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Remodeling Project Uncovers Historic Headlines

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(credit: CBS) Bill Hudson
Bill Hudson has been with WCCO-TV since 1989. The native of Elk Rive...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — From the outside, the brick building on west 40th Street and Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis looks anything but a historic vault. However, when remodelers at Locus Architecture ripped open ceiling tiles, vintage headlines came pouring out.

“Fiber ceiling tiles were up there and on top of that is where the insulation was,” said architect Paul Neseth.

Neseth and his partners wanted to expose the original wood ceiling joists inside their new offices, but as they did, it was like uncorking a 1940s time capsule. Back when the building was built, old paper was used for an insulation product, including newspapers, cash register receipts and even bowling score sheets.

The most interesting are the vintage headlines. Reams of old Minneapolis Star Journals and Sunday Tribunes give us a glimpse of life before the U.S. was attacked at Pearl Harbor. There is even a full-page article detailing a Gallup Poll, which asked Americans who would win the war in Europe, Hitler or Churchill?

Wynne Grant Yelland is a partner at Locus and said, “you start paging through and you think, I can’t throw that out, and then you start looking it over and it’s (our) parent’s generation.”

Yelland and Neseth decided that the piles of yellowed, yet perfectly preserved papers deserved to be displayed. So, as they prepare for a grand opening of their new home office, they decorated the walls with a vast array of the historic front pages.

Many of the stories detail troubles in Europe as well as the major sports stories of the times. There’s reference to the Minneapolis Aquatennial parade and festivities, boasting attendance of more than 200,000 people.

“The most interesting thing is the juxtaposition of everyday life mixed with the war going on in Europe,” said Neseth. “Just how comfortable it was all put together.”

There are full color comic pages as well as colorful ads for cigarettes and Hamm’s beer. A grocery store ad clearly shows a time when a Sunday pot roast would cost you just 20 cents a pound.

Both Neseth and Yelland said they hope to find someone who values the historic significance of the collection. But until a potential caretaker can be found, they’ll keep the papers on display for customers to enjoy.

“The easy thing would be to rip ‘em all up, bundle them and get rid of them,” said Neseth. “But once we saw what is in the papers it’s impossible to forget that.”

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