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Doors Open Minneapolis offers an inside look at 100+ buildings free event returns May 18 and 19

Have you ever passed a building and wondered what it’s like inside? Your chance to find out is coming up this spring when more than 100 Minneapolis spaces take part in Doors Open Minneapolis.


The free weekend-long event, set for May 18 and 19, was announced Thursday at the Mikro Kodesh building, once the largest Orthodox synagogue in the Upper Midwest and more recently a non-denominational church, known for feeding the hungry. Mikro Kodesh, with its stained-glass Stars of David and more recent crucifixes, will be one of many buildings visitors can explore during Doors Open Minneapolis.


“The doors are open, that’s literally the nature of the event,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “You can come right in, check out the place and get a tour from someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.”


This is the third Doors Open event to take place in Minneapolis. The first was before the pandemic in 2019. In promoting this year’s event, Frey brought up the fact that it wasn’t too long ago when Minnesotans couldn’t come together, in Minneapolis or anywhere else. “This is an opportunity to celebrate, to check out extraordinary buildings, to meet with incredible people, and to celebrate who we are as a city,” said Frey.


Last year’s event with 87 venues drew 14,000 people who made 55,000 individual visits. The 2024 Doors Open will likely attract even more people given the greater number of participating spaces.


The Doors Open Minneapolis sites are divided into eight categories: Civic, Historic, Arts + Culture, Sacred Space, Education, Infrastructure + Sustainability, Made in Mpls, and Business + Commerce.


Some of the City’s best-known buildings will be offering behind-the-scenes tours. Among the biggest names are the Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis Central Library, City Hall, the Hennepin County Courthouse, Huntington Bank Stadium and the Foshay Tower.


Some of the sites on the list aren’t even buildings, like a manhole on Nicollet Mall. City staff won’t let guests go down into the sewers, but a closed-circuit televising truck will show what’s happening below street level. City staff will also be on hand to teach visitors what happens to water once it goes down our drains.


That manhole isn’t the only site taking a deep dive in how things work. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, the Blue Line Operations and Maintenance Facility and the Traffic Management Center all promise to show you things you don’t normally get to see.


Theater buffs can check out the Capri, Granada Theater, Hollywood Theater, Mixed Blood Theater, the Music Box Theater and Theatre in the Round.


For people interested in Black history, there’s the Minnesota African American Heritage Museum, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and two African Methodist Episcopal churches, Mother Saint James and St. Peter’s.


At most of the venues, visitors can go straight into the buildings. Only a few locations--Architectural Antiques, Orfield Laboratories, Target Plaza Lights, and the St. Anthony Hydroelectric Plant--will require tickets. Information about how to get tickets will be coming soon on the Doors Open Minneapolis website.


Heidi Swank is the executive director of Rethos, formerly Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, the non-profit producing the event. She’s come up with incentives for anyone who volunteers to work a four-hour shift. Volunteers will receive t-shirts and an invite to a post-event appreciation party. However, the best incentive may be the VIP status granted to those who share their time. “You get a special sticker that when you go visit the buildings, you don’t have to wait in line,” said Swank. “You can hop right to the front.”


Volunteers can pick the location where they want to be stationed. Swank urges people to sign up soon, since some buildings no longer have any open volunteer slots.


Doors Open Minneapolis is sponsored by Comcast. Kalyn Hove, a Comcast leader, said, “This is an opportunity for people to be come in and be reminded how blessed we are to live in a city that offers so much.”


Jeanine Aropoulos owns the former Mikro Kodesh Synagogue, which is also known as Disciples Ministry Church and Pastor Paul’s Mission. The building contains many walk-in freezers and coolers as well as a huge hole in the sanctuary floor, which was used to hoist food up from the basement. Aropoulos and her late husband used to distribute food by the truckload to thousands of hungry Minnesotans.


SInce her husband’s death, Aropoulos has been trying to develop the building into a mixed-use space. “I wanted it to be housing, a restaurant, groceries on the lower level and then just church services, so just everything people need in the community,” said Aropoulos, who found the project too costly to do on her own.  She’s now hoping one of the visitors to her building may be a developer who’d like to buy it.


If you’re interested in volunteering or checking out Doors Open Minneapolis, go to https://www.doorsopenminneapolis.org.

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