This nondescript building, located just west of the electrical substation on Lake Street, may look like any other, but it has a story that is still shrouded by myth.
It all has to do with Prince. Although the superstar was from Minneapolis, he was no stranger to St. Louis Park. As a teen he would take the bus to the Roller Garden; judging from his dancing he was probably pretty good on skates! Park High alum David Rivkin (class of 1966) recorded Prince’s first band, Grand Central, in 1975. Musician/promoter Owen Husney (’65) was his first manager, and Lauren Siegel (’65) put him up in her house for over two years. Matt Fink (’76) and Bobby “Z” Rivkin (’74) were in Prince’s band, the Revolution.
After his early success on record, Prince decided to make a movie. He and the Revolution spent the summer of 1983 in what was dubbed “the Warehouse,” writing the songs and the script for the film that would become Purple Rain. They worked with acting and dancing teachers—Fink clarifies that the building was used only for rehearsal and that no filming was done here. A couple of songs were recorded using Prince’s home equipment, but without a separate room for the console, the Warehouse wasn’t practical as a studio. The song “Purple Rain” itself was recorded at First Avenue on August 3, 1983, during a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theater, which had been providing dance lessons to the cast.
The building had many other lives—a rubber factory, a dog equipment company (“with that pedigree quality”) and a modeling agency—before it was demolished and replaced with the Highway 7 Corporate Center in 2007. But we can be proud that the now-immortal Purple Rain was born right here in St. Louis Park.
Jeanne Andersen is secretary of the board of the St. Louis Park Historical Society. Learn more about the city’s history at the website here.