History of PVN's Home at 575 9th Street SE

This month marks PVN’s one year anniversary in our office space at 575 9th Street SE in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood of Minneapolis. The 575 Building is a sprawling, piecemeal, industrial complex and hypothesizing about its origins has been a preoccupation of our staff ever since our move. Recently we had the chance to track down the real story.

The original portion of 575 9th Street SE was constructed in 1910 by G.H. Tennant Company, a local business that readers may be familiar with in its later incarnation as a leading manufacturer and distributer of cleaning machines. The Tennant Company was first founded in 1870 by George Henry Tennant; during the company’s early years it manufactured a number of specialized wood products for homeowners including: flooring, rain gutters, and downspouts. By the time that Tennant Company moved to 575 9th Street SE, it had gained a reputation for producing high quality wood flooring, which was reported to be a popular choice for installation in the homes of many wealthy Minneapolitans.

Over the following 20 years, Tennant Company grew steadily and, in addition to hardwood flooring, produced a line of wood silos, as well as cream coolers, and Armor Klad milk bottle cases (as seen at left).

In the 1910s, Tennant Company began experimenting with motorized floor cleaning equipment. In 1947, Tennant Company developed the first vaccumized floor sweeper with industrial capabilities, an event that dramatically changed the face of the business. Literature published by the Tennant Company notes that the sweeper “ultimately produced a revolution in the maintenance field by 1) largely replacing push-broom sweeping; 2) dramatically changing floor-cleaning techniques; 3) reducing air-borne dust and; 4) improving plant working conditions.”[1] This invention set Tennant Company on a fast-paced growth trajectory and in 1957 they moved from 575 9th Street SE to a new headquarters in Golden Valley, Minnesota, where the company is still housed today.

In the field of historic preservation, and as an architectural historian myself, we often imagine "if walls could talk..." It turns out that the walls of 575 9th Street SE can, indeed, share its past with some deliberate searching in historical archives and online repositories. Here at PVN, we bring unique research skills and our specialized expertise to understand the historic significance of a property. As was the case with our office space, we extracted the story from its walls. 

Additional information about the Tennant Company can be found at Hennepin Country Library James K. Hosmer Special Collections and at the Tennant Company’s website.

Photo Citations:

  1.  NA

  2. “Minneapolis, Minnesota,” sheet 909, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, 1912.

  3. Advertisement for Tennant Company wood silo. Willmar Tribune, March 15, 1916.

  4. Motorized floor cleaner circa 1910 and Vacuum-equipped power sweeper circa 1947. http://www.tennantco.com/am-en/Pages/Company/About%20Us.aspx#UniqueContentTabId2Tab

  5. “Aerial View, G.H. Tennant Company, Minneapolis,” photograph, 1963, Vincent H. Mart Aerial Photography Collection, Minnesota Historical Society.

  6. “G.H. Tennant Company,” vertical file, James K. Hosmer Special Collections, Hennepin County Library.

  7. “G.H. Tennant Company,” vertical file, James K. Hosmer Special Collections, Hennepin County Library.

Footnotes:

  1. Tennant Company Corporate and Financial Fact Book, December 1969. “G.H. Tennant Company,” vertical file, James K. Hosmer Special Collections, Hennepin County Library. 
PVN Staff