BY LAURA HALL
Have you ever walked by a majestic old building and wondered about its history? Have you ever stopped and stared at a modern building and been in awe over its creative design and innovation? Or, is there a business or organization in your neighborhood you wished you knew more about? You will have a chance to satisfy all these curiosities at the first Doors Open Minneapolis on May 18-19. One hundred fifteen locations around Minneapolis will be opening their doors to the public for a weekend full of free tours of historical landmarks, cutting-edge buildings, cultural treasures, and readapted buildings.
This event allows the public behind-the-scenes access to buildings in the City of Minneapolis that are architecturally, culturally, or socially significant.
Listed below is a sampling of notable places to visit.
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder Building
Tracey Williams-Dillard, the current publisher of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and the granddaughter of the original founder, Cecil E. Newman, explains how people walk by the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder building every day, but they do not necessarily know what is inside the building.
The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder is a publication that we should all know about. It is the longest running Black-owned newspaper in the state of Minnesota. In 2015, it was named as a local historic landmark and was granted this official title for its involvement in the civil rights movement, its affiliation with historical figures Cecil E. Newman and photographer Gordon Parks, and for being a resource and representative for African Americans in South Minneapolis. And as stated on their website, “For the past 84 years, the MSR has established itself as a trusted voice for the diverse Black communities of Minnesota—championing voices and stories that might otherwise go unheard.”
During Doors Open Minneapolis, visitors will be able to see how the paper is put together and have a look at some of the very early Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder newspapers and photos. Additionally, visitors will be able to see an old style “addressograph,” which was once used for putting labels on their newspapers and which was also operated by the 8-year-old Williams-Dillard when her grandfather was running the newspaper.
3744 4th Ave. S.
Wing Young Huie/The Third Place Gallery
Wing Young Huie—a local photographer and public speaker—opened The Third Place Gallery in May 2011 and breathed new life into a space that had previously sat empty for 47 years. On Wing’s website it states, “The third place is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace.” In Wing’s third place, he connects people through inviting in guest artists, hosting karaoke events, and leading games of ping pong.
In Wing’s gallery, you will also find the photography that has brought him both local and international recognition. His photography captures honest slices of life, featuring people from a diversity of ages, races and cultures. At Doors Open Minneapolis, over a 100 of his photographs will be on display: photos that encompass the last 40 years of his photography career, starting with some of the first photos taken of his parents in Duluth to photographs from his 2018 book, “Chinese-ness.” On his website, Wing describes “Chinese-ness” as “part documentary, part meta-memoir, and part actual memoir.” Through these different angles, he looks at the influences that go into creating personal identities and reflects on what life might have been like for him if he had been on a different life trajectory than that of being a photographer.
3730 Chicago Ave S., Studio B
Mixed Blood Theatre
The building that houses Mixed Blood Theatre has been a place of lively activity since its construction in 1887. Built for use as a fire station, and then later used by a community development organization—which was also the incubator for Mixed Blood Theatre, as Keri Clifton, the chief engagement officer for Mixed Blood Theatre., explains. The current Mixed Blood Theatre, of course, isn’t fighting any physical fires; instead, they are fighting a different type of fire, a metaphorical fire that addresses heated topics in the political, gender, class and racial realm.
To help them continue tackling these heated topics, Mixed Blood Theatre underwent a renovation in 2015. The renovations and the inner workings of the old firehouse will be part of the tour during Doors Open Minneapolis. Some of these inner workings include the firemen’s sleeping quarters, which are now used as a rehearsal hall; original lockers from the firehouse, which are also still in use as storage units in their offices; and the original firehouse windows.
1501 S. 4th St.
For a complete listing of Doors Open Minneapolis locations see https://www.doorsopenminneapolis.org/.