A Celebration of Sustainability and Rural Landscapes at the NPC

We are delighted that Arlin Wasserman will give a key note presentation at the Closing Plenary on Saturday, October 6. Arlin is a leading expert in the development and marketing of rural branding. His approach follows the French concept of "terroir," thus he helps rural areas and producers bring together their unique assets of heritage, communities, countryside, locally grown foods, and other local products into a unique and authentic brand.

Arlin is founder and principal of Changing Tastes, a consultancy that provides strategic planning, economic development and marketing strategy insights to non-profit organizations, foundations, start-up food companies, and Fortune 100 companies. He is also a co-founder of The Robin Hood Center, a not for profit organized to create and manage branded food enterprises for the benefit of charities focusing on the alleviation of hunger and poverty.

The Washington Post on August 22 ran a feature on Arlin's work, entitled

"The Geography of Flavor - Bringing a European Idea Down to Earth: Producers, Farmers Pin Hopes on the Appeal of 'Terroir."

In addition to Arlin Wasserman, the Conference features a range of excellent rural field and ed sessions:

· Rosenwald Schools Information Session
· Farmsteads on the Fringe Field Session
· Preservation in a First-Ring Suburb
· Conspicuous Consumption and Rural Preservation Field Session
· Preservation Goals: Easements
· Preserving Local Dakotah Heritage Field Session
· Approaches to Reviving Small Towns
· Marketing Regional Flavor
· Preserve America Information Session
· Preservation Along Scenic Byways


Heritage Preservation in a First-Ring Suburb

There is a little bit of everything in this field session: something for the voyeur, something for the archaeologist, something for the historian and something for the consumer. I bet you’re wondering how this could be? Or maybe you’re not…but I’ll tell you anyway.
For the voyeur…visit the Country Club District. An early to mid 20th century planned residential district listed on the National Register for its effort to preserve more than 500 period homes.
For the archaeologist…take a walking tour of Williams Park. Here you’ll find the Edina Mills Archaeological Site and learn about the role of archaeology in historic preservation.
For the historian…visit the Edina Historical Society Museum, the Minnehaha Grange Hall(pictured below) and the Cahill School (pictured above.) Each of these sites represents a different story in the preservation of rural heritage and the integration of heritage preservation with city planning for community development.
For the consumer...visit the Southdale Mall. Enjoy a brief presentation on the history of America’s first indoor mall followed by a “self-guided tour”. You know what that means, right? Bring your money because you’ll have time to shop!


Lakewood Cemetery

Our thanks to Andrew, who sent us this fine missive:

"Excuse me if this place is already on your radar, as I have not yet read everything you have written. But it's such an amazing place that I had to risk the redundancy.

It's a Byzantine chapel in Lakewood Cemetery, resting place of Hubert Humphrey and scores of other famous Minnesotans. The interior is a huge mosaic that will blow your mind. Here are some photos of it:

The cemetery's website:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lakewood_Cemetery "

As a matter of fact, Andrew, Lakewood Cemetery is on the Minneapolis Overview Tour, and yes, that chapel is so spectacular, people get married in it....in a cemetery. How cool is that?

Andrew also sent some Lakewood, uh, residents:

Curt Carlson, Founder of Radisson Hotels
H. David Dalquist, inventor of the Bundt pan (Founder of the bundt pan?? should he not be sainted?)
Orville Freeman, 29th Governor of Minnesota, Former US Secretary of Agriculture
Lewis A. Grant, American Civil War General and Assistant U.S. Secretary of War
Hubert Humphrey, Vice President of the United States, U.S. Senator
Muriel Humphrey, Second Lady of the United States , U.S. Senator
William S. King, U.S. Representative
Robert Koehler, German-born painter
Charles August Lindbergh, Republican congressman, father of the pioneering aviator
Frank C. Mars, creator of the Milky Way candy bar (speaking of nominations to Sainthood...)
George Mikan, professional basketball player
Karl Mueller, Soul Asylum bassist
Floyd B. Olson, 22nd Governor of Minnesota , often considered the state's greatest governor
Rudy Perpich, 34th and 36th Governor of Minnesota
John S. Pillsbury, 8th Governor of Minnesota, Founder of Pillsbury
Carl Pohlad, owner of the Minnesota Twins (Pohlad is alive, but his gravestone has already been erected at the cemetery) [1]
James Sample, conductor of many orchestras including the Oregon Symphony
Tiny Tim, Musician & entertainer.
Paul Wellstone, Former US Senator
Juanita Wright, professional wrestler

- Lori


Garrison Keillor’s Home is on the Candlelight House Tour!

That’s right, not only will you have the pleasure of listening to Garrison Keillor’s soft story-telling voice at the Opening Plenary Session…but you have the chance to look at where the man lives, should you buy a ticket to the annual National Preservation Conference Candlelight House Tour. The Keillor home, as well as 12 other homes are all on this year’s Candlelight House Tour which will take place in the lovely Ramsey Hill Neighborhood, with most of the houses elegantly posed on Summit Avenue.

Just to show off, here’s a picture of us with Mr. Keillor who was as gracious as could be as he took us through his home.

Lori, Charlotte and I actually had the privilege of getting a preview of all the homes on the tour…and boy are we excited for those of you who decide to buy tickets! Each one of these gracious homeowners are excited to welcome you into their impressive homes which they have lovingly cared and decorated with a strong preservation ethic in mind.
Go on the tour and you'll see the interiors of these lovely homes....and more!


Minnesota Modernism: Marcel Breuer and the Saint John's Campus, Collegeville

As a self-professed traditionalist, I must admit that I was not thrilled about the prospect of spending a Saturday going off to explore Breuer's mid-century Modern church and the campus at the Saint John's University in Collegeville, MN. In my defense my only real interaction with modern architecture (and brutal at that) hails from my college days. As an exchange student at the University of St. Andrews (no, I don't play golf!) I was assigned to the Andrew Melville Hall designed by James Stirling. I lived in Andrew Melville for 9 months and it was brutal! Apparently the hall was designed with the notion of two ships passing, however, the way the students use to tell it was that the design was based on two ships colliding with each other. (See the photo at the right - they do look like they are colliding, yes?!) During my stint living in Andrew Melville is when I came to the conclusion that I am a traditionalist. Scottish winters can do that to you - cold and damp requires cozy and there was nothing cozy about our single rooms in Andrew Melville. But I digress - and you will see where I am going with this...

We had a glorious day to explore the Saint John's campus. After an hour's drive north through the Minnesota countryside we arrived at the Saint John's campus and were met on the front steps to the Abbey Church by Brother David Klingemann, the Abbey Archivist. Victoria Young, Professor at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul and Anthony Rubano, Project Designer with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency have been working with our own Chris Morris, of the Trust's Midwest Office to put together a stellar program about Breuer's work at the campus.

We met on the stairs of the Abbey Church and from there the discussions began about how to lead the group through the campus to give the best "wow". This is hard to describe, as I was along for the ride and was the only one who hadn't been there before.

We began with the public areas of the monastery and then headed off to the undercroft of the Abbey Church. This is a glorious space, the use of concrete and it's contrast with the wood and granite used is quite spectacular. The way the concrete was cast created a pattern and texture that gives the concrete a curious warmth. You will see this throughout the Abbey Church. Then of course there are the stained glass windows, which I tried to capture here - but as with most things are best in person.

Admittedly my breath was taken away as we entered the sanctuary. Breuer was clearly a master and while I am not ready to admit that I am a convert, I can more readily embrace Brutalism and perhaps other Modern structures. I think in the end it is all about the experience. I don't think that I would feel the same way had I not had the opportunity to see Breuer's work, especially the Abbey Church, in person. This field session only re-confirms that we need to be proactive in saving structures from the recent past.

Attendees will have an opportunity to attend the noon service in the Abbey Church before heading to lunch in the Great Hall. During lunch Victoria will lead a discussion about the architecture and function of the Great Hall, the interior restoration and the interaction of the earlier church with the Abbey Church. The day promises to be very full with ample opportunity to do some exploring of the campus. So if you are on the fence about modernism or if you are nutty about modernism and the recent past - this is the session for you. Chris, Victoria and Anthony will be fabulous guides through the allure of mid-century Modernism and Marcel Breuer's masterpiece at Saint John's University.


Thinking about Canoeing?

Ahh, traveling on the water. Take a look at the video linked to below, which pretty much follows the path you'll be taking on the Archaeology by Water field session (blogged about back in May)http://wcco.com/findingminnesota/local_story_301084811.html
(These ducks told me they wanted to be preserved, and not in a confit. So I put them in).

A new video to watch!

Lo these many weeks ago, I blogged about the field session "Parks, People and Preservation". Today, I was sent a link to a video, starring none other than the field session manager, MaryLynn Pulscher. Take a peek, then getcher ticket before it sells out (registration is open, you know, www.nthpconference.org)

Watch here (make sure to click the blue arrow to start the video): http://wcco.com/findingminnesota/local_story_084234100.html .

- Lori


What's News?

We love the comments we're getting, but we are greedy and we want more (you've seen us eating pecan buns, so you know what I'm talking about). We're still blogging about Saint Paul and Minneapolis, but we're also looking for contributions from the field. What do you see happening? What are the must-sees in the Twin Cities area that aren't yet on our radar screens? Send us videos, send us pictures, send us guest blogs. Send us cool sites to link to. Send them all to twincitiesconference@gmail.com.

Thanks from the Team.


Preserving Frank Lloyd Wright and Prairie School Structures in Minneapolis

So I figured that I would be in for a treat spending the morning to explore some of the Prairie style and FLW buildings in Minneapolis with Jennifer Olivarez, Associate Curator with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and I was not disappointed!

We began our morning with Cliff Johns at the Redeemer Missionary Baptist Church (Originally Purcell & Feick's 1910 Stewart Memorial Church) Although the church has undergone some renovations the sanctuary still maintains it's original character. Cliff will be your guide through the church. He has lots of stories about the renovation - make sure he tells you about the outpouring of community support to raise funds to renovate and restore the sanctuary. It is amazing what can be done when your community stands behind you!

Our next stop was the Purcell-Cutts house. Designed in 1913 by the team of Purcell and Elmslie for Purcell's family, this home is pure whimsy. I won't ruin the experience for you - you will have to sign up to get the behind the scenes look for yourself, but I will offer a "peek" at what is to come. (Look for it when you are in the house - hint, you can see it from the inside and outside)

Jennifer has also arranged for a special exhibit at the MIA of the history, significance and restoration of the Malcolm Willey House. The group will also have an opportunity to explore a Prairie School gallery. I would highly suggest that attendees find their way over to the MIA. They have a fabulous collection - make sure you look up heading through the front lobby. (Those of you that are Chihuly fans are in for a treat!)

The last stop of the day is the Malcolm Willey House, where attendees will have the opportunity to meet Steve Sikora and Lynette Erickson-Sikora, owners as well as their restoration staff.

Make sure to get your tickets early! This is a session that is not to be missed. Lots of behind the scenes and exclusive access - a particular treat for those of you (like me) that are fans of the Prairie School style and FLW.


Big Shoes to Fill in Red Wing!

Let's play a little game of association: I say "Red Wing", you say.... "puffed rice". No? Would you have said ... Art? No? I guess most of us would answer "shoes", or possibly "pottery". And Red Wing does have shoes, really big shoes (see example at left), and some wonderful pottery. But, as you'll learn, Red Wing is full of surprises, not the least of which is your first stop, the Anderson Center, originally the home and research laboratory for Alexander Pierce Anderson, who revolutionized breakfast by developing the method by which rice and wheat grains are puffed. It now serves as an arts and residential study center, offering a peaceful and contemplative place for creative types to, well, create.

Red Wing is still a busy industrial city. I saw several trains go through town during my visit, and dozens of tractor trailers in line to drop off soybeans, flax, and corn to the mills still downtown. But the City of Red Wing has also blossomed into an arts and tourism center. Shop at Historic Pottery Place Mall, an adaptive use of an old pottery factory, now housing shops and the Red Wing Pottery Museum. See the Sheldon Theatre, a wonderful restoration, some great residential neighborhoods, and enjoy lunch in the Victorian Room at the St. James Hotel, a recently renovated historic hotel. And Red Wing also has some preservation questions for our audience of professionals, one of which involves the old lime kiln pictured here...

Wear comfortable walking shoes (or purchase some while you're here) for this tour of a charming historic river town with a deeply- ingrained preservation ethic, and progressive strategies that have been hugely successful. And help them with this old thing while you're at it.
~ Lori


Saint Paul Government Town

Would you like to get a peek at the inner workings of the city that is hosting this year’s National Preservation Conference? Well then, have I got a field session for you!

Saint Paul is extremely proud of their preservation efforts…and rightly so. It has worked hard to foster a preservation ethic beginning with the Landmark Center (pictured at left) in the 1970's and maintains its commitment through countless projects in progress today.

This field session will take you to many impressive local preservation projects and will discuss issues of public/private partnerships, planning and maintenance of government buildings and building restoration plans used in the past and currently in progress. While learning about these hot topics in preservation you will be treated to some beautiful examples of restoration and renovation. Visit the regal cortile of the Landmark Center, which is not only a featured space on this field session but will also be the venue for the Conference’s Opening Reception. Gaze at the amazing Statue of Peace at the Ramsey County Courthouse/City Hall and learn details about the lush woodwork on each level of this public building. Enjoy a hard hat tour of the Warren E Burger Federal Building and see the painstaking detail involved in restoring this mid-century working courthouse. And finally enjoy a tour of the beautiful and majestic Minnesota State Capitol with a climb to the top where you will enjoy a dizzying view of Saint Paul and a glimpse of the Minneapolis skyline in the distance.

(Minnesota State Capitol Building)

So, if you’re going on this tour I have a few pieces of advice for you:
1) Arrive early at the Landmark Center where coffee/snacks will await you. This tour has a lot to offer and if you have a full belly and prompt departure you won't regret it!
2) Wear your most comfortable shoes. There is quite a bit of walking involved in getting to each venue and then inside the buildings themselves.
3) Be prepared to learn a lot! Your guides are extremely knowledgeable and are ready to answer all your questions.
4) Have fun!


Biking Through Saint Paul

Ah, temptation! You need not resist the great food and plentiful beverages at the Conference to keep your youthful figure! You can maintain your healthy lifestyle while in the Twin Cities and get excellent preservation education at the same time when you sign up for the Biking through Saint Paul field session. On a fabulous, sunny day, our hosts Mike Koop and Brian Horrigan of the Minnesota Historical Society began the 16-mile journey through the neighborhood of Summit Avenue. As it is one of the largest residential Victorian historic districts in the country, you will see Summit Avenue on the St Paul Overview Tour and the Candlelight House Tour (which we will blog about shortly), but seeing these magnificent houses by bike allows a completely different perspective. Learn about the evolution of the neighborhood, including some interesting renovations, additions, and some gorgeous gardens, then see The University of St. Thomas, a growing insitution in a residential neighborhood. Hear about the University's plans for eleven houses they own at the west end of Summit Avenue, and the reaction of the activist neighbors around them. Continue into Minneapolis, through Minnehaha Falls Park (running strong when we were there), and to the Minnesota Soldiers' Home, established in 1887. Your return ride includes some innovative mid-century neighborhoods, and more of Summit Avenue. The ride is mostly on flat or slightly up hill terrain, there are a few small hills that required some effort, but overall an easy and definitely enjoyable ride. An excellent and healthy way to spend a few hours.
Note that the ride will be on the street, but there is a bike lane (riding on the sidewalk is prohibited in St. Paul as in most jurisdictions, despite the person in the Ford Expedition who rolled down her window and shouted to me "Aren't you supposed to be on the sidewalk?" Uh, no, I'm not, share the road, please.) Traffic in the area is moderate, and there are a few street crossings, but with 20 of your friends on bikes, you'll make an impression. St. Paul is very bike- friendly, with many bike lanes and trails. We'll provide the bike, if you have a helmet you like, bring it with you to the conference. If not, we can get one for you. Once you sign up, we'll get in touch with you about all this.
Disclaimer: the top picture is not mine, I found it on the internet, but it was taken in September so the colors are beginning to change, as they will be at the Conference. It was taken from Indian Mounds Park, which is not on the bike tour, but IS on the St. Paul Overview tour. The other picture is the Minnesota Soldiers' Home, which you WILL see on the bike tour. I was really biking on this dry run, so my camera was not as handy as usual!


Fort Snelling

As an adult it is sometimes difficult to remember what it is like to feel like a kid again. But if you go to Fort Snelling you might just be reminded. This field session is a literal blast from the past. When visiting school kids are on the grounds you can hear the startling sounds of gun and cannon fire as the Fort’s interpreters, dressed in period costume, try to entertain and educate.

Fort Snelling is the state’s first National Historic Landmark and is often referred to as the birthplace of Minnesota. You will have a chance to view an exhibit that details the fort’s history at the visitor center and then take a walking tour of the grounds. Only three original buildings remain standing but every effort has been made to capture the fort’s original atmosphere and is used as not only an interactive historic teaching laboratory but is also an example of multi-interest partnerships in producing a renovation and restoration project open for both public and private use.

This field session will take you through not only the interpretive side of the Fort, but you will also have the chance to explore the currently undeveloped “upper post” where plans for restoration, renovation and usage are still pending.

So fill up your water canteens, dust off your compasses and put on your marching boots because if you open your eyes and ears you’ll learn a lot about historic preservation. But if you close them…you might see yourself as an officer in the infantry or as a lady in one of the officers’ families….and then only you know where you will go from there….



Red, Hot, Cool, Green and Creative

You’ve seen it in the movies a hundred times. Your favorite star must escape the bad guys by seeking refuge in some sort of power plant. You feel your adrenaline pump as they run through a maze of steel grates, high above the concrete floor, winding through a forest of pipes.

You might feel your heart pound in the same way when you take a tour of the University of Minnesota Southeast Steam Plant. Of course they’ll be no running for your life in this session. What there will be, however, is tons of information on how this Steam Plant reportedly became one of the cleanest burning and environmentally conscious facilities in the world while preserving the historic aesthetic of the original building.

Oh by the way, to add to the drama…this is a “hard hat tour”. So, you’re going to look as fabulous as I do in this picture when you’re on the tour. Come prepared with good walking shoes. High heels will not do on this tour.

Along with the steam plant you will visit the Science Museum and the Saint Paul District Energy building to learn how the past is being preserved while developing a plan to sustain future generations.


Preserving Local Dakotah Heritage

Growing up, I can’t say I was really all that interested in American history. I remember taking a history class in high school and not being able to answer the question: What was the Kellogg Pact? To tell you the truth I still can’t answer that. But I do remember my friend’s response: “To put 2 scoops of raisins in every box of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran”. Hahaha…I’m still laughing at that one!

But working for the National Trust has changed all that. To dry run these field sessions and use a city, and its past, as a living laboratory makes the past seem…well….the past seems more present. You can have that same experience on any one of the field sessions offered at the Conference.

For instance, “Preserving Local Dakotah Heritage” focuses on two of Saint Paul’s important spiritual and cultural preservation projects, the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary and the Gibbs Museum. Each of these projects has a unique story as to how the Dakotah tribe was approached to participate, what the process was to establish each of these sites as local preservation efforts and how each site continues to develop.

Your first stop at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary (picture at right) allows you to commune with nature and tells the story of how this sacred Dakotah site is slowly being preserved while simultaneously being made accessible as a living, authentic, educational experience for the surrounding public.

And then find yourself at the Gibbs Museum which is an interpretation of a time of peace and friendship between the Pioneers and the Dakotah people. The focus here is on the story of an early settler, Jane Gibbs, and her close relationship with the Dakotah. It is the Gibbs Museum’s mission to show how these native Indians were prolific farmers, quality craftspeople and good friends to Jane...who was kidnapped by missionaries and practically raised by the local Indians her kidnapper was trying to convert...

Makes you want to learn more, doesn’t it?


(The Gibbs Farmhouse)


Jewel of the Prairie - Owatonna Architecture

To be perfectly honest I didn't know much about Owatonna when I set out Thursday morning. After a drive down Interstate 35 from Saint Paul I arrived at the Minnesota State Public School for Neglected and Dependent Children. Little did I know that I was about to meet Harvey Ronglien, a very vibrant, positive and energetic man, who lived at the State School from the age for 4 for 11 years. At the age of 4 Harvey's mother was sent to a sanatorium with TB and his father was put in jail in Stillwater. Harvey and his seven siblings were lined up at the courthouse in Appleton, MN and offered in an orphan "firesale". By day's end Harvey and his brother Oscar remained and were sent to the State School in Owatonna. (Check out Harvey's book, A Boy from C-11: Case #9164 for more of his story) Harvey greeted me along with his wife, Max, Lisa Krampitz MainStreet Director with the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, and Nancy Vaillancourt, a local historian.

Harvey and Max have poured an enormous amount of energy into making sure the tale of the State School and its orphans is known and continues to be told. There is a lovely museum which pays tribute to those who walked through the doors. Over the course of its operation, 10,000 children passed through the doors of the State School. This was a full service campus, not only with its own schools, but also a farm, dairy, church services conducted by local ministers , and cemetery where children who died at the State School were buried. It seems that there were some in the community who did not know of the State School's existence until after it closed in 1977. The State then sold the campus to the town of Owatonna which now uses this campus for its town office, council meetings and a number of other service programs.

During lunch I had the opportunity to meet Ken Wilcox who was the bank president for about 20 years. I refer to him as "the" bank president because the bank has changed hands a number of times, but Ken was steadfast in the continued use of the bank that Carl Bennett built. As a side note Ken is actively involved with the Owatonna Foundation.

Yes, the bank I am referring to is the Louis Sullivan bank built 1907-08. My heart almost stopped beating at we parked on the town square, but truthfully I thought I was going to have a heart-attack when Lisa opened the door and the splendours of the interior were revealed.

As a high school junior I know that Mrs. Sittenfeld did her very best to convey the glory of Louis Sullivan's designs to a classroom full of antsy teenagers. Professor Laing did her best to do the same for this one time college freshman. However, nothing compares to the first time you walk through that door. I didn't know where to look first. Somehow pictures do not seem to do the interior justice, so I will let you experience these glories first-hand! Ken knows everything about the renovations and expansions of the last 20 years. He is still very involved in this part of bank operations although he is officially retired from the bank. He is full of stories and discoveries, make sure you don't miss the basement!

The rest of the afternoon involved a stop at the Federated Insurance building and some private residences in the neighborhood within walking distance of downtown Owatonna. This was a delightful day. Lisa and her team have put together a top notch field session and I encourage you to make the trip to Owatonna!


The AIA Guide to the Twin Cities is here!

As I opened my St. Paul Pioneer Press this morning, what did I see but an article about Larry Millett's new book, The AIA Guide to the Twin Cities, a neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide to Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Link here for the article. We'll be sure to have copies of the book at the Preservation Book Store on site during the conference.



Parks, People, and Preservation

I dry-ran the Parks, People and Preservation field session, on an absolutely beautiful day (I don't think we've mentioned this, but we have had the most glorious weather since we've been here). We explored how the Minneapolis Parks System balances the needs of the landscape, the many MANY users of the parks (we were there mid-to-late morning on a weekday - there were a huge number of people using the parks. What do these people DO for a living???) and the preservation of park buildings and landscapes as they were intended.

Not an easy balance to maintain. We started out on the Winchell Trail, which is just over the Minneapolis/Saint Paul border. Mary Lynn, the session manager, took me to a place where she could describe the ways that the park system maintains the landscape - challenging, thanks to a huge number of invasive plant species (in fact, invasive species of plants have come up in several field sessions). She encouraged me to gather bunches of garlic mustard, as it makes great pesto. I'll pass on the pesto, but was interested to hear that they have agreements with neighbors to come and gather the stuff periodically, as it is an evil invader. Those neighbors better get busy, it's EVERYWHERE.
I found it interesting that they choose not to mow in many places, and do not treat for dandelions (some fields looked absolutely yellow with them - hey, it's two weeks and it's over). Kids everywhere thank you.

Minnehaha Falls were running strongly at our next stop, where we also saw a real restaurant that Mary Lynn said was actually very good - does your city's park system have a restaurant? I thought not. We'll endeavor to try it before we leave, but, hey, we're only three mouths here.
There were many cool preservation stories at the Falls, including a 3/5 scale replica of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's House....in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Huh? Ask about it.

We then toured the other 9,999 Lakes in Minnesota. OK, not quite that many. Four. It's only a half-day session, so we kept it moving and saw much of the 50 or so miles that make up the Grand Rounds - a really unique urban park system. At Lake Harriet, we saw the band shell, and used a ladies room that was built in the late 1800s. OK, we used it when we were on the Overview tour dry run the NEXT day, but the important thing is that it was saved. And that it has a fireplace.

Some of the loveliest neighborhoods I've ever seen surround these lakes. There are a few stories of teardowns, and a few comical new homes (and what city doesn't have those), but overall the flavor of the era has been maintained.
When you all are here in October, the leaves will be changing, and the landscape will be absolutely beautiful in this very green part of the Midwest.
Want more? Watch the video about Minnehaha Park, starring your field session leader, MaryLynn Pulscher.

Duluth, Port City on Lake Superior

Do you remember the Gordon Lightfoot song, The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald? Well, out of the blue memories of singing this song in 5th grade came flooding back, but I digress. The lake is vast! Carolyn Sundquist, National Trust Advisor and field session manager, has put together a full day exploring this part of the western shore of Lake Superior. This session sets out early (7 am), but the ride is definitely well worth it. After loading up with coffee, Lori, Farin and I set out for Duluth. Our first stop was the Thompson Hill Rest Area where we got a great view of the city - practically at our feet. Carolyn met us here and after piling into her car we were off along the Skyline Parkway and heading to Glensheen.

We were met by Dennis, who spent part of his childhood at Glensheen. His mom was a friend of Miss Elizabeth Congdon, who was murdered (yes, murdered! Check out Will to Murder) in the house in 1977. Glensheen was built between 1905-09 for Chester and Clara Congdon. The house, including landscaping and furnishing cost $857,000 to build. Maybe the equivalent of $25 million today?!

From the exterior Glensheen is stately and stunning. However, once inside it is breathtaking! The Congdon's ordered the furnishings while the house was being built, so 99% of the furnishings and finishes were expressly made for the house.

They were a compassionate couple, perhaps reflected by being devout Methodists. They employed many of the girls arriving in Duluth from Scandinavia. Typically these young women worked for the Congdons until they got married.

In addition, the Congdons were the first to have a built-in vacuum system. Mr. Congdon got to fiddling with it and realised that the hose was extremely heavy - it was made of cast aluminum - anyway, he decided that vacuuming would be a job for the houseman or butler! This is only a sampling of what there is to learn and discover at Glensheen and Dennis is a much better storyteller than I am.

After a trip through the neighborhoods between Glensheen and downtown Duluth (even sneaking a peek at our esteemed leader's childhood home and church), we had lunch at the Kitchi Gammi Club. Kitchi Gammi means "big sky water" in Ojibway. This Jacobean Revival clubhouse was designed by Bertram Goodhue of the architectural firm of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson of New York City and is set on the shores of Lake Superior. It is a perfect stop for a bit of peaceful respite in the middle of the city and a very busy day. Be sure to ask your waitress about the horseradish served on every table.

Next stop the Depot. Did you know that Ellis Island was not the first stop for thousands of immigrants coming from Scandinavia, Italy, Germany and a host of other predominantly European countries? That would be the Depot in Duluth. This French Norman building, now a train museum and arts center tucked behind the public library, is probably the best train museum in the country. It definitely wows and is a train lovers paradise! Farin, Lori and I had more fun checking out the massive cars, the largest engine ever built and a myriad of train paraphernalia, while Carolyn struggled to keep us to our tight schedule - sorry Carolyn!

We had the opportunity to check out the Marine Museum and Aerial Lift Bridge - a mighty engineering feat. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn about the preservation challenges facing the Canal Park area. The Army Corps of Engineers operates the Marine Museum, offices, and public facilities and will lead the presentation and discussion.
This is a very busy day looking at the many faces of this port city. There is so much to see and do, but the day goes quickly and is jam-packed with information, amazing sites, and panoramic views.

The last stop on the way back to the Twin Cities is in Cloquet, where Ray Lindholm, owner of the Best Oil Company built a gas station. This isn't just any gas station. Lindholm was a friend of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright sold Lindholm the plans to the gas station from his Utopian City and here it is at the intersection of Cloquet Avenue and Sunnyside Drive in Cloquet, Minnesota. The station is still in use. Perhaps the best part of this story is that Terry Chartier, the gas station owner and his crew are savvy about this building and even think that it is pretty cool that so many folks come by to check it out.
It certainly can't be bad for business!



Happy Birthday

If you can stand by a moment for a bit of non-preservation related kvelling....Billy Joel celebrated his 58th birthday last night, here in Saint Paul at the Excel Center. I saw him first in 1985, and a few times since. Billy Joel is truly one of the greatest musicians in the world. His songs gently pull you in, then blow you away with layers of sound and poetic lyrics. In concert, he is entertaining, self-deprecating, generous to the audience (especially those in the bad seats), funny, and he's a great mimic. He did a version of "Like A Rolling Stone" and sounded more like Dylan that Dylan does anymore. Highlights included one of his guitar roadies coming out and signing, I kid you not, "Highway to Hell" (sounded just like AC/DC), and Billy doing "Big Shot" in a hip-hop style (backwards baseball cap and related....movements). Just terrific. Closed with "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and "Piano Man".

I would have recorded more, but my camera was full of pictures of Duluth, which Charlotte will be blogging about later.

This has been a public service announcement. Now back to our regular programming.


Flour Power

My first dry run was to St. Anthony Falls, and it was not at all what I expected. Not being particularly familiar with the milling – or hydroelectric – history of the area, I approached our first stop with a bit of wonder. Why was the Stone Arch Bridge, which I knew to be historic and lovely and all, included on this tour? Well, darn if it doesn’t go practically right over the falls, and is a preservation victory. You can see some interesting examples of where the utilities were trying to make the power lines aesthetically pleasing, as well as see where humans have over time changed the falls to better harness their power. The mighty Mississippi (can anyone type that word without singing it? I can’t without missing a p or an i) also flows below the condo project being created in the Pillsbury A Mill, from which can be seen one of the great urban vistas anywhere, as well as some pretty vertigo-producing 4-story tall flour towers. OK, I don’t think they are actually called flour towers, but it’s descriptive. You’ll be able to peer into them as I did today. Just don’t get dizzy. You will also be able to walk down the four flights of the mill and see how the flour was produced. You’ll then visit the new park that opens in June, which will allow you to get right up to the Falls. It will be spectacular, and illustrates a terrific example of creating beauty and recreation space for people from a traditionally industrial area that still works. From there, visit and snack at a beautiful Victorian home in the residential neighborhood of St. Anthony Falls Historic District, and walk to the Congregational Church. Built (as most things are in this part of town) with money from a Pillsbury, the Church was saved in creative ways by neighbors and congregants.

Here is my nomination for “Best Restroom, Field Sessions 2007”. The proprietors request that you not use the tub during your visit. This is in the sales office of the condominium project. I considered buying one, then realized it would be a heckuva commute.

Archeology by Water

Did you think that field sessions were only by bus, bike, or foot? Well, not this year. We spent this afternoon with David Mather, National Register Archeologist with the Minnesota Historical Society checking out Fort Snelling and Pike's Island from the water, yes you read that right, the water! Lori, Farin, and I, your intrepid Trust staffers, helped paddle a 240 pound cedar canoe on the Mighty Mississippi River (bet you forgot that she started so far north!) and around on the Minnesota River. It was wild - think a cormorant, an egret, a peregrine falcon, blue heron, swallows and lots of ducks - and truly wonderful! Jim Cummings our guide and steer master regaled us with tales of the discovery of Pike's Island, Picnic Island (yes, there are picnics tables on it) and other really cool stories.

Truth be told we didn't really do this all on our own. David, Jim, Pat, Stacey, Mike, and Joseph did some of the paddling and story-telling too. I hadn't gone canoeing since I was 12, which means that any of you can do this. No experience is required - I don't think that Farin has gone canoeing before - and you go as you can. (Something tells me that Farin wasn't paddling at the back of canoe - she rode more like Scheherazade, but she can tell you all about that!)


PS I stand corrected Farin has been canoeing!

PPS: Watch the video that follows the path you'll be taking in your canoe - and a touch of the history you'll be experiencing:


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