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Common Ground 424 Northwest Minnesota Foundation Building

Common Ground 424 Northwest Minnesota Foundation Building


tools running Because of the kind of
organization that we are we really had kind of
a dream if you will. To be able to restore a building, or to reuse
a building to repurpose
something. And we’ve looked at other buildings
and when this came on the
market a year ago we took a look at it and we really
saw some tremendous potential. We we’re very excited
about it. So we started looking at it, did a feasibility studyppand really came to the point where we decided it actually
would be cost effective for us
to do this. Then we started looking
at what could we do with it. And that was probably
the most exciting. We knew we wanted to really recapture ppkind of the feel for downtown. To give back to looking
like multiple buildings instead of the big white wrap
that was around the building. and this was originally
four different buildings so that was really what we were going for.
So we started to do a lot of
research. ended up getting a bunch
of pictures over the years and let’s just say that the ’60’s and 70’sPPwhile they might not have beenppthat good in clothing styles weren’t that
good in building styles
either. So there was few things we knew that
we didn’t want to go back to.
So ultimately. what our dream was, was to be able to go back
to something that was really
more the true historic feel. We did a lot of researchppwe went to the depot. We got pictures from them.
We got pictures from various people in town, who would call us up andPPsay Here you’re looking at itppor we heard that they had pictures. A couple of my
personal favorites are some
that we got from the depot. One is from 1917
and it shows the building. with sailors marching down the street
on 3rd Street in front of the
building. I don’t know if a lot of people rememberPPbut 3rd Street was originallyppkind of the main street here in town a long time ago. We have aPPpicture from it’s probably thepp40’s or the 50’s that show a group of women having a race with
pancakes and frying pans in
front of the building It gives a really good picture of whatPPthe building looked like atppthat point in time. We have a picture
that shows a display in the window which
was war bonds and ration coupons of the war effort.
A window that would be right over to my left here
the main window of the
building. Upstairs there are about 20 offices that
are still kind of captured in
time. And one of them was the office
where people would come to get ration coupons. There was
lawyer offices. There was a beauty shop. We have some
in the Brrmidji book 1940-90’s we actually know who was in some of those offices.
And so this building has been you know just really a cornerstone
of downtown for over 100
years. We are here in the upper level of the old Wells Fargo
building and I am Jim Steenerson the senior program officer
for the Northwest Minnesota
Foundation. Everything we are standing
on here and looking at is approximately 100 years old.
Although some of the finishings are a little
bit newer than that. Here we are at 2012, so this building
really hasn’t been touched in the upstairs area
for the last 60- 70 years. If you look at the wallpaper. This wallpaper is easily
60- 70 years old. Who knows it might go back even further
than that. It’s got a retro
style so some of this may be even
coming back into style now. The outside walls as you can
see have got windows that are
all boarded up and our intent
is to open up all of these originally openings
and put in new window frames and new windows
that will match the original
appearance of the building. So from the
outside the upper level will look as close as possible
to when it was actually constructed back in the early 1900’s.
So it won’t be a totally historic renovation or preservation project but our intent is to try ppto bring it back as close as possible to the original
appearance of the building. What we are looking at here is a hole
that was knocked actually
through the lath and plaster to show
the exterior wall structure. The bricks that are laid in here
are common brick. And then
outside that is another layer of brick which is the finished PPlayer. And this was a commonppconstruction for brick walls back in that
day and age and actually it’s not so uncommon today either. PPThe lath and plaster isppinteresting if you look at this you can
see the lath were all made nailed on individual
on all the furring strips that were installed here.
And the plaster is actually made up of a mixture of
concrete and horse hair. that was embedded in the concrete
and the purpose of the horse
hair was just to add just a little bit
of strength to the wall
structure. One interesting feature about this
of course is there is absolutely zero insulation in this wall
cavity. So back then in the early 1900’s
this building was heated with coal, which was a very very
cheap source of heat In that they really didn’t have
these types of insulation
systems that we have now. So it wasn’t a big deal. ppCoal was cheap and that’s how they heated the building.
These were for signage that was attached on the outside of the building. PPAnd these will come out ofppcourse because they are just hanging there right now.
So everything you see up here
will be gutted out and then we will be
rebuilding the entire upper
level. The doors that you are looking
at here, are all original millwork that were installed
when this upstairs area was
finished. And so these are all approximately
100 years old too. Well there are several interesting
features on the door. One is the upper transom window which has a number on there that is a
backwards four as you can see.
So these were open to allow ventilation
for each one of the individual
offices. that was the purpose of that.
You can see the hinges right
up there. so those were just propped open
for ventilation. All of the doors have got a kind
of frosted embossed glass, which is kind of a unique feature.
You see this on some entry doors now.
But of course this was pretty
unique back in that day and age.
Another feature of the doors is the very very wide trim.
And this is typically either a mahogany
or an oak type trim and it’s a full 7/8 or 1 inch
deep. trim and real wide about 6 – 7
inches. and that was also typical of that era.
The other feature if you look at the lock down here
it’s got the old skeleton key lock in there. This was doesn’t work
so well but I think some of
the other ones door handles still operate freely.
I think then they’ve added another tumbler here
for security purposes but this is the original lock back in that
day an age and they used the old skeleton keys. So the janitor
probably had a big ring on his belt and had a
different key for every office that he had to get in to clean
in the evenings. So you look
at that door still swings very very nicely thank you. ppAnd it’s been hanging there for a hundred years and
it still works great. The woodwork in this upper level
like I mentioned earlier is all original millwork that
was installed when the building was constructed back
in the early 1900’s. It has a
really really, wide trim around the
doors. One of the neat features
about the door trim is the crown modeling
that was installed You look at that you get an idea
of what the original color was
like. and some of the scrolling features
that were prevalent on all of the modeling. And if you
also look at the finish on the trim you can see
that’s almost perfectly clear type of wood. It has virtually
no knots.. So that really really high grade trim.
In this day and age this type
of trim would sell $5 -$6 a board foot. So that one little chunk that you are looking
at up there in this day and
age would have cost about $12- $15 to buy that one board. ppAnd the crown modeling that would cost another
$15-$20. Just for those 2 pieces of wood that
you’re looking at. We talked a
little bit about the transom windows
that are above the doors in the hallway.
And this device is actually an operator that was used
to open and close those transom windows for
ventilation. You would push
this button in and then push this rod
up and down that activated that little lever system up there
to move the window out or close again. So it was just
a simple way to control that
window some fresh air into the room
for either ventilation or for
heat. And this says entrance
but we don’t know to what but obviously that’s a hand
lettered sign. and you can see the
frosted glass again. And
another interesting feature on this door is
it’s got an old mail drop. So
evidently they got individual mail delivery
with all of the offices up
here. And I can just imagine the
post man walking down the hall and opening up each one
of these individual mail slots and popping mail through the door
and no doubt it just piled up
on the floor. inside the offices. One of the interesting features
we found when we started exploring this upstairs
was this old fuse breaker box. And this is a really really
old piece of equipment if you look at the door. It’s got all
of the different rooms numbered here so each one of these
is assigned to a specific circuit on the panel and
these are all number too. Just the same way that you
would find a current breaker panel in the modern day
and age would have the names of all the different rooms
written along the sides. These
are all numbered and as you can see these
are all fuses which aren’t used anymore
in the current technology. But
this is an old original breaker system
probably one of the earliest types that was ever used. ppThe breaker panel was called a double break. So it actually
had two different types protection system and the
trademark up here is Frank Adam Panelboard
this company was established in 1891. So this was probably installed
in the early 1900’s. as part of this original
construction and served I would guess until
probably the 1940’s or 50’s. When the new technology was installed down in the lower level
of the entire building. Here is the interesting feature
this one has actually got the
name of on of the rooms is Barber Shop.
None of the other ones are labeled this one is empty otherwise
they are just room numbers but
this one says room number 18 was
the barber shop. But this is an old piece of history for this building
and as you can see it’s a
pretty massive chunk of equipment. The picture you are looking at right now is a PPceramic insulator and attachedppto that is a single piece of wire
that’s called knob and tune
wiring. And that was the original wiring
that was actually used to wire homes in this whole region
and across the United States. It’s really got poor insulation
and it relied upon the air around it for insulating
and so they had to screw those porcelain
insulators into the wood and then they would connect the wires
to it and that’s how they ran
wiring; when these businesses and homes
were first originally
electrified. And so you still find that type
of wiring systems in older
homes throughout our region. But for the most PPpart it’s been removed orppreplaced. when the homes are upgraded.
And what you are looking at
here are two wires and two insulators and if you look closely you canPPsee that the wire runs rightppthrough the insulator protected from the
wood. Without having the insulator of course this would PPbe a fire hazard and theppbuilding would burn down very quickly.
On of these wires carried
electricity and the other one was
a neutral wire. It didn’t have a ground like modern
wiring systems do now. So they just relied on the
hot and then the neutral for their electricity.
This is another old panel that has some wiring
relics in it. And we think
that this little box back there that insulator
was probably part of the
original phone system. Over here on the
left side you can see one of the
insulators sticking out and
these were used to run the knob and tube
wiring through the stud
cavities. we managed to pull this one out far enoughPPso you can actually see whatppit looks like. The coloration is
a little bit different on
these these are brown all the other ones
that were typically used for
electric wires are white so
I suspect that maybe this may have been used just for
a telephone wiring box. But they still use the insulators
to run the wiring through. On the inside of the door
is some writing, we’ve got a
218 there. I think this is before the
days of area codes. So that’s interesting that that’s
still our area code now. Who knows maybe that was the
first area code inscription
for the Bemidji area. And that
one’s got an 8 and we think it’s Gus
and then a last name that we can’t really tell
what it is. It looks like a T-A-U-R-T-N-E-R. perhaps Taurtner.
I wonder if there is a Gus Taurtner out there
who did some wiring in here. The original brick structure
over the building had actually archways
over some of the openings. So you can see there where
they were knocked off when the facade was reconstructed.
But if you look at the upstairs area
of the building. The stone lintels that went across
the bottom of the windows for the most part are still intact
so those can be salvaged. And the brick exterior is actually
in good enough condition on the whole upper level except
for the very very top portion so that we will be able to restore
that due touch pointing and replace some of the bricks
where they have been damaged. But the top section of this structure
should be able to be salvaged to almost original condition.
The ornate areas along the upper runs on the building are
still pretty much intact too. And those are really neat
architectural pieces of the
building. These features right here are part
of the original structure when
the bank building was constructed in the 1900’s. ppThis is a scrolled piece of stone. There is a name
of a company down here and you can see how this
was scrolled all the way up. And here you can see some of the actual writing PPthat was done when theppreconstruction was done to cover this. So a contractor
obviously used this to figure out some measurements
for the reconstruction instead
of taking time to go find a piece of paper ppto do his calculations. When the contractors were pulling off ppsome of the brick that was installed in the 1950’s. The
uncovered some of the old structure here
and here we have an inscription
it reads Sunshine Sept. 30, 1965 and it’s signed by Don Larson. We have absolutely no idea
of who Sunshine was or who Don Larson was.
But he evidently was one of the workers who was either
working on the building or
perhaps he wandered by at this point in time
when they were just covering
this up and decided he would put his
little signature on there. So that’s one of the pieces of historyPPthat we found on the oldppbuilding so far. So I think that the work that ppwe are doing on these buildings is not to do an accurate
historical restoration because as we uncover the facade
here you can see that there is an awful lot that has
been destroyed that is not
recoverable. But our purpose is to
try to bring the exterior appearance of the building
back as close as possible to what it probably look like
back in the early 1900’s. But in reality it will be
more like what the streetscape looked like in the ’40’s and 50’s.ppAnd that should blend very nicely with the appearance of the
rest of the buildings here along 3rd Street. Well when we originally
bought this building we really weren’t too optimistic
that we would be able to save alot of the exterior facade.
So we are very pleased that at least the upper level
of this building and the upper
level of the building on the end will be able ppto be restored to near original condition. We are going to do
are very best and our architect is also going to do his
best to try to match those features with any new
brick and masonry that will be installed.
So that it will be a nice looking building when we’re done.
It won’t be totally original but it will match the streetscape
that we have here right now. And we think that it is going to be a great additionPPto this corner of downtownppBemidji. This is such a prominent corner downtown.
And being able to add this vitality and this life to this cornerppand to bring 20 jobs downtown. And when were are doing
training another 35- 40 people or for meetings. You just
feel this energy downtown. and we are so excited about
being downtown. So the hardest
thing right now is we don’t get move in til probablyPPNovember and it’s going to beppa long summer.

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