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What's worth saving at the Star Tribune building? Six tributes to industry, city says

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As Minneapolis prepares to say goodbye to the Star Tribune building that's been an anchor on downtown's east end for nearly a century, city staff members say there's just one part of the structure worth preserving.

Or, make that six parts.

The Star Trib itself reports city officials say half-a-dozen architectural tributes to Minnesota's industrial heritage are the most noteworthy feature of the building. Called medallions, the carvings are part of the stone facade on either side of the main entrance. They depict mining, milling, lumber, fishing, farming, and dairy.

The newspaper says Minneapolis' Heritage Preservation Commission is scheduled to take up the merits of the Star Tribune building next week and the city's recommendation was filed in advance of that meeting.

A developer's plan to turn the site into a mixture of high-rise office space and housing with two blocks of parkland leading to the new Vikings stadium is making its way through the approval process. It would occupy a site that's now covered mostly by Star Tribune buildings and parking lots.

MPR says the city's report notes that the main Star Tribune building was constructed in 1919 and '20 by the Non-Partisan League, a populist agrarian group that founded the Minnesota Daily Star. The building we see today dates to a 1940's-era renovation, according to the Star Trib.

For decades, the Cowles family owned both the Minneapolis Star and the Tribune, and then the combined newspaper. Jay Cowles III wrote a letter to the city endorsing the plan to demolish the building, saying it "outlived its original functionality long ago."

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