Wayzata, Minnesota

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sepia Saturday - 8 March 2014

Good fences make, entertaining moments over any fence.


Thank you Wendy Mathias, for bringing us backyard fences, or the Bubonic Plague of 1900 in Sydney for our theme.  

Curiously enough, I'm going for fences!

Let's travel about eight miles east from my own backyard, and in case anyone is worried about high fevers, or any other ailments, there won't be any.  But, I'm not promising that there won't be any broken hearts, lost dreams, or possibly a shady deal disclosed.

Reaching Farmington, Minnesota, about 1880
based on a true story.

My first known name was, The Exchange Building.  Sometime in 1880 you would have seen me sharing my urban quaintness, along with a sturdy group of my friends.  We were content to innocently erupt smoke from our chimney pipes in our town composed of weather beaten buildings, even though we were being replaced one by one.  We were quickly being strung together with less wooden structures than years before.

 My roots reach back to, Claus Dittmann and his discovery of  Augustus Gauger (a bit unknown) and his commission for my design as the new bank in downtown Farmington, Minnesota.   Dittmann and Gauger were both German immigrants so it stands to reason through the common thread of language and culture why my stature is of such fine character. 

Augustus Gauger, was a young architect when he began his career and I'm still very proud to say that my building is of his sound design and unlike the shoddy buildings from our day.

Gauger's knowledge of carpentry and architectural engineering was his asset and for the city of St. Paul, Minnesota as well, where he served as the city's building inspector from 1884 to 1885.  Gauger was also responsible for some of the finest work on Summit Avenue, in St. Paul.  

432 Summit Avenue St. Paul, Mn  

295 Summit Avenue Built in 1885  at a cost of S13,000, by Albert H. Lindeke and designed by, A.F. Gauger.

It was quite common to discover that a house or place of business constructed during the city's building boom was often not structurally sound.   A great number of walls collapsed or toppled on new owners or construction workers.

People described me as, a magnificent example of 19th Century Italianate architecture.  Not so much today, and I'd really rather not express what they say about me now.

Did you know the wooden, contraption before me did not survive the great fire on November 22, 1879 (Flames over Farmington here) when most of downtown was destroyed?  

So many of my good neighbors suffered greatly from that fire in 1879.  The photo below is of 

C.R. Griebie's building (burning in 1972) that was originally built in 1880 to replace the building that burned to the ground in the Great 1879 fire.

December 1, 1972 brought another wicked fire to Farmington.  This is C. R. Griebie, home to hotels and lodge rooms.

HAVE WE A FIRE-BUG AMONG US?  Yes, sadly it was true, the fires of 1879 and after, were arson related.

But seriously, I'm still a handsome structure even if it's just me saying so. 

Sure there are parts of me that are, slightly weathered.  Seriously, I am 134 years old.

Yet, my glorious, Grand Hall with maple hardwood floors and a high tin ceiling makes it painfully obvious, just how stunning I can be.

Of course, like any old crone, I've had my share of attacks throughout the years.  Like the time a car ran into me.  


Sometime after that, the Browns (my current owners) removed brick walls and did extensive updating to my woodwork and other restorations necessary.

But between you and me, and the evening news on occasion, the Browns, (a father and son team) aren't on most folks happy list these days.

I mean who in the world ever had the idea of selling me, this decorated mass of stunning, Italianate design to them for one dollar!  

Sure it was in the hopes and legal documents, that they were to have me brought back to my original condition.

Ha! Ha! HA!

Farmington, Minnesota - 1910

This photo is part of the Lakes and Woods Postcard Collection, and can be viewed here, along with other postcards.

So here I sit, empty and all by myself, and still very curious why the city of Farmington had to sell me for one measly dollar?  Especially, during (a still prosperous) late 1990's in the hopes that my historical body would be put back to life once again.

Yep, this is me yesterday, on a very grey March day in March 2014.


TexWisGirl said...

what a cute pair talking over the fence. :)

La Nightingail said...

That first photo of the two gentlemen visiting over the fence is charming. As for the building that's been through so much, it looks like it's been fairly well kept up on the outside. How long ago was the interior shot of the grand hall taken? It looks like an ideal place for important gatherings. I wonder what the Browns intend to do with their $1.00 purchase?

Mike Brubaker said...

Excellent post and a very creative introduction to the preservation of historic buildings. I live in an historic neighborhood too and many houses are now on their 5th or 6th generation families (usually unrelated) that call them homes.

aspiritofsimplicity said...

I just love that first picture. It is sad to see such beautiful old buildings fall into disrepair.

aspiritofsimplicity said...

I just love that first picture. It is sad to see such beautiful old buildings fall into disrepair.

Jackie van Bergen said...

Another Saturday and another amazing old building - you have quite a collection.
Am enjoying seeing them.

Jo Featherston said...

Your wonderful first photograph made me think of that funny Tim Allen sitcom Home Improvement, in which Tim often discusses problems with the neighbour, but the neighbour's face is never shown. Much better to chew the fat with your neighbour face to face though! Nice building history too.

Kristin said...

It looks good to me, but maybe it's not being restored to the original condition?

Cloudia said...

Great post, voice of the voiceless!


Little Nell said...

Very creative to give the old building a voice, and a fine structure it is, still looking good despite what it has witnessed.

Brett Payne said...

An entertaining moment indeed, thank you.

Joan said...

Such a feeling of substance and strength, both in words and photos. Thanks.

Leovi said...

Yes, I like to see the difference in time of these buildings! Beautiful photos!

Anonymous said...

Talking over the back fence. I'm surprised that more of us don't have similar photos. i know i don't have one.

Wendy said...

Clever to make the houses tell their own story. LOVE IT!

Postcardy said...

It looks like there is still hope for that building. at least it hasn't been demolished.

Alex Daw said...

I love 295 Summit Avenue. It looks a lot of fun though probably takes a bit of effort to keep clean ;)

Rob From Amersfoort said...

Great building, full of allure. Very well suited for high teas and dance events. I also image a chic restaurant in there.