Loop Back: Home Improvements
Built in 1916 for the Maytag Company of Iowa–when it was still best-known as a farm machinery manufacturer, this four-story warehouse and showroom would ultimately become a key regional branch for household appliance sales.
Maytag had begun selling motorized washing machines around 1910, and they were so popular, the company dropped its farm implement line in the 1920s and started focusing entirely on appliances. The washing machines offered a faster and more efficient way of doing laundry than the traditional hand-scrubbing. And to help wring out the water without damaging buttons, Maytag introduced a soft roller/firm roller combination in 1928 which owners would use before hanging their clothes out to dry.
The warehouse and offices at 515 North Washington were listed as Maytag Sales Corporation’s “permanent Northwestern factory branch” in newspaper ads. But after 44 years, the company moved its operations in 1960 to another facility in St. Louis Park, near the corner of Highway 100 and Cedar Lake Road.
That was right about the same time that one of the city’s oldest hardware stores, Gardner Hardware (founded in 1884), was being forced out of its downtown location at 3rd and Nicollet, because the city was about to demolish the building as part of urban renewal. The family-run company found a successful new home in the North Loop, operating here for 55 years before finally closing in 2015.
This handsome building, with golden brown glazed brick along the front, was designed by prominent architect Christopher Boehme who also designed the stylish mansion now known as the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis and the downtown Gluek building.
The Maytag building underwent a $13 million renovation in 2016 to create new office space as well as a restaurant and bars (Nolo’s Kitchen, The Basement Bar and The Rooftop Bar). And we could once again see the words in etched stone above the entrance “The Maytag Co” which had been covered up for decades by the Gardner signs.
We have several more pages of neighborhood history in our Historic North Loop section.
By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer