When the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company relocated from Duluth to Saint Paul in 1910, all of the company offices and manufacturing operations were housed in one small building on Forest Street by the railroad tracks in Dayton's Bluff.
With the success of its sandpapers, 3M expanded into a second building by 1919. The offices were on the second floor.
As more products were developed and sales increased, more office and factory space was needed. In 1937, company president William L. McKnight announced a half million dollar expansion program that included Building 20 for manufacturing in 1937-1938 and Building 21 as the new administrative offices in 1939-1940.
Buildings 22, 23, and 24 were built for tape research and manufacturing over the following decade. Building 42 was constructed in 1950-1951 to house the company's expanding office staff, sales departments, and division heads, following a major reorganization in 1948.
As 3M expanded, it acquired properties in the neighborhood and demolished existing houses to provide sites for Building 24, the water tower, and the adjoining parking lot.
The administrative complex was the hub for the development of company strategies for research, product development, and product diversification. 3M's international division was also head-quartered in this complex.
The company headquarters relocated to a new building at the 3M Center in Maplewood in 1962. The Saint Paul Plant remained in active use until 2009.