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Bergstein, Moritz, Shoddy Mill and Warehouse
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Moritz Bergstein Shoddy Mill and Warehouse is located in Minnesota
Location: 6046 Stagecoach Rd., Oak Park Heights, Minnesota
Coordinates: 45°2′11″N 92°47′34″W / 45.03639°N 92.79278°W / 45.03639; -92.79278Coordinates: 45°2′11″N 92°47′34″W / 45.03639°N 92.79278°W / 45.03639; -92.79278
Area: 0.9 acres (0.36 ha)
Built/Founded: 1890
Governing body: Private
Added to NRHP: March 05, 2008
NRHP Reference#: 08000133[1]

The Moritz Bergstein Shoddy Mill and Warehouse are two buildings in Oak Park Heights, Minnesota listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The owners, Moritz and Bertha Bergstein, settled in Oak Park Heights (then known as Oak Park) in 1890. They were in the business of recycling waste material. The shoddy mill, a rubble stone building, was used to recycle waste fabric into material to stuff mattresses.[2]

Moritz Bergstein was known as the "junk man" in Stillwater, and in addition to making mattresses, he also operated a salvage business.[3] He recycled waste paper, rags, scrap metal, and wood shavings, and he built a machine that tore up the rags. He employed several women to fabricate the mattresses. Later, Moritz entered into a partnership with his brother, Ignatz, to form a mattress making firm. Although Moritz eventually discontinued making mattresses in Oak Park Heights, he continued to buy and sell waste materials, mostly scrap metal. When he died in 1923, he left behind "about 500 tons of iron and old junk", valued at about $3000. The Stillwater Daily Gazette called him "one of the best known men in Stillwater" and noted that he was "always honest and straight forward in his dealings."[4]

There were few Jewish settlers in Minnesota in its pioneer days, so the story of the Bergsteins provides insight into early Jewish life in Minnesota.[3] The Bergsteins emigrated from Europe in 1880, during a time when many Jews were emigrating from eastern Europe, but Moritz was born in Germany and Bertha was born in Bohemia. While many Jewish immigrants dealt in used goods and recycled materials, the Bergsteins were atypical because they lived in a town distant from other Jews, engaged in light manufacturing, owned property soon after they moved to Minnesota, and hired non-Jewish workers.[5]

The buildings were most recently used by an auto repair business. The business is slated to close at the end of October 2009, and the buildings will be moved to a site in nearby Stillwater to clear the right of way for a new Minnesota State Highway 36 bridge over the St. Croix River.[3] The new site is known as the Aiple Property, and is being developed as a city park. While the relocation of buildings on the National Register is discouraged, the parties involved agreed that relocation is preferable to demolishing the structures. The new setting was chosen to be similar to the old setting.[5]

References

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