Years before Bachelor Farmer, martinpatrick3, and the sleek lofts and hip advertising firms that have invaded the North Loop, Anna Hillegass had plans for the old Commutator Foundry building on the corner of North First Street and Second Avenue North.
Her father has owned the building for more than 30 years, and there was always something about it that inspired Hillegass. “The brick, the wood—it’s a lot like the farmhouse I grew up in,” says Hillegass, who was raised on 40 acres near Orono, where her mother still lives and grows dahlias and heirloom tomatoes. Their house, situated a mile down a dirt driveway, was heated by wood stove. “That imprinted me with the patina of things,” Hillegass says. “The falling-down character of the house—cozy sheepskin rugs, fresh bread baked in a cast iron stove. Everything was a little dirty but always beautiful.”
At The Foundry, the beauty is in the simplicity. Glass carafes. Crisp white linens. Thick sheepskin rugs. Objects so classic, they would be perfectly at home in a traditional Colonial or a modern loft.
Hillegass developed an eye for design working for Holly Hunt at International Market Square. She started as an office assistant and worked up to fabric librarian.
She moved to New York for a training program with Christie’s auction house, then landed back with Holly Hunt in New York, doing floral arrangements, color schemes, and eventually sales.
But home beckoned. When Hillegass returned to Minneapolis in January, she was excited to see how the neighborhood around her father’s North Loop building was coming to life. “It was as if the universe wanted it to happen. The neighborhood started to blossom, and I became confident enough in my skills to take this on.” She brought in lines produced by a couple of her favorite New York stores, Canvas and Ochre, and clearly was inspired by their spare, utilitarian aesthetic. “There are so many stores in New York that are so simple but so cool,” Hillegass says. “Minnesota deserves a store like this.” We completely agree. 125 N. 1st St., Mpls., 612-333-8484, thefoundryhomegoods.com