The Advance Thresher Company and the Emerson-Newton Plow Company building are two structures appearing to be one. They were erected four years apart on adjoining lots with the Advance Thresher built in 1900 and Emerson-Newton in 1904. The buildings were designed by Kees and Colburn (designers of the Grain Exchange in Minneapolis, and Brown and Bigelow and the Lowry Medical Building in Saint Paul).
The Minneapolis Journal noted on October 1, 1904, that with the second structure, the building “will be the handsomest as well as the largest of its kind in the city.” With the neighboring J.I. Case Building, the Advanced Thresher Building helped eradicate crime in the area.
The Star Tribune’s February 1906 edition reported that the “transformation which has taken place in the famous [Fish Alley] district since 1900 is incredible.”
The buildings were designed as manufacturing plants and showrooms for farm machinery. As a result, the interiors are post and beam and simple and unadorned while the exterior are a combination of terra-cotta and yellow brick.
The exterior ornamentation defines the entry in pilasters. A single cornice joins the two buildings. On the sides of the entries are terra-cotta cartouches with the Advance Thresher Building identified with two “A’s,” and the Emerson Newton Plow identified by an “E” and an “N.” In addition, the names and symbols are repeated.
Although the buildings look as though they have the same number of floors, the Advance Thresher is five stories, and the Emerson-Newton is six. The architects skillfully resolved the difference in floors through cornices on the two buildings equal in height and proportion giving the effect of a single sightline.
Advance Thresher, headquartered in Michigan, dealt with threshing machines and steam engines. Emerson Newton had been headquartered in Illinois but moved to Minneapolis on completion of the building. Emerson-Newton dealt with agricultural equipment and buggies.
The properties are both on the Minnesota Historic Preservation list and the National Register of Historic Places.