Historic Name: National Purity Soap Company
Location: 514 Second Street SE, Minneapolis, MN
Client: The Soap Factory
Constructed: 1883, 1892, 1917, 1938, 1948
Project Date: 2013
Project Scope: Documentation and Research
The Soap Factory, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a “laboratory for artistic experimentation and innovation, dedicated to supporting artists and engaging audiences through the production and presentation of contemporary art in a unique and historic environment.” The organization is based in the National Purity Soap Factory Building located by the riverfront in the historic Saint Anthony Falls District of Minneapolis. The 48,000 square foot warehouse built of wood, brick and steel was donated to the organization in 1995. When donated, the building was in poor shape, with a badly leaking roof, little to no electrical service, and no plumbing or heating system. Since inheriting the building, the organization has raised funds to make incremental repairs and improvements to the building, which now houses an exhibition and studio space for artists.
As a former Board member and co-chair of the Building Revitalization Task Force, Meghan Elliott has worked with the organization since 2009 to create the strategy and plan for rehabilitating the building. As a result, over $200,000 has been invested in building improvements. More recently Preservation Design Works (PVN) has been working for the Soap Factory to create an entry area that expands the program space, creates an outdoor event area, and identifies a clear entrance to the building. For this work, PVN documented and provided measured drawings of the areas of work, researched the building and construction history in order to understand the historic significance and integrity of the building and proposed entry area, and developed a plan for obtaining regulatory approvals. As a contributing member to the Saint Anthony Falls Historic District, changes to the property are subject to review and approval from the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission and must meet the Design Guidelines for the historic district. The entry area is currently being designed while funding sources are sought.