The Foshay Tower is a skyscraper in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Modeled after the Washington Monument, the building was completed in 1929, months before the stock market crash in October of that year. It has 32 floors and stands 447 feet (136 m) high, plus an antenna mast that extends the total height of the structure to 607 feet (185 m). The building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, is an example of Art Deco architecture.
The Foshay Tower was the lifelong dream and namesake of Wilbur Foshay, an art student turned businessman who amassed his fortune by building up three utility company empires (operating as the W. B. Foshay Company). At the time the tower was being built, he had sold his previous two empires in turn and was building up his third (which was eventually to stretch from Alaska to Nicaragua). He planned to locate his business and residence on the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth floors where a three-bedroom, three-bath suite was built, with a fireplace and library, Italian Siena marble walls and glass-paneled ceilings.
Foshay invited 25,000 guests to the dedication ceremony and provided all-expenses paid trips to many who included cabinet members, senators and congressmen. Half-nude dancers entertained. Each guest received a gold pocketwatch. The military gave 19-gun salutes. John Philip Sousa conducted music, including “Foshay Tower–Washington Memorial March” a march he wrote for the occasion. Foshay presented Sousa with a check for US$20,000.
The march was only played once during Foshay’s lifetime. Six weeks after the building’s opening on November 2, 1929, Foshay’s corporate empire was thrown into receivership at the onset of the Great Depression. Ignominiously, Foshay’s check to Sousa bounced, and in retaliation, Sousa prohibited the playing of the march so long as Foshay’s debt to him remained outstanding. Foshay never lived in his new home, which also went into receivership. It wasn’t until 1988 when a group of Minnesota investors repaid Foshay’s debt to Sousa’s estate that the march was permitted to be played in public again.