About This Item
very rare and highly unique late 19th or early 20th century architectural rendering depicting the washburn-crosby flour mill complex (minneapolis, mn). the single-sided lithograph is sandwiched between two panes of “wavy” clear glass. original mitered joint oak wood frame with black enameled finish. the washburn-crosby mfg. company can trace its history to the minneapolis milling company, founded in 1856 by illinois congressman robert smith, which leased power rights to mills operating along saint anthony falls on the mississippi river. cadwallader c. washburn acquired the company shortly after its founding and hired his brother, william d. washburn to assist in the company’s development. in 1866, the washburns got into the business themselves, building the washburn “b” mill at the falls. at the time, the building was considered to be so large and output so vast that it could not possibly sustain itself. however, the company succeeded, and in 1874 he built the even bigger washburn “a” mill. in 1877, the mill entered a partnership with john crosby to form the washburn-crosby company. in 1878, the “a” mill exploded. there was a flour dust explosion that resulted in the deaths of 17 workers and also destroyed five nearby buildings. construction of a new mill began immediately. not only was the new mill safer but it also was able to produce a higher quality flour. the old grinding stones were replaced with automatic steel rollers. these new rollers were the first used throughout the world. these new rollers also were capable of producing more nutritious flour. nearly all of these buildings were abandoned, and later demolished during the 1930’s. at some point in time, someone painstakingly cut out each and every window (likely to mimic a night scene), contained within any and all of the buildings located in or around the factory complex. when illuminated from behind, the buildings effectively come to life.