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Somewhere In Time: 7 Historic Minnesota Wedding Venues

Minnesota is replete with venues steeped in history. Here are seven with stories to tell.
Sherri Hildebrandt

Dreamed of getting married in a castle? The Van Dusen Mansion at the edge of downtown Minneapolis is pretty close. The 12,000-squarefoot home was built in 1892 by one of Minnesota’s kings of commerce, George Washington Van Dusen, founder of Minnesota’s first (and highly prosperous) grain firm in 1883. Among special features are 10 wood-burning fireplaces and stunning stained glass above the grand staircase. At various times, the mansion has housed the College of Commerce, the College of Medical Technology, the Horst Institute, and the Hamline Law School. Guest capacity is 200; food and beverage services are through Mintahoe Catering.

Once part of the 3,000 acres of the original Mayowood Farm in Rochester, the Stone Barn was built around 1912 to house ponies and thoroughbred horses. Built of limestone by Dr. Charles (Chuck) Mayo (son of the clinic founder), the material adds special charm. Elsewhere on the property are giant bur oaks, including the 306-year-old “ceremony tree” with a natural arch that makes it a perfect ceremony site. The barn can accommodate 300 guests; in-house catering and beverage services are provided exclusively by Canadian Honker Catering.

Shipping played a huge role in Minnesota’s early economy, and the Duluth harbor was at the heart of it all. Construction of Pier B, at the edge of Lake Superior, began in 1890 by Kelley Island Lime and Transport Co. to store limestone shipped by steamer from their mine on Kelley’s Island on Lake Erie. Now imagine exchanging your vows on the harborside deck overlooking the lake, complete with views of that historic harbor, Bayfront Festival Park and the Aerial Lift Bridge, itself a notable part of Up North history. The venue also offers a variety of indoor spaces, complete with more vistas of the harbor and skyline. Guest capacity is 225; catering and beverage service must be arranged through Pier B’s on-site facility.

Starry skies will twinkle above your event, no matter the hour or weather, when you host your event at the Granada Theater in Uptown Minneapolis. Built in 1927, the theater was one of the first in the Twin Cities to show “talkies,” and a dazzler in its day. The Spanish revival theater, renamed the Suburban World Theater in the 1950s, was closed in the early 2000s, but its original name and glamour are back, with painstakingly restored ornate statuary, towering colonnades and a vaulted ceiling painted like a clear night sky. The auditorium has been reconfigured to accommodate dinners for 300, and a full kitchen has menu options suitable for every guest’s tastes.

Combine the romance of a historic Mississippi River town and a hotel known for nearly 150 years of beauty and hospitality, and you have a fairy tale come true. At Red Wing’s St. James Hotel, five unique wedding venues range from the Victorian dining room, perfect for a cozy microwedding, to the Summit banquet room that boasts river views and seating for 240 guests. A full complement of services is available to cover every detail.

The chic ambiance of Greysolon Plaza, built in 1925 in the heart of downtown Duluth as the Hotel Duluth, offers two striking spaces. The stylish Moorish Room, which features intricate wall sconces, hand-painted murals and a mosaic tile dance floor, can seat 200 for dinner; its mahogany vintage bar is especially eye-catching. The Ballroom, a larger space with mahogany walls and magnificent chandeliers, has grand windows that reveal ornate architectural details. It can seat 375 for dinner; in-house catering and bar services are available, with options for a custom menu. Desserts and specialty items may be brought in on a case-by-case basis.

Once echoing with the shouts of buyers and sellers on the trading floor, the Grain Exchange in Minneapolis is now an elegant site for weddings and receptions large and small. Built in 1902, the venue boasts soaring 46-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows filling the space with natural light. With original architecture and artwork, the venue, an important part of Minnesota history, is loaded with character. The space can accommodate up to 400 guests, depending on setup; groups of 50 to 200 are optimal. The staff at the Grain Exchange is happy to suggest vendors that are familiar with the space, or couples can customize catering and beverage services with outside vendors of their choice.

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