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November 1, 2023

Preserving the Past, Crafting the Future: The Story of Warehouse 2 and Farwell on Water

Historic photo of the original Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk & Company building exterior from 1902
Source: https://lowertownlanding.com/lowertown-history-historic-photos-images

Farwell on Water is more than just a modern real estate development in St. Paul—it’s a tribute to the ingenuity and ambition that have shaped the city for generations. This new development takes inspiration directly from Warehouse 2, a historical landmark, and its parent company, Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co., key players in St. Paul’s early commercial and architectural landscape.

The Gilded Age of Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the United States experienced the Gilded Age, an era of unprecedented economic growth, technological innovation, and social change. Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co. rose to prominence during this transformative period in St. Paul history.

The term ‘Gilded Age’ was coined by writers Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in their 1873 book, “The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today,” which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding. Yet, this was also a time when businesses boomed and the seeds of modern industrial capitalism were sown.

Leading the Charge in Industrial Supply

Specializing in hardware and machinery, Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co. served as the backbone for local industries in St. Paul—ranging from lumber mills and railroads to manufacturing plants and construction companies. Their quality products and reliable service made them essential to the St. Paul economy and the surrounding regions.

A Hub for Trade and Commerce

Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co. leveraged St. Paul’s strategic location along the Mississippi River and its burgeoning railroad connections to facilitate trade across the broader Midwest. They were instrumental in establishing St. Paul as a focal point of commerce.

Historic photo for old Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk & Co. Warehouse 2 building

Warehouse 2: A Marvel of Industrial Architecture

By 1911, the need for larger storage spaces had grown substantially. Warehouse 2 was commissioned to meet this demand. With its multi-level design and advanced features like reinforced concrete and large freight elevators, it was a state-of-the-art facility for its time.

Construction in 1911 wasn’t without its challenges. Materials like steel and concrete were costly, and the engineering standards of the time were not as advanced as today. Yet, despite these hurdles, Warehouse 2 was completed on schedule and became an immediate asset for Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co.

The building was a showcase of industrial architecture, featuring robust load-bearing walls, large arching windows, and detailed cornices that added a touch of elegance to its otherwise utilitarian function. This mix of aesthetics and practicality made Warehouse 2 a landmark, reflective of the ambition and ingenuity that defined St. Paul during that era.

The Legacy Lives On: F-O-K Studios and W2 Works

Over the years, Warehouse 2 has seen multiple uses, ranging from its original role as a storage facility to now serving as a hub of art and entrepreneurship in the form of F-O-K Studios and W2 Works within the Farwell on Water district.

These spaces are designed to breathe new life into Warehouse 2, converting it into a dynamic hub of creativity and commerce. F-O-K Studios caters to artists in search of inspirational workspace, combining the building’s historic elements with modern amenities to foster a unique creative environment. Artists can find solace in the building’s sturdy structure, which has stood the test of time much like the enduring qualities of art itself.

F-O-K Studios rendering

W2 Works takes a similar approach but gears its space on the 6th floor towards businesses and entrepreneurs. Recognizing that the entrepreneurs of today are the Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co.’s of tomorrow, W2 Works aims to provide a space that melds history with innovation. Here, amidst the architectural elements that tell a century-old tale, a new generation of business leaders can write their own stories.

Building on St. Paul History: The Future of Farwell on Water

As Farwell, Ozmun, Kirk, & Co. helped to shape the St. Paul of yesterday, Farwell on Water aims to influence the St. Paul of tomorrow. This development is breathing new life into the area by offering residential, commercial, and cultural spaces enriched with history.

With the scenic Harriet Island as its front yard, Farwell on Water seeks to integrate the natural beauty of the region with contemporary architecture and amenities. All of this aims to create a cohesive community space in St. Paul, fostering social interaction and economic growth, much like Warehouse 2 did in its heyday.

So, whether you’re a history enthusiast, a modern-day artist, or an aspiring entrepreneur, Farwell on Water, with Warehouse 2 as its cornerstone, offers a space where the past and future converge in a beautiful symphony. Come be a part of this exciting chapter in St. Paul’s history.


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A quiet hideaway between the bluffs and the banks of the Mississippi River, Harbourline offers 66 income-restricted units in the Farwell-on-Water development, located on
St. Paul’s west bank.