The charming brick building lost to fire in the past weeks had many stories — and many tenants — over the years since its building during World War I.
The streetcar line had continued to be extended south down Bryant Avenue from Lake Street, stopping for many years in the 1860s at West 46th Street to serve The Colony residential development along Fremont and Emerson Avenues from West 46th to West 48th Streets.
Beyond these scattered residences were open tracts of land: entire blocks of land were in the hands of sole owners. Fogg’s Motor Line Addition covered three blocks beyond West 50th Street near the creek in anticipation of the city’s growth and the right to extend track through the residential district across the creek and south to the city limits at West 56th Street. The C.M. Foote 1892 Atlas of Minneapolis shows the entirety of the north side of West 50th Street from Bryant to Lyndale owned by G.H. Pumphrey, a partner in a real estate and development company.
By 1903 the Minneapolis Real Estate Board Plat Atlas noted that West 48th Street’s earlier name, Old Town Road, a lingering clue to the annexation of land by Minneapolis out of Richfield Township to expand the city limits. A block-long frame structure now housed Herman Bachman’s greenhouse on the Pumphrey block. The streetcar line extended down Bryant to West 50th Street, where it turned around and headed north again. There was little else at the intersection, only a few scattered wood frame buildings.
Jump forward to 1930 and we find the streetcar has now been extended through the intersection and over the creek. Herman Bachman’s greenhouses are replaced by a two-story brick building built in 1919 housing a drugstore and a bakery, with a brick bake house behind. On the west side of Bryant was a second bakery and a filling station, which had its own rival on the southwest corner across the street. A large restaurant stood on West 50th Street just between Aldrich and Lyndale avenues. And our now-lost building held a rival drugstore and multiple shop fronts just east of Bryant.
The restaurant was gone by the time the 1940 WPA Minneapolis Atlas went to print, but the streetcar node at 50th & Bryant was now well established. Its longest legacy may well be its bakeries: the Myhr and Wuollet Bakeries were only two of the pastry shops that occupied center-building space on the south side of 50th for 90 years.
Deborah Morse-Kahn, a regional historian, grew up in Lynnhurst. Her newest book, “The Historic St. Croix Riverway,” will be released this summer by the Minnesota Historical Society Press.