3/16/2011 MinneCulture


Wilbur B. Foshay: The Man & His Tower
Produced by Britt Aamodt

It was called the Tower. It didn't need another name. The Foshay Tower, at its founding in 1929 and for nearly a half a century, reigned as the tallest building in Minneapolis. Though the Tower sank into a period of gentle neglect, it was revitalized in 2008 as the upscale W. Hotel-Minneapolis. The same cannot be said for the Tower’s builder, Wilbur B. Foshay, whose comet-like rise as a powerful Midwestern utilities magnate was embodied in the obelisk structure. Just two months after the Tower's dedication, on October 29, 1929, Wilbur Foshay lost everything in the Stock Market Crash, save for his his reputation. That, however, was defamed in 1931, when he stood trial for mail fraud, in what was largely a Ponzi scheme.

Wilbur B. Foshay: The Man & His Tower, Part I

In Part I of this two-part documentary, Foshay: The Man and His Tower, KFAI producer Britt Aamodt explores the meteoric rise of the WB Foshay utilities empire, which at one time stretched from Minnesota to Central America. Combining interviews, historical research and Wilbur Foshay's own words, Aamodt paints a portrait of an era rash big dreams, economic speculation, and a bigger fall—telling the tale of how the Great Depression stripped Wilbur Foshay of his empire.

Wilbur B. Foshay: The Man & His Tower, Part II

In Part II of this documentary, Foshay: The Man and His Tower, KFAI producer Britt Aamodt takes up the narrative of Wilbur Foshay, examining his luxurious Minneapolis lifestyle--the houses, the gold faucets in the Tower offices--and how this bumptious businessman picked himself up after the Crash of 1929, only to receive word that he was being indicted for mail fraud. One of the biggest trials of the day took place in Minneapolis, sending Foshay to Leavenworth Prison, and a Minnesota family to their deaths, in the fallout from the trial. Aamodt follows Foshay after his release from prison, when the man who built the Tower sought to rebuild his life in small-town Colorado.

Listen to the entire documentary at ampers.org

Playlist Tracks: 
Air Date: 
March 16, 2011

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