The original Pilsbury A Mill was built in 1881 by architect Leroy Buffington. Buffington was dissatisfied by traditional mill designs, and chose a more aesthetically pleasing form over the usual solid blocky construction favored by earlier mill designers. Unfortunately this approach proved to be unstable after years of vibrations from heavy machinery, and the building had to be reinforced in the early 1900s. The building shows visible sag today, but is structurally sound and was in use as recently as 2003.
A canal beneath the main street of St. Anthony carried water to the mill's two turbine wheels, each producing 1200 horsepower. Tailraces released the water into the Mississippi below St Anthony Falls, and are still accessible today. These races cut through earlier power canals such as Chute's tunnel, and may have been responsible for the partial collapse of Chute's cave, a natural cavern which exists below Main street in front of the mill.
Adjacent buildings, including the brick silos and headhouse, the concrete silos, and interconnecting skyways were added over the years, with the most recent owner being the Archer Daniels Midland or ADM corporation. The large "Pillsbury's Best Flour" neon sign atop the brick headhouse has become a landmark of the St. Anthony waterfront, and remained lit even after ADM ceased using the building.
Current plans call for demolishing the concrete elevators and converting much of the property into luxury condominiums. Security is quite vigilant at this site, sealing holes and doors, installing alarm systems, patrolling the grounds, and keeping vandalism and grafitti to a minimum.
A map of the East Bank milling district in St. Anthony from around the turn of the century. The Pilsbury mills are shown just above center.
Most trips to this mill end up spending a lot of time on various rooftops, as the view of downtown Murderapolis and the waterfront are spectacular. As such I have a lot more rooftop photos of other stuff than I do interior photos of these buildings!
Some of the milling areas, the first photo taken in the A mill, the center in the machinery area above the brick silos, and the last showing grafitti ranging from the 1800s to the present day.
A more active-looking area, and the top of one of the grain storage silos.
The infamous Belt-O-Vators, or Manlifts, are another popular destination. One of these still works and can be ridden up and down to the dismay of lawyers everywhere.
Some photos from the tailrace tunnels deep beneath the mill, where a waterfall pours in from the abandoned headrace canal just below street level.
My favorite shot, from the top of the concrete silo headhouse.
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