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Locus Architecture Finds A Treasure-Trove of Lost History

Friday night, the firm will show off newspapers from the 1940s, found in the ceiling during office renovations.

You find a lot of things beneath the plaster and drywall when you renovate an old building—mouse nests or dangerous electrical wiring insulated by nothing more than a thin cotton sleeve.

When Kingfield's  pulled its office's ceiling down during a renovation earlier this year, workers found hundreds of copies of local newspapers from the 1940s. They had apparently been installed as insulation.

"It's been amazing looking through it," said Locus Architecture's Paul Neseth.

Several of the old newspapers Neseth and his co-workers rescued from their ceiling have been mounted and will be on display during a free reception at Locus' offices, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4.

So how did the newspapers get tucked into the ceiling in the first place? Neseth supposes they were repurposed by an insulation manufacturer and wrapped in brown craft paper before being sold to builders.

The old issues of the Minneapolis Star and the Times Tribune form a kind of Minneapolis time capsule from the early 1940s, Neseth said, from attitudes about World War II to ads for old products like "mysterious" nylon stockings. Neseth found a photo of Adolph Hitler and Winston Churchil.

"They were asking 'Who do you think will win the war?'" Neseth said. "Knowing what happens a year later in 1941, it's kind of amazing that they’re treating it like a sporting event."

In another edition of the paper, Neseth said he came across a photo of Hitler and his aides at the dictator's birthday party from the same year—reminiscent of contemporary celebrity news. The headline above the jolly scene: "A Good Time Was Had By All."

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