Considered the anchor of Miracle Mile, Red Owl opened on August 28, 1951, at what was then the easternmost end of the first phase of Miracle Mile. It featured a Kiddy Corral with TV and comic books. Red Owl was started in Rochester in 1922 – the Miracle Mile store was the fifth in the metro area. The new store, boasting 12,000 sq. ft. of floor space, was managed by Clark Messman. In 1951 the Village Council approved a request to build its own garbage incinerator behind the store.
The store was remodeled in 1958 – Norman Stover, manager.
Photos above and below, December 1959
Tragedy struck when the store caught fire on October 26, 1973. The fire started in the suspended ceiling above the produce room and spread quickly between the roof and the false ceiling. A worker in the meat department discovered it at 2:10 p.m. and evacuated the building; one shopper noticed flames over her head. Heavy black smoke poured out the back door and through the mall’s internal ventilation system. The roof collapsed, seriously hindering firefighting efforts by the St. Louis Park, Edina, Bloomington, Richfield, Eden Prairie, and Hopkins fire departments (aided by local teenagers who held down hoses).
The Minneapolis Star reported that Red Owl Manager Gary McCulloch was seen wading through the water, rescuing the “soggy but safe” money from the cash registers.
By the time the firefighters broke through the front glass, the fire had spread across the entire ceiling.
It broke over the firewall to Warner Hardware; although paint cans were exploding, the fire department successfully prevented a worse inferno. Fifteen other stores suffered smoke damage.
Red Owl did not rebuild: Warner Hardware replaced it as the anchor of Miracle Mile.