Flashback Friday: 90 years ago, the Foshay Tower was formally dedicated in Minneapolis

Updated: August 30, 2019 08:58 AM

The video above is courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society from the grand opening of the Foshay Tower in 1929. 

Ninety years ago, the Foshay Tower opened and it has been a vital part of the Minneapolis skyline since. It was formally dedicated Aug. 30 to Sept. 1, 1929.


According to Minnesota Encylopedia, when it was built, the 32-story tower was the tallest building between Chicago and the West Coast. In the 1970s and 1980s, much taller skyscrapers were built, but the attractive Foshay Tower remained a crowning glory of Minnesota architecture. 

Minneapolis businessman Wilbur B. Foshay was responsible for this landmark. He arrived in Minneapolis in 1915 to work for a local manufacturer of electric-light poles and telephone poles. Then in 1917, he incorporated the W.B. Foshay Company in the city. He and his company went on a spending spree, buying utilities in 30 states, Alaska (which would not become a state until 1958), Canada and Central America, according to historical records. 

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In the 1920s, the skyscraper was known as a dominant form of urban corporate architecture. Foshay needed a headquarters for his growing company, so he decided to build his own. He told reporters back then he was inspired by the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. 

Construction began in 1928 and finished up in the summer of 1929, according to Minnesota Encyclopedia. The tower's overall costs summed up to $4,409,633.82. When the Foshay Tower was complete, it rose just over 447 feet tall in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. 

The tower also was built on an existing two-story structure, which formed the base of the new skyscraper. Foshay celebrated the opening of the tower with a three-day event that ran from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1, 1929. It featured fireworks, dancing girls and religious services.

The stock market crash in October 1929 bankrupted Foshay and his enterprises. 

The tower has since changed ownership multiple times. When other downtown buildings were torn down, the Foshay Tower remained. According to Minnesota Encyclopedia, in 1978, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. 

The tower was renovated in 2006 to fix wear and tear issues of the aging building. Then in 2008, the refurbished Foshay Tower reopened as the W Minneapolis-The Foshay, a 230-room hotel.

According to historical records, Ashford Hospitality Trust purchased the Foshay Tower for $86 million on Nov. 10, 2015.

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Tommy Wiita

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