated by a horizontal string course. The numerous gables have single steps at each of the lower corners. The roof ends are composed of polygonal chimneys rising between twin gables. The polygonal room on the corner is the Conservatory, topped by a parapet featuring bas-relief panels. The interior was designed by Charles Dureen of London, who created an authentic-looking English manor.

Outstanding features of the building’s exterior include: a symmetrical facade with matching gables at each side, and an oriel (or second story window) above the entryway. The tall stone pillars at the entrance are surmounted by two slated lions with shields. There is a two-and-a-half story entrance bay with a round-arched door and large leaded glass windows. At one corner of the building, a single story polygonal bay with grouped windows is topped by a parapet wall. The roof is of the broadside gabled type, and numerous secondary gables occur around the structure.

The interior of the building was designed by Charles Duveen of London and incorporates many antiquities. Some of the many features of note are painted-glass medallions from 17th century European churches and castles integrated into many of the large leaded glass windows, molded and carved plaster ceilings, imported oak paneling from English castles, pegged teakwood floors, and a hand-carved central staircase from an English castle. The massive carved oak fireplace to the right of the entry hall is from a castle in Shropshire, England, and the sculptured stone fireplace in the library is from the Guildhall in Chester, England and dates from the Great Fire of London in 1660. The second floor which formerly contained bedrooms, dressing rooms and closets, is now used for classrooms and offices and there is a large open space which was used as a ballroom on the third floor. It was occupied by family members until Charles’ death in 1939 and since then has been used by the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts and the Guthrie Theatre before its acquisition by BLIND, Incorporated in 1993.

The Charles S. Pillsbury residence is on the national register of historic buildings. It was built by Hewitt and Brown. As a prominent Twin Cities historic site, it is protected by the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission.

Lawrence A. Martin, Minneapolis, MN 11/20/2001

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