In 1902, the brand-new Minneapolis home at 3504 Columbus Ave. received a splashy advertisement in the Minneapolis Daily Times, one that highlighted the “full cemented basement” (this space will come loudly into play decades later):
The State Sunshine Society’s annual bazaar, featuring “a style show, beauty contest and dance,” was hashed out at that Powderhorn address in 1923 by committee head Mrs. L. H. Caswell and her friends. A 1963 ad displayed a headshot of then-resident Mrs. Floyd Drew exclaiming, “I always call Roto-Rooter.” (The drain company had saved her Thanksgiving celebration the previous year, we’re told.) By 1992, the property was listed for sale as a duplex with the asking price of $44,900; it would last change hands for $35,000 in 1999, according to county records.
From 2011 through this past June, 3504 Columbus was known as “The House of Lard,” though that branding would only appear in local zines and fliers. For the Twin Cities punk/hardcore community, the house was an essential part of the basement-show circuit.
“I would say it was massively important to the DIY scene,” says Connor Lynch, an original Lard tenant who lived there until last year. “It spanned the time that warehouses came and went. There were like 14 active show houses at the time it was launched, and toward the end… there’s just the two: Lard and Disgraceland, at least in south Minneapolis.”
The first day Lynch and his buddies moved in, they threw a “huge” show. For the next five years there would be an average of three concerts per month, with mostly punk, hardcore, and crust bands packing the basement of the 2,982-square-foot house.
At any given time, four to five folks lived in the Lard, and they’d coordinate booking bands—local, national, even international—with friends at Extreme Noise Records. The cover charge rarely topped $5, Lynch says, and nobody was ever turned away for lack of funds. Acts like False, Thou, Cloud Rat, Iron Lung, and the Men were paid anywhere between $400-$1,000 to perform for hundreds of showgoers who’d spill up from the basement.
“The house was picked out because it had a sick basement, that was the mission,” Lynch explains. “It’s a big concrete box with two pillars in the middle, crumbling walls for sure—it never got tuck-pointed—and very damp and dungeon-like, probably more so toward the end after 10 years of beer being spilled in it.”
Memorable shows include the MayDay blowouts that would cram “close to 500” people throughout the house. Billed as “The Night of Unspeakable Class,” the annual Valentine’s Day parties functioned like a punk-rock prom. Lynch fondly remembers the time Olympia, Washington, hardcore band Gag played the Lard.
“Directly after, a couch got cut in half with a chainsaw in the living room,” he says. “There were sparks everywhere.”
Cops were an inescapable presence at “almost every” Lard show, Lynch says. One especially rowdy nine-band MayDay bill resulted in police surrounding the house for hours. “We definitely thought we were going to jail,” he says. “It was that kind of party.”
Lynch lived with around 30 different roommates during his decade at the Lard, and maintains close friendships with almost all of ‘em. He bought a house down the block in 2020 as COVID-19 stifled shows and the landlord toyed with hiking rent. “It didn’t make sense for me to live in there anymore,” he says, “if it was going to be expensive and a shithole.”
Lynch’s current roommate, Jack Dzik, moved into House of Lard in June of 2021. He’d be among the last class of punks to call it home.
“We received a two-month notice to vacate at the end of March, with no reasoning or anything,” says Dzik, who had attended shows at the Lard since he was 15. “We got a letter in the mail and all started freaking out.”
The $1,700 monthly rent was being split four ways at the time, he says, but the landlord threatened to jack it to $2,800 “for what was basically a house that was kinda always falling apart.” (The owner, Ade Esuoso of Top Choice Dwelling, didn’t respond to our request for comment.)
Seeing no way out, the final Lard residents decided to go out with a very, very loud bang that resulted in a $2,000 damage charge from the landlord. Detractors, Kapital, and Lynch’s band, Surrogates, provided the soundtrack à la the RMS Titanic orchestra. Dzik acknowledges some graffiti, but claims the landlord tried to stick them for other, unrelated repairs that had been neglected for years.
“Definitely the $2,000 was a direct result of the last show, which was awesome,” Lynch says with a chuckle. “There was a tone going around the scene that, ‘It was the last show, trash the Lard.’ It was a big reunion.”
(A benefit show last month sought to recoup those costs; there’s also this GoFundMe.)
Recently, the erstwhile punk house at 3504 Columbus Ave. re-hit the rental market for $4,000. The Zillow listing has zipped around group chats to the shock, horror, and/or amusement of former House of Lard residents and fans. Gone are the sticky layers of High Life and grime; in are the gray-washed LVP flooring, carpet, and walls that have become synonymous with flipped properties. Lynch, who watched painters and carpenters come and go all summer, is skeptical of the flip quality. “They just really polished that turd,” he says.
While House of Lard may be dead, lost to the same market forces that are slowly gobbling up the last affordable area in south Minneapolis, the future remains unwritten for our city’s young punks.
“It was one of the last houses in Minneapolis that had true punk squatter vibes,” Dzik says. “With the scale of shows that we were having… there are just very, very little DIY spaces in the city of that caliber. But also it’s energizing to start that up somewhere new.”
Lynch, now a scene elder at 34, agrees.
“Minneapolis was a dreamy place 10 years ago,” he says. “There were three warehouses, everything that was happening on the West Bank, a lot of experimental places. The wave of houses that were in Southside… it was a different time. But I feel like every young person that wants to pick a lock or run a shitty house will do it. They’ll find a way.”