White Castle Building Number 8 is a White Castle restaurant building in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was one of the few prefabricated, portable buildings built by the chain. It is presently operated as a jewelry store.
The building, measuring only 28 feet by 28 feet, has had three different locations in Minneapolis. The restaurant was originally located at 616 Washington Avenue Southeast near the University of Minnesota campus (in the Stadium Village neighborhood) in 1936. In 1950, the building was moved to 329 Central Avenue Southeast when the owner of the Washington Avenue property refused to renew the lease. In 1983, White Castle officials opened a new, larger restaurant a few blocks away from the Central Avenue location.
In order to save a piece of the city's architectural history, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission found a buyer willing to relocate the structure and save it from demolition. The building is now located at 3252 Lyndale Avenue South, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
Porcelain Steel Buildings, a subsidiary of White Castle, manufactured movable, prefabricated structures that could be assembled at any White Castle restaurant site. This design was built on the Washington Avenue site in 1936, replacing its 1927 building. The 1936 building is modeled after the Chicago Water Tower, with octagonal buttresses, crenellated towers, and a parapet wall. The founders later claimed that this design was the first successful use of porcelain as a building material. The success of the White Castle building method also spurred other Wichita-area entrepreneurs to manufacture portable steel buildings as well.
By 1950, the landowner of the Washington Avenue property refused to renew the lease. The reluctance of landowners to extend leases on small parcels was the reason why White Castle manufactured movable buildings. The chain moved the restaurant to the corner of Central Avenue and Fourth Street Southeast. However, by this time the company had failed to notice the population shift from central cities to suburbs, and it spent more time trying to survive in urban neighborhoods instead of building larger buildings in the suburbs. The company eventually recognized the business potential of building larger restaurants in the suburbs. Unfortunately, this meant that the smaller, older castle buildings became obsolete. In 1983, the company built a new restaurant in northeast Minneapolis. Fortunately, historic preservation efforts succeeded, and the building was moved to its present location in 1984.
Usually, properties on the National Register may lose their designation if they are moved or significantly altered. The federal program recognized, however, that early White Castle restaurants were specifically made to be movable.
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