The City Of Granite Falls was informed this week that it has been awarded a $154,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society that will allow it to refortify the aging foundation of the 135 year old Andrew J. Volstead House.
How could they turn it down," asked Granite Falls Historical Society member Terri Dinesen rhetorically. "We had a sizable match and it's a National Historic Landmark... What more notable project can you have than that?"
According to Dinesen, the Granite Falls Historical Society has been aware of the weakening substructure of the National Landmark for some time, and in 2011 sought and successfully obtained a $5,500 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society that was used to finance an inspection as well as subsequent recommendations for repairs.
"Even before it was purchased by the Minnesota Association of Cooperatives in 1976 and donated to the city for use as a museum in 1978 you could see there was settling that had happened," Dinesen said.
The inspection was performed by Eugene Dwyer of LSE Engineers, of Le Sueur, and Bob Claybaugh of Claybaugh Preservation Architecture, out of Taylor Falls, in August of 2012. The analysis confirmed historical society expectations, recommending extensive amounts of restoration, plus the removal of three problem tree.
"The tower seems to be deteriorating the most," said Dinesen. "Inside, you can see where the beautiful staircase is pulling away from the flooring upstairs––so restorative efforts are mainly trying to deal with the tower settling and where the mortar in between these big rocks has turned to sand." In addition, Dinesen noted that the work would deal with potential moisture issues, taking necessary steps to ensure that any water is draining from the infrastructure."
Dwyer would suggest that the repairs were not urgent, but nevertheless something that the city and historical society needed to move forward on without delay.
Locals would heed the advice, and earlier this year the Granite Falls Historical Society submitted the Minnesota Historical and cultural grant, using a $30,000 match, comprised of donations left over from the organization's failed attempt to acquire and relocate the BNSF Depot, to bolster their chances.
While considered a formality, the work plan still needs to be reviewed by the Historical Society Grants Office before any work may commence on the structure. According to Dinesen, the historical society should receive approval well before any work begins most likely in the spring or summer.