1894 - 1925

Minneapolis in 1894 was still a town on the edge of the prairie, with a population of 190,000 people. Nicollet Avenue was lit with gas lamps and paved with red cedar blocks.

Two young and ambitious retailers, Fred D. Young and Elizabeth Quinlan, conceived the daring idea of opening an exclusive shop for “ladies’ ready-to-wear.” At the time there was only one other store like that in the country, in New York City.

“Why should a good woman customer have to go down the street to the milliner’s for a hat and some other place for her shoes?” asked Elizabeth Quinlan. “Why not sell her everything she needs right in one place, keep her trade, and specialize along these lines?”

On March 16, 1894, they opened Fred D. Young  & Company, at 513 Nicollet Avenue, in the rear of the Vrooman Glove Shop.

The first day, they sold out of their entire inventory of coats, capes, mantles, wrappers and gloves. Clearly, it was a good partnership.

After a fire in 1903 destroyed the building, the company moved to 716–718 Nicollet Avenue and renamed the store, “Young Quinlan Company.” At this time, the company was solely managed by Elizabeth Quinlan.

(With special thanks to Leo J. Harris)

Elizabeth Quinlan from The Story of Y.Q., published in 1926

Fred D. Young & Company storefront at 513 Nicollet Avenue, 1896

The Young Quinlan store at 716–718 Nicollet Avenue (1903)

Grand opening ad, top, for the new Fred D. Young & Co. store.

Interior of the 513 Nicollet Avenue store, 1896

December 31, 1923, stock certificate to Elizabeth Quinlan, valued at $410,000.00.

Ad from 1894. Fred Young and Elizabeth Quinlan set the standard for women’s clothing in the city.




Exterior drawing from The Story of Y.Q, published in 1926

The year is 1926, and Minneapolis is now a bustling town of 380,000. Calvin Coolidge is president, and the country is in love with their Ford Model Ts.

And Elizabeth Quinlan, who made her mark in the male-dominated rag trade as the first female buyer of ready-to-wear garments, is finalizing her dream.

She is opening a majestic Renaissance Revival building on the corner of 9th Street and Nicollet Avenue in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. It is her “Perfect Gem,” the Young Quinlan Building.

The building was designed by renowned New York architect Frederick Lee Ackerman. It was built for the then-staggering price of $1.25 million.

Opening day drew a crowd of over 20,000 people for Elizabeth’s “housewarming party.”

With its Old World grace and elegance, it quickly became a landmark in the heart of the city.

Interior drawings from The Story of Y.Q., published in 1926. “Approach To Entresol”


“Looking Out”

“The Y.Q. Ramp”

Gross Brothers gas station is razed for new construction.

The basement dig begins.

Construction moves quickly.

The first floor begins to be framed.

The building looks almost completely framed in by Christmas time.

The building is one month

away from finish.

One of the city’s premier buildings, 1926, and still so today.

Elizabeth Cecilia Quinlan (1863–1947)

looks upon her “Perfect Gem.”



1930s & 1940s

The Y.Q. building, in the heart of Minneapolis

Display case designed by Frank Post, first floor

The Grand Stairway, 1928


Main floor

Elizabeth Quinlan, main staircase

Main floor

Hat department

Main floor

No shopping trip downtown was complete without lunch at the Fountain Room, 4th floor.



1950s, 1960s & 1970s

Times changed, and the store could not keep up.

Main floor, circa 1960s

Main floor, circa 1970s

Main floor, 1970s

Fountain Room, circa 1950s

The elegant store slowly became more of a typical department store.



THE 1980s

For over 60 years the Young Quinlan Building graced Minneapolis with its elegant brick and Kasota limestone exterior, its sweeping staircase of travertine marble, wrought iron balustrades, crystal chandeliers and cathedral windows.

But the years had taken its toll on Elizabeth Quinlan’s “Perfect Gem,” and many in the city were arguing that it was time to tear it down. That is, until  Bob & Sue Greenberg, owners of The 614 Company, took control of the building in 1985, saving it from the wrecking ball.

“As a tenant in the Young Quinlan Building for nearly 20 years, I can say without reservation that there is no other office building like it in the Twin Cities. From valet service to the elevator operators to great views of Nicollet Mall, the historic charm of Young Quinlan is unmatched.”

          -- Russ Nelson, Principal/President, NTH, Inc.

Exterior condition of iconic corner, circa 1985

Exterior brick was in need of repair, circa 1985

Typical condition of parking deck, circa 1985

Typical interior condition, circa 1985

Typical interior condition, circa 1985

Typical condition of building, circa 1985

Fifth-floor condition, circa 1985

Typical condition of staircases, circa 1985

Exterior of parking garage, circa 1985

Fifth-floor condition, circa 1985




The elevator hallway on three retains the look and feel of 1926.

Under all the debris and neglect, the building still had great bones.

The classic elevator cabs were restored.

Doors as welcoming to enter today as the day they were first built.

Light fixtures were commissioned to resemble

and compliment the original 1926 fixtures.

Major tuckpointing was undertaken to maintain the structural integrity of the building.

All common areas were meticulously restored.

Upper floor windows were rebuilt to match the architect’s original design.

The original 1926 Otis Elevator Company

door handles remain in place.

After extensive work, both inside and out, the Young Quinlan Building is ready for the 21st century.

The YQ logo, over 90 years old and as stylish as ever.