Former Light Bulb Factory, Now Former School District Building
The Minnesota Lamp Works was built in 1914 to manufacture Mazda brand light bulbs. The GE brand was named for Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian deity whose name translates as “light” and “wisdom.” The huge facility – nearly 175,000 sq. ft. – had a capacity of 25,000 light bulbs per day. But changes in filament manufacturing techniques made much of the space superfluous, and by 1917 it became the sight of the annual Auto Show.
The Minneapolis School District purchased the 807 E. Broadway building in 1930 for $200,000 for its new headquarters, although administrative staff did not relocate there until 1948. With the opening of the District’s new building at 1250 W. Broadway in 2012, staff has gradually been moving out of the old factory. The building still has much of its original appearance, including century-old office environments with wood-paneled half-walls and glass partitions. The IT workroom looks like a traditional factory shop, with high ceilings and ancient broad planked oak flooring. The School District has offered the building for sale. Its fate and that of the surrounding property is still uncertain.