Architectural critic and historian Larry Millett begins his new book on the Metropolitan Building at the end, with the words a janitor spoke to a Tribune reporter a day before the landmark fell in 1962.
"They will damn us, they will, for tearing down the Met."
"Metropolitan Dreams: The Scandalous Rise and Stunning Fall of a Minneapolis Masterpiece" from the University of Minnesota Press tells the building's story, from its lavish beginning — built for $2 million in 1890 at the corner of Second Avenue South and Third Street — through to its heartbreaking end. The Minneapolis Housing and Redevelopment Authority demolished the castle-like skyscraper with a stunningly modern interior as part of its Gateway Center Urban Renewal Plan.
But, more than just the life and death of a building, Millett's book recounts the Twin Cities' first, big preservation battle.
"If there's one building that you can say people here regret going away it's that building, because if it had lasted another 10 years, it would have been restored," Millett told MPR host Tom Crann. "By that time, preservation programs were in effect, people knew a lot more about how to go about doing it, and it today would be one of the jewels of the city, without a question."
To hear more of Crann's conversation with Millett, click the audio player above.
Correction (Feb. 23, 2019): Larry Millett's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.