Tuesday, September 28, 2010




This entire narrative is taken from my own vague memories. I cannot access archives of the Minneapolis Tribune partly because it costs money and partly because the archives available only go back to 1986. Below you will see what I found at Wiki.

Once upon a time, around Thanksgiving Weekend 1982, I officed in a drab little office with an old wooden desk at the Northwestern National Bank Building in downtown Minneapolis. By the time you reached the third floor of that old building, the offices were generally old and musty with ugly wallpaper and carpeting going back to the 1930’s.

Oh to be sure there were some rich law firms and other businesses that had refurbished their particular floor, but on the whole the inners of that ancient edifice stunk.

But I recall the outside of this magnificent structure; a building of 25 floors (or so) made of Minnesota granite. There existed on the outside that early 20th century molding that made the structure look as if it were made of marble instead of granite.

The first two floors all belonged to the bank, one of two of the largest banking institutions in Minnesota. Northwestern National Bank no longer exists because it was purchased by Wells Fargo years ago. And the inners of those two floors that headquartered the  bank were magnificently furbished.

But the city fathers wished to get rid of that building, that is my recollection.

Now the events which I relate occurred in the dead of winter and on the week-end.

Back in those days, it was ‘dead’ on Sunday in downtown Minneapolis. I mean dead. There would be almost no vehicles of any kind parked at the meters or in the parking facilities outside or inside.  

Just as an aside, I recall driving to Chicago in the mid 80’s and seeing a similar site. I drove right into the town square depicted in so many films including The Untouchables and there was not a car on the street on Sunday.

And it was particularly cold in Minneapolis that weekend, -10 degrees Fahrenheit or worse.

Anyway, I come to work on Monday and the building HAD BURNED DOWN.  That’s right, a granite edifice mysteriously burned down.

My office mate, Bob made arrangements through the powers that be to office across the street at a more 50’s type office building owned by the competing bank.

Tons of litigation ensued. Bob and his old partner who had become a Bankruptcy judge had made a rather strange purchase a decade or so prior to the destruction of the building. They had purchased a quarter share in the land under the building.

When a great metropolitan edifice is destroyed there are hundreds of different insurance policies involved. And litigation becomes extremely complicated.

I recall the Feds stepping into the mess besides the State and I am sure litigation went on well into the 80’s and beyond. I recall that the entire series of proceedings were fixed. It was like the entire destruction of that building had been predicted by the powers that be.

Bob and his old partner ended up getting their initial investment back with no profit. Which would have been impossible with regard to other piece of land in Minneapolis at that time; because land values were increasing at an alarming rate.

Nobody was killed or harmed as a result of that fire; because nobody had been in the building. No security guards were harmed. No wandering office employees were harmed.

I would imagine that some firemen would have been injured, but I have no recollection of that at all.

In almost no time at all (a few years?) a brand new modern day building stood at that site and I imagine it stands there on this date.

Within a month of that fire two ‘suspects’ were charged with setting fire to that building.

In a squib located on page four or five of the Minneapolis Star/Tribune, it was reported that an 11 year old boy and his 13 year old pal were being charged for setting the building on fire with matches.

I just recall laughing so hard when I read that article that I spit coffee all over my new desk.

We were supposed to believe that a building with no access on Sundays; a building made of granite and steel and concrete; a monument to the old architecture of stone was somehow burned down by two boys with matches from the outside. Hahahahahahaaha

And the disaster became an opportunity for the City Fathers to accomplish urban development and make a lot of people a lot of money.

Now in those days, juveniles were not tried as adults—at least in Minnesota.

I do not know what happened to the boys except I have a faint memory in some follow up news clipping that they were let off with probation or a very short stay at some juvenile facility.

There never faced any permanent record.

I have been doing some research on ‘dirty public officials’ of late.

I am working on part two of a series that specifically relates to the two juvenile judges in Pennsylvania that plead guilty to monumental graft; the pleas were just accepted in July of this year.

In 2005, some entrepreneurs purchased some state juvenile facility for peanuts. They then procured low interest loans from the State to refurbish it. Then somehow they sold it back to the State for tens of millions of dollars and leased it back to themselves to run a private juvenile facility.

These two judges began to sentence juveniles to this new private facility, and received millions in kick backs from the criminals who owned this juvenile center.

The injury caused by these two crooked judges will take years and years to sort out. I am sure that some plaintiff attorneys are going to make millions of dollars from all this.

Hundreds if not thousands of kids were irretrievably harmed by the actions of these judges.

But I came upon this short story that reminded me of my old days in downtown Minneapolis:

Here’s another story from about four years before the discovery of the thousands of cases of judicial corruption that justify the death penalty for Ciavarella. In this one, cops bribed a 7 year old boy with candy and pizza to get a confession for a fire he couldn’t have possibly set. Further, the victim of the fire, elderly Mr. Benjamin Morris, was known to burn yard waste and debris in his backyard and may have started the fire himself.
Luzerne County “law enforcement” didn’t bother to question anybody who was taking care of the boy that fateful day. Why bother when you are criminal thugs with badges who already have somebody you can easily blame for a crime and can be cheaply made to self-incriminate?

Now following this little narrative I did come across this gem at Wiki:

The Minneapolis Thanksgiving Day Fire destroyed an entire block of Downtown Minneapolis on November 25–26, 1982, including the 16-story headquarters of Northwestern National Bank (now Wells Fargo) and the vacant, partially-demolished location formerly occupied by Donaldson's department store, which had recently moved across the street to the new City Center mall. Nobody was injured or killed as a result of the fire.
The Minneapolis Fire Department quickly determined the cause of the fire as arson.[1] Shortly thereafter, two juveniles were arrested and later convicted of setting the fire, using an acetylene torch found at the partially-demolished Donaldson's site.
In 1988, Northwestern National Bank (then called Norwest Corporation) constructed a 57-story Cesar Pelli-designed headquarters on the site of the Bank building. The new headquarters is now known as the Wells Fargo Center, after Norwest merged with Wells Fargo. The Donaldson's half of the block is occupied by the Saks Fifth Avenue wing of Gaviidae Common, an upscale shopping mall.


 Acetyline torch my ass. hahaha

Who knows? Memories. Oh, and juvenile records are sealed forever. hahaha

Convenient, huh?


Amike said...

I remember that building well, though I was in Rhode Island by the time it burned. The Weatherball--what a marvel it was when it was first lit. White for colder, Red for warmer, Green for no Change, and blinking for precipitation. What more did one need to know? My cousin Betty worked for Northwest in Northeast Minneapolis--across from my local public library branch. That's gone now.

Though I was a transplant by the time the purchase happened I felt betrayed by the sale to Wells-Fargo. Wells Fargo in Lake Wobegon country? Ridiculous. And while we used to call Northwest Orient Airlines "Northworst" it was our Northworst. Delta my Aunt Maud! Globalization? I rather like localization, myself, where places mean something to their residents. At least Foshay is still there, Arthur, though one can't see it as easily as one could. Give my regards to the mini-apple next time you're down.

trkingmomoe said...

It makes you wonder how many children of minorities have been sent to the penal system because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Kids that was innocent of the crimes that they were convicted of.

Ambitious and corrupt officials in the judicial system out on the take.

LarryH said...

Granite burns in Minnesota and oil evaporates in the Louisiana bayous. This is some country we live in.


Yeah Professor,Foshay built that great tower in the 30's and promptly went backrupt. hahah

Remember when they went from Northwest to Norwest prior to Wells Fargo?

Anyway, same crooks, different names. haha


Oh and Momoe, kids are ramrodded every day. Easy pickins as they say.

Easy way to close cases, get confessions.


hahahahahaah. It is a wonder isn't it Larry? hahahahah

Do you believe in magic Larry? hahaah

Anonymous said...

Fact Check: Norwest purchased Wells Fargo in 1998.

It's too bad that the juvenilles haven't told their story, because it could be a NYT best-seller.