Losing a link to the past or a local landmark is always difficult but thankfully there are a few creative ways to save or preserve an element of many of these. When the Granite Falls City Hall was razed in 2009, the beige “cast stone” raised concrete lettering from the upper facade of the building was removed and placed onto the upper façade of the new city hall.
The City of Clarkfield provided inspiration for that when, several years ago, they decided to preserved the round “19” and “11” stones that had adorned the top of the windows on each side of the front entrance the former city hall, indicating the year of construction. Those big round “19” and “11” stones are still on display, near the east end of the current Clarkfield City Hall that replaced the 1911 structure.
Both are a nice nod to the past. With that in mind, I was glad to see a rectangular block of limestone reappear on its nicely constructed platform along Granite Street near the driveway entrance to the new Yellow Medicine County Justice Center. That block of limestone came from the former Yellow Medicine County Courthouse that was constructed in 1889. It had served as the nameplate sign above the big arch that framed the Ninth Avenue main entrance to the courthouse.
When a one-story addition was tacked onto the front of the old courthouse in the 1950s, that big main entrance arch disappeared behind the new construction but the rectangular limestone block, while still in place, was now out of view except if you were standing on the roof of the new one-story addition. That limestone block and its lettering all came back into view when demolition of the old courthouse began in July of 2016. Thankfully when the limestone block was removed from the building, county leaders decided to preserve it for display as a nod to the county’s past and to mark what had once been there.
Interestingly, when that limestone block was removed from its perch on the north wall of the building there was a bit of a surprise. There was lettering on the back side, facing what had been a wall of bricks. While no one really knows why there would be lettering on both sides, County Administrator Peg Heglund offered one plausible explanation when pointing out that the stone carver had erred when spelling the words “Yellow Medicine County.” The letter “N” in the words “Medicine” and “County” is backward.
It’s pretty hard to correct a mistake that is carved in stone but the limestone block has another face to it and they simply re-did the lettering on that available back side, making sure the letter “N” was carved correctly. The limestone block was then put into its place during the courthouse construction in 1889 and the backward “N”s were out of sight. Interestingly, on that newly revised outward facing side, the letter “U” in the word “County” and “Courthouse” was now carved similarly to the letter “V” something that was not unusual on other stone carvings of that era. In a twist to this all, the side with the backward “N”s, has the letter “U” carved like a “U” not a “V”. Go figure.
Now after 127 years, that formerly hidden side with the backward “N”s (and the correct “U”s) is now on full public display facing south along Granite Street. A few years from now, someone will wonder about how this all happened. Maybe they can dig up this column to find a hint.
It was great to see the sizable crowd at what was billed as the first Granite Falls Design Summit last Tuesday evening. Granite Falls River Front Revitalization (GFRR) has done a nice job of engaging folks in discussion about embracing our river heritage and exploring ideas and opportunities for making Granite Falls a better place to live and for attracting new community members. Those are both necessary for the community’s future. We are fortunate to have GFRR members helping to engage residents to dream a bit about the community’s potential and its future.
The passing of former long-time WCCO radio announcer this week made plenty of us think back listening to his baritone voice announcing winter school closings as well as other early morning radio shtick with his old pal Maynard Speece and, of course, with his radio partner Charlie Boone. They had a special talent for connecting with, and tying together, a wide swath of Minnesotans.
It’s been said that Boone and Erickson at 37 years, were the longest radio announcing partners in American history and who can doubt that? Their talent had an essence of Minnesota that many of us saw first-hand when they and several other WCCO Radio announcers and personalities did a live, on-air variety show at J.B. Yates Supper Club to raise money for our tornado recovery on a Thursday night in November 2000. The next day the WCCO crew did their early morning broadcast from there during one of their “farm-city day” breakfasts. That all made for a wonderful show of state-wide community support. It’s all very fun to remember.