DOWN BY THE OLD FRUEN MILL - timeline - by Sharon Parker
Photo by Dave Stack, Oct 2015.
----- FRUEN MILL TIMELINE -----
A chronological outline of 'DOWN BY THE OLD FRUEN MILL'
------------- by Sharon Parker
Minneapolis Observer Quarterly, Spring 2010
----- July 15, 1845: William H. Fruen born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England (Holcombe; ABF 1960)
----- 1865: WHF immigrated to Boston, probably April 17 (ABF notes). Worked for Boston Screw Co. (ABF notes; Holcombe); became a stockholder in the company (Holcombe)
----- 1870: WHF moved to St. Paul, then Minneapolis, after Boston Screw Co. was taken over by American Screw Co. and plant was closed. (ABF notes & 1960) Made patterns and built machinery for the mills. (ABF 1960) -- “[Fruen] operated a repair shop for the flour mills on the west side of St. Anthony Falls. Here he assisted the millers with devices to improve and to protect the millstones and other milling equipment from damage.” —ABF 1960
----- 1874: WHF dammed Bassett’s Creek and built a water-powered screw factory (ABF notes; Holcombe). Fruen’s partners were “hurt by the recession” and unable to help raise capital. (Holcombe) The factory made 8,000 gross of screws a year. (ABF 1960)
----- 1878: WHF’s screw factory was later purchased by the American Screw Co. (ABF notes; Holcombe). Fruen was constrained “not to re-engage in the manufacture nor to teach others how to make screw machinery” (Holcombe). -- WHF subsequently used the building to manufacture the Minneapolis Water Wheel Governor (ABF notes), which he invented and patented (Holcombe), alternatively called Fruen waterwheel governor (Corr. Sch.1902), which regulated the speed of the water wheels that powered the mills. Fruen’s waterwheel governor was a great success and was shipped all over the world, including to England, Japan, and Argentina. Fruen ran this business pretty much full time until 1890. (Holcombe)
----- May 2, 1878: Washburn A Mill explosion. This led to innovations to prevent a recurrence (Mill City; Holcombe). WHF contributed to this effort by developing an alarm to signal when the flow of grain between the mill stones was too low. (Holcombe) Other innovations, not attributed to Fruen, focused on reducing or eliminating the dust. (Mill City)
----- ca 1878–1880: WHF discovers a spring on his property when digging a pond to keep his fish in. (ABF 1960) The spring comes from under blue clay on his property. (TCB Feb. 2007)
----- 1880–1930: Minneapolis leads the nation in flour production (Mill City)
----- 1882: WHF started selling spring water; petitioned City Hall for a franchise to connect to water mains to supply city water to homes and businesses, but was repeatedly turned down, apparently because he wanted too much money. (Holcombe)
----- 1884: WHF formed the Glenwood company and began selling water in jugs. (Holcombe says they started selling water in jugs in 1885, but Glenwood dates its origins to 1884)
----- Dec. 16, 1884: WHF patented a coin-operated machine for dispensing water by the glass. (ABF 1960; Greiner 2001) These machines were manufactured in the same building that had once made screws, then waterwheel governors (ABF 1960)
----- 1890: WHF began experimenting with “steam rolling wheat from which only the exterior bran had been removed, and which was then packaged and sold through grocers as breakfast cereal.” (ABF 1960)
----- 1894: Fruen Cereal Company incorporated, made only whole grain cereals; later changed name to Fruen Milling Company, “as business broadened.” (ABF 1960) Some time after 1894, added feed for livestock to food manufactured, which is when/why the name changed. (1954) Alternatively, Holcombe says the cereal/milling company was started in 1896 — I assumed that Arthur Fruen knew the family business and provided the more accurate date. Milling operations took place in the same building as previous enterprises. (ABF 1960)
----- 1896: William F. Fruen, son of Wm. H Fruen, took over the Glenwood company when his father retired. (Holcombe) -- When the Fruens were bottling water under the name Glenwood, “On the adjoining property were bountiful springs belonging to the Inglewood company, which was engaged in the same business. The two plants were competitors for 10 or 11 years.” (Holcombe) In 1896, the two merged to form Glenwood-Inglewood, Inglewood founder A.E. Holbrook became president, Wm. F. Fruen became secretary. In 1914, the company was delivering about three million gallons of water annually. (Holcombe)
----- 1909: Fruen retired from the milling co., son Arthur B. Fruen took over. (1954)
----- 1911: Fruen Milling Co. added a feed department. (1954)
----- 1912: First concrete construction at the Fruen Mill site (1954)
----- 1913: Typhoid Epidemic in Minneapolis, Glenwood-Inglewood supplies safe drinking water. (MT 1967)
----- Oct. 19, 1917: Wm H. Fruen died, was subsequently buried at Lakewood Cemetery.
----- 1921–1945: Arthur B. Fruen served as Minneapolis city councilman.
----- 1930: Arthur Fruen and the Glenwood-Inglewood Company donate 13.4 acres around Bassett’s Creek to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which became the beginning of Bassett’s Creek Valley Park. (Smith 2008)
----- 1930s: WPA project on newly donated Bassett’s Creek parkland installed stone walls to control erosion on steep banks across the creek from the mill, and constructed a concrete dam. (Smith 2008) I speculated that, since other sources (cited above) said that WHF had constructed a dam to power the original Fruen plant, the WPA dam may have been a restoration rather than new construction.
----- 1932: J. Donald Fruen joins Glenwood-Inglewood Co. (unidentified newspaper clipping at Hennepin History Museum)
----- 1935: Another WPA project results in a deepening of Bassett’s Creek. (Smith 2008)
----- 1950: J. Donald Fruen becomes pres. of Glenwood-Inglewood Co., third generation of Fruens in this position. (unidentified newspaper clipping at Hennepin History Museum)
----- 1954/5: Expansion of Fruen Milling Co. by addition of 120,000-bushel concrete storage facility, which brings the capacity to 300,000 bushels; new equipment, which increased output to 600–800 tons/day; Fruen “one of the largest millers of diversified cereals and farm feeds in the Upper Midwest.” “The lofty elevator tower is a landmark of the Glenwood area of Minneapolis.” (1954)
----- 1963: Arthur B. Fruen, then age 77, retires from “active” role, but remains chair of Fruen Milling Co. 
----- 1970: ConAgr Inc. bought Fruen Mill (BF letter). Arthur B. Fruen died Sept. 30 (MnHS death records)
----- 1971: J. Donald Fruen died at age 69 on August 11; had been chairman of the board of Glenwood-Inglewood Co.; had been pres. of company from 1950 to 1970. 
----- June/July 2004: Frich Development purchased three acres that includes the Fruen Mill, with plans to develop it into luxury condos. Development stymied by access issues across RR tracks — Canadian Pacific grants access, Burlington Northern does not. (SWJ Jul04; Fin&Com Sep04)
----- Sep. 2004: Deep Rock Water of Denver, Colo., purchased Glenwood Inglewood.
----- Oct. 2005: An 18-yr-old man falls while exploring the abandoned Fruen Mill. He survives. (ST 29Oct2006)
----- January 2006: Fruen Mill Partners LLC purchased Fruen Mill property. Delinquent taxes as of Jan. 2010: $11,114.92. (in Mpls Issues Forum, citing Henn. County property Web site)
----- Jan. 26, 2006: A Park Board memo outlines plans to grant an access easement to the Fruen Mill project in exchange for financial compensation and certain specified improvements to adjoining Park Board land. (MPRB memo Jan 2006)
----- Feb. 15, 2006: MPRB moves to remove from consideration a proposal to grant an easement to developers of the Fruen Mill property. (MPRB Feb. 2006)
----- Oct. 2006: A 32-yr-old man dies after falling through a hole in the floor at the Fruen Mill. (ST 29Oct2006)
----- Nov. 18, 2009: Fruen Mill purchased from Fruen Mill Partners LLC by Lippert and Associates LLP (Star Tribune 2010)
---------------------------------------- by Sharon Parker
Minneapolis Observer Quarterly, Spring 2010
Fruen MillConAgra MillBassett's CreekBassett Creek