A construction boom took place in the upper post of Fort Snelling when the Department of the Dakota moved its headquarters to the fort in 1879. Building 63 was originally constructed to house the Quartermaster’s Shops for this new part of the post, but later became the Post Exchange.
Originally lit with oil lamps, electricity was added in the 1910s. In 1926, it was converted into eight sets of apartments for non-commissioned officers and their wives. The one bedroom, one bathroom apartments had hardwood floors throughout and were heated by a fireplace and small wood stove. Each apartment was approximately 700 square feet.
Building 63 is the most recent building to be razed at the upper post. Prior to demolition, an array of obvious structural problems went unheeded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Serious problems, such as gaping holes in the roof and voids in the joints between exterior bricks were documented as early as the 1980s. By 1998, a survey of the building found that “brick work on the [outer] walls does not use common bond construction, using instead metal ties between the withes. These have rusted through and the outer withe of brick has collapsed in a section of the east wall.”
Recommendations to stabilize and mothball the building fell on deaf ears. By the next documented survey of the building in 2006, the center section of Building 63 had entirely collapsed. The following year, even more of the building had toppled, leaving only a small, two-story section at the northern end standing. That section of the building held on proudly until a bulldozer tore it down in 2010.
Commonly Known As: Quartermaster’s Shops
Building Number: 63
Year built: 1879
Last year of occupancy: 1980
Square footage: 6,102
Ownership: State of MN – DNR
Fort Snelling State Park Upper Bluff Consultation Team, Fort Snelling State Park Upper Bluff Reuse Study. Minneapolis: 1998.