Pillsbury A Mill

Taken in Minneapolis, MN. From the mid 1800s for about 50 years this city was also known as ‘Mill City’. This is a four image panorama that I could not straighten without losing lots of the edges so I just left it this way. At one time this was the largest flour mill in the world. It has now been re-purposed into artists’ lofts.

The Pillsbury A-Mill, situated along Saint Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota, held the title of largest flour mill in the world for 40 years. Completed in 1881, it was owned by Pillsbury and operated two of the most powerful direct-drive waterwheels ever built, each generating 1,200 horsepower (895 kW). The mill still stands today on the east side of the Mississippi River and has been converted into resident artist lofts. In 1879, after five years of secret planning, Charles Alfred Pillsbury announced to the public that he would build the largest and most advanced mill the world had ever seen. He had traveled to mills all over the world, searching for the best technique for milling flour on a large scale. Despite the convention of the time, Pillsbury decided that he wanted his new mill to be designed by an architect in order to make the building visually appealing. Architect LeRoy S. Buffington, with the loose advice of several engineers, carried out the design. Construction started in 1880 and was finished in 1881 under a contractor named George McMullen. The mill was built to put out 5,000 barrels a day when at a time when a 500-barrel mill was considered large. For some years the mill was not run at its intended capacity. Part of the building was used as a warehouse and other purposes.
The front of the mill in 2010, showing the bows in the wall and the reinforcements
Reinforcements at the back of the mill, in 2003

Due to vibrations of milling machines and poor design in 1905 the mill was fortified and certain sections were rebuilt. To this day, the walls bow inward 22 inches (560 mm) on the top. Unlike other similarly large mills in the area, most notably the Washburn A Mill, the Pillsbury A Mill never exploded or caught fire. As a result, it still contains its original wood frame.

In 2013, a Plymouth, Minnesota based developer, Dominium, gained approval for a $100 million renovations plan to transform the A-Mill into 251 affordable live/work artist lofts. The exterior of the mill remained intact to preserve the historical architecture of the building, such as the silos. However, major changes were made to the interior of the mill and the courtyard that connect the multiple buildings. . The overall project ended up costing $175 million, and incorporated a hydro-electric turbine turned by river water running through the tunnel that served the original milling equipment. . Due to the significant investment made in sustainable features such as the hydrothermal system using river water, and the hydro-electric turbine providing 75% of the buildng’s energy needs, the project achieved LEED Gold Certification in 2017. [Wikipedia]