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Minneapolis' Historic Peavey Plaza Falls into Disrepair ...

Minneapolis' Historic Peavey Plaza Falls into Disrepair & Faces Destruction?

There are many factors that weigh into the decision to limit funding for the upkeep of a historic landmark, particularly one significant enough to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Such is the case with Peavey Plaza, located downtown in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg as a

Within Peavey Plaza, looking towards some of the tallest skyscrapers in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

There are many factors that weigh into the decision to limit funding for the upkeep of a historic landmark, particularly one significant enough to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Such is the case with Peavey Plaza, located downtown in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

It was designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg as a sunken plaza and event space in 1975. Located alongside the popular Nicollet Mall Street and directly next to the Minneapolis Orchestra Hall, the main feature of Peavey Plaza is the large reflection pool and elaborate fountain system that circulated water throughout the space.

Today, the future of Peavey Plaza has recently been called into question. Momentum has been building on the possibility of demolishing the historic space to make way for new development that would help revitalize the area. In June 2012, the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and the Cultural Landscape Foundation filed a lawsuit against Minneapolis saying that if they were to redevelop the space, they would be violating Minnesota law. After all, there is a specific law in place protecting historic resources from “pollution, impairment, or destruction.” It was not until January 2014 that Peavey Plaza was actually placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nevertheless, this did help swing the overall lawsuit in favor of protecting the plaza from new development.

Water used to pour over this section of Peavey Plaza, now it remains lifeless.

Unfortunately, that is not where the story ends. The reflection pool has sat void of water for the past two summers and will remain empty this year. Much of the plumbing and interior components of the plaza have aged significantly and are in desperate need of repairs and replacing. Though the space is still commonly used for relaxation and recreation, Peavey Plaza currently stands at a crossroads. It may have won its courtroom battle of protection from the immediate danger of destruction, but it still faces the harsh reality that the City of Minneapolis is simply not willing to put forth the finances necessary for its upkeep. Thus, by remaining largely untouched beyond public use, it will fall into disrepair. It currently remains to be seen if it will be restored and used in the way that it was designed, or if it will be repurposed for new uses without renovation.

Do you think that historic landmarks should be renovated? Are there any cases of this happening or almost happening in your city? Have lawsuits in defense of historic preservation occurred in your community? Share your thoughts and city's stories in the comments area below.

Credits: Images by Wyatt Prosch. Data linked to sources.

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Wyatt Prosch is currently a student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities pursuing a degree in the Bachelor of Design in Architecture. Born and raised in Minnesota, his passion for architecture has been encouraged by the incredible design of th...

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