Preservation goes beyond buildings to include small scale installations such as historic advertising signs and murals. When preserving architectural artistry in Minneapolis, the smallest details of design and execution are often the most celebrated. The public art of Peter Bue – better known as Fucci – is as symbolic of the city and its culture as the skyline itself.
Fucci is perhaps best remembered for his murals of celebrities from the Golden Age of Hollywood – including his iconic representation of Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” at 28th and Hennepin in Uptown. He died in 2012 and is remembered as a prolific pop art painter with hundreds of public and private commissions to his credit.
As a result of Fucci’s prominence as a local muralists, it is not surprising that Preserve Minneapolis received multiple inquiries into the future of the his murals inside 331 Second Avenue North. The building has long stood vacant, formerly home to the New French Café, waiting for preservation and reuse.
The fate of his paintings inside of 331 Second Avenue North remains unclear. While the address lies within the Historic Warehouse District, it is uncertain whether the building itself is a contributing resource. If the building were deemed a contributing resource, the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) would review any proposed alterations or demolitions.
In addition to several murals throughout the building, Fucci also painted details on much of the building’s interior woodwork. These details make this building an ideal candidate for preservation protection. Even if the HPC cannot assist in saving the building, a grassroots effort by citizens could make a powerful impact.
The building and consequently Fucci’s murals are not in imminent danger. No development plans are known nor has news of any real estate transactions surfaced. Preserve Minneapolis will follow the progress of the building and update members if the vacant status seems likely to change.
We appreciate when citizens inform us of concerning projects or inquire into vacant buildings. We encourage anyone to contact the Preserve Minneapolis advocacy committee to tell us about any emerging threats to our city’s architectural, cultural and artistic treasures. There is great power in citizens banding together to save even the most hidden pieces of Minneapolis’s history.
Author: David Hlavac