Donaldson's Glass Block, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1908 Print
Nice hand-colored historic view of Donaldson's Glass Block, at 6th and Nicollet in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from 1908.
Scottish immigrant William Donaldson opened a small store in Minneapolis in 1881, located at 310 Nicollet Avenue. In 1883 William and his brother Lawrence purchased a 1 1/2 story store named Colton and Company, featuring a large expanse of glass block. The Donaldson brothers department store was known in its early years as "Donaldson's Glass Block Store" because of its distinctive design of the building. In 1888 the original building was demolished, and replaced with a five-story building featuring a dome on top, elevators, and rows of plate glass windows. By 1899 William had died, and Lawrence renamed the company the "L.S. Donaldson Company." The store continued to expand, which culminated in the construction of a new $2,000,000 eight-story building, taking up an entire block of Nicollet from Sixth Street to Seventh Street, topped by the distinctive dome from 1888. The new store opened to great fanfare on November 10, 1924. The dome was eventually dismantled in April 1942 and turned into war materials during the Second World War.
Lawrence Donaldson had remained as president of L.S. Donaldson Company until his death in 1924. Dying just 4 months before the opening of the new store in Minneapolis, Lawrence Donaldson didn't live to see the store he had dreamed of and envisioned. He was succeeded by Joseph Chapman as president. In an effort to further expand and have greater buying power, while retaining their management and name, L.S. Donaldson Company merged with Hahn Department Stores Inc. in 1928. In 1935, Hahn's recapitalization plans resulted in a name change; and Hahn Department Stores Inc became known as Allied Stores Corporation.
Donaldson's continued to expand after being acquired by Allied Stores, including their first branch store located in Rapid City, South Dakota, which opened in the former C.C. Anderson building in January 1948. A second branch followed in Rochester, Minnesota, opening October 15, 1953.
In 1961, The Golden Rule store of St. Paul, Minnesota was transferred by Allied Stores to Donaldson's and operated as Donaldson's - Golden Rule. By April 1965 Donaldson's advertising for the St Paul store dropped the Golden Rule name and became known as Donaldson's.
Donaldson's continued to expand; and by 1976 Donaldson's had stores in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as in the Twin Cities suburbs, including Southdale Center, Brookdale Center, Rosedale Center, and Ridgedale Center.
In 1978, Donaldson's parent company, Allied Stores, transferred control of the three-store James Black Company chain of Waterloo, Iowa to Donaldson's, further expanding the chain.
Donaldson's announced in 1977 that they would be relocating from their flagship store in Minneapolis, on the east side of Nicollet, for the new City Center development across Nicollet. Additionally, Donaldson's updated their marketing plan, closed their budget store, and relocated from the old Golden Rule building to a newly constructed St. Paul store under the guidance of president Charles B. James II in 1980. Allied Stores promoted Charles B. James II to their Joske's division in 1981 and appointed 37-year old William Murray as president of Donaldson's. Prior to the opening of the new Minneapolis location, and just 11 months after being named president, William Murray died of cancer; Leonard Snyder was named the new president. The Minneapolis City Center Donaldson's opened in August 1982. At that time the downtown location was third in sales in the chain, behind Southdale Center and Brookdale Center.
The vacated Donaldson's store complex, which comprised half a city block, along with the adjacent Northwestern National Bank Building, burned in the 1982 Thanksgiving Day Fire as a result of arson. The fire caused 75 million dollars in damages, and was the most destructive fire in the history of Minneapolis. Two juveniles were charged with setting fire to the building while it was undergoing demolition; however, charges were later dropped. The sites were replaced and are currently occupied by Gaviidae Common on the Donaldson's tract, and Wells Fargo Center (the successor to Northwestern National Bank/Norwest) on the bank property.