The Dayton’s building in downtown Minneapolis was built in 1902 and initially housed Goodfellow’s Department Store. In 1903, George Draper Dayton opened Dayton’s Dry Goods Company in the space. Fast forward to 1947 when it was common for department stores to have elegant dining rooms to keep shoppers fed, happy, and spending money.
Dayton’s in-house architect, Robert Hansen, designed two modern and sophisticated dining rooms on the 12th floor. The Oak Grill served men (women had to be accompanied by a man to enter the dining room until the late-1960s) and the Sky Room catered specifically to women. When building the Sky Room at the downtown Minneapolis store, Hanson used all kinds of design tricks to give the enormous room a glamorous scope with slate grey walls, floor-to-ceiling windows, a curvaceous white ceiling, luscious draperies, state-of-the-art indirect lighting, and eight magnificent Waterford chandeliers. It became the public’s penthouse with a panoramic view of downtown, and it was a massive hit for Dayton’s.
By the 1970s, women who worked downtown began to outnumber the ladies who spent their days shopping and lunching with friends. The Sky Room started offering express lunches and a well-stocked salad bar to accommodate the growing downtown lunch crowd. To do that, the Sky Room received a 1970s makeover with additional seating and darker, earthy decor. The glamorous chandeliers were removed and put into storage (some eventually made their way to the sales floor).
The glamour of the Sky Room was lost, but the elegance remained until the Sky Room closed on January 27, 2017.
New England Clam Chowder
- ¾ cup celery, chopped
- ¾ cup onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 quarts milk
- Roux (equal parts butter and flour blended into a smooth paste)
- 1 pound potatoes, cooked and diced
- 8 ounces clam juice
- 8 ounces clams, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- Saute celery and onions in butter until tender. Add milk, then bring to a simmer.
- Thicken slightly with a roux. Simmer 15 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients and then simmer for another 15 minutes. Season to taste.