The Young Quinlan Building, constructed in 1926, is a landmark representing high-quality merchandising in Minneapolis. The story of how this structure came to be paints a picture of how a demand for high fashion was established in the Twin Cities.
Elizabeth Quinlan and Fred Young opened the Fred D. Young and Company in 1894 in the Syndicate Block at 513 Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. The two worked together as clerks at Goodwin’s Department Store before venturing out to open the first ready-to-wear women’s specialty shop in Minneapolis. It was the second of its kind in America; the first was opened in New York City. Ready-to-wear soon became the mold for specialty shops across the country.
Within its first year, business was booming and the store was the place-to-shop for Minneapolis. Quinlan began to take the reins as store-buyer and Young handled day-to-day business manners. As store buyer, Quinlan traveled to New York, Chicago, and Europe to identify the latest in fashion and bring these styles to the Midwest. In 1903, Young became severely ill and eventually passed away in 1911. Before Young’s death, the store was renamed the Young-Quinlan Company.
Elizabeth Quinlan’s entrepreneurial spirit and business tactics rivaled those of the most successful businessmen in a time when women still did not have the right to vote. Her presence in buying was at first challenged, but soon, her fashion sense was sought after by other buyers. Under Quinlan’s management, the store continued to flourish. Soon, expansion plans were in the works.
In 1926, The Young Quinlan Building was constructed at 901 Nicollet Mall. The building’s design was a joint project between architect Frederick Ackerman of New York and Minneapolis’s own architecture firm Magney and Tusler. Constructed by James Heck and Company, the five-story building’s Renaissance Revival style is derived from a façade of tan brick and Kasota limestone that reflects Quinlan’s love for Italian art. The building’s exterior and interior were developed to reflect Quinlan’s definition of what a good store should be: “Always seek the best, whether its merchandise or appointments for the home, or advice on business, because the best is least expensive in the end.”
In May 1945, Quinlan sold the department store to Henry C. Lytton and Company, and died two years later of heart disease. In April 1985, The Young-Quinlan Department Store closed. Today Elizabeth Quinlan is considered one of the most successful women in business of her time and the Young-Quinlan Building stands as a tribute to her impact on Minneapolis’s economic development.
In 1988, the Young-Quinlan Building was designated a Minneapolis Landmark for its contribution to the development of commerce in the city.