Mainstreet Radio: St. Peter, one year after the tornado: Historic preservation & rebuilding

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A Mainstreet Radio special broadcast from lobby of Nicollet Hotel in St Peter. A discussion on efforts to re-build, and preserve historic buildings, with guests Judy Bell of the St. Peter Heritage Preservation Commission; Charlie Nelson of the Minnesota Historical Society, and local residents.

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NPR's Main Street radio coverage of rural issues is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening. Good morning and welcome to a special Main Street radio broadcast from st. Peter. I'm Rachel rebe. It was a year ago today that over a dozen tornadoes roared across southern Minnesota killing two people and causing millions of dollars of damage in the communities of comfrey Le Center. And st. Peter today. We're going to talk about the efforts to rebuild Saint Peter one of Minnesota's most historic cities. Some of the landmark buildings here were leveled in the storm the site where the City's community center once stood is now a vacant block and many other buildings including over a hundred homes have been torn down and hauled away.But along with the tragedies, we're triumphs Minnesota public radio's are Hughes looks at the progress Saint Peter is made to rebuild and restore its history. First the tornado peeled the roof off of Nancy georgette's 125 year old home. Then a cold steady rain soaked the plaster walls oak floors and Furniture after the terror of riding out the storm and the adrenaline-fueled days afterward cleaning and bracing against any further damage. Georgette says, she couldn't allow herself to think too far into the future just in the past few months. She says she's been able to look forward. I've never been been weaker than this last year spiritually or emotionally or physically andIn that I didn't know what that felt. Like, I've always been strong in a lot of ways. This experience has been really humbling because we are weak in the face of things like disaster. Georgette's magnificent Yellow Brick House stands out more now than it did before the tornado. The three houses directly to the south of been demolished all of them. Well over a hundred years old and her yard is bear of the Aged trees that once shaded it. She says she started to feel at home again since about Christmas but so much has changed forever. It's hard to look out the front door. That was when we moved back home. None of the inconveniences bothered me as much as walking out the front door and seeing how things looked the park being so bare and missing having neighbors many Landmark buildings near georgette's home. Some of the city's most historic structures are gone the Saint Peter Arts and Heritage building the community center the German Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church of all been demolished most since the 1st of this year. Like Georgette homeowner Phil Bryant and his family decided to rebuild their historic home. I don't know if you want to call it a rootedness or stupidity or probably a little bit just like your dad's home the roof blew off and rain-soaked the interior, but unlike the drawer debts Bryant and his family are still months away from moving in many walls are still skeletal defined only by bear 2x4 studs. There's no kitchen or even Furniture his insurance company says it's a total loss still Bryant decided not only to rebuild the house, but to revive its historic appearance a decision. He says he's question many times since it would have been easier for him. He says and much cheaper to knock it down and build a new but it would have been harder on Saint Peter. It was a good choice in the sense that it's the the town has lost so much of what it was before. And so many of the the old historical houses have gone down such decisions to hang on to the structures of st. Peters past still occur daily on usually a smaller occasionally larger scale revealing the value rather than the price locals place on them. The Nicollet Hotel came within days of being torn down over the protests from residents and ad hoc Business Partnership bought it and restoration continues today in contrast. No amount of community outcry could save the badly damaged Arts and Heritage Center. Other than personal determination the thing that tips the balance in favor of historic preservation is 1.3 million dollars from the state to help people rebuild st. Peter planning and development director Shannon Sweeney says local and state incentives may have made the difference between rebuilding or not in some cases. They've also spurred some pre tornado Redevelopment plans that had languished we've been able to work with those individuals that have already had that commitment to the st. Peter Community to work on those projects, you know that have been initiated over years and perhaps even give them a little bit of a push to even take them a little bit further than what they might have been able to on Sweeney's office wall 177 pushpins in a Saint Peter map Mark the spots where a house or store building was torn down because of the tornado. It's a graphic depiction of the tornado's path through the heart of town. But Sweeney is optimistic saying the destruction opens up opportunities to rebuild thoughtfully and with planning for instance. The city has a To bury electric lines and eliminate unsightly overhead wires. It may also lay down Fiber Optic Cables adding state-of-the-art communication to this historic town opportunity is also a word homeowner Nancy Georgette uses if people can defer immediate Comforts a little longer. She says and instead labor on the elements of a more noble Vision than the tornadoes Legacy doesn't have to be just about what it destroyed as I drive around and see the choices people make and the way they put things back together and that continued the energy it gives me energy to and that's what I think about when I walk up to our house at night. I hope that people go by and feel some sense of hope that we can put things back together and we can take something difficult and bring maybe greater good out of it. Georgette salvaged an old door from her neighbor's house just before it was torn down her husband Dan spent hours refurbishing it. Now. It serves as their back entrance. She says looking at the door gives her great satisfaction because it's something she saved and of all the many things that were wrecked or discarded Nancy. Georgette says it has effort put into it and that gives it meaning I'm Art Hughes, Minnesota Public Radio. You are listening to a Main Street radio special. I'm Rachel riebe, and we're broadcasting today from the lobby of the old Nicollet Hotel one of a dozen st. Peter sites listed on the National Historic register last year's tornado took the roof off this 1873 building, and it was considered a total loss by the insurance company. The wrecking crane was assembled and ready to tear it down. When an eleventh-hour reprieve came hastily formed group of investors bought the Nicollet hotel and have spent the last year restoring it. It's one of the success stories in the aftermath of last year's tornado. We're going to talk about the challenge of rebuilding historic st. Peter this hour. My guests are the chair of st. Peters historic preservation commission Judy Bell and state historical architecture Charlie Nelson with the Minnesota Historical Society. We've also invited Joel and Kim Brinker to join us. They and their two children are still living in the Attic of their grand three-story Victorian home while repair work on the rest of the house continues. Good morning and welcome to all of you. Learning. Our phone lines are open for your questions and comments. You can call us this morning at one eight hundred five hundred 75252. The number again, 1-855-828-4646 Charlie Nelson, you called the devastation in st. Peter one of the major disasters of the century. As far as the Minnesota Historical Society is concerned Why well, st. Peter has a very rich Heritage dating back almost a hundred and fifty years and st. Peter also has a quality in its community and it's architecture that in my opinion is unparalleled in the state of Minnesota. There has been a pure desire to preserve to enhance and to continue to live in this community and promote its Vitality living side by side with history and yet planning for the future and when we heard about the tornado on March 29th, the reaction at the state historic preservation office was just appalling we had heard that the devastation here was broadcast that virtually all Lincoln said sustained some type of damage some of which were in the point of probable collapse and at that time it was thought that we needed to make a trip down to st. Peter to do a reconnaissance. The governor's office had already contacted the Minnesota Historical Society right after the tornado had gone through and on April 1st a team from the state historic preservation office in the conservation department of the Minnesota Historical Society made a trip to st. Peter to take a look at how things what the situation was here to take a look at the way things were here. We were one of the few Vehicles which was allowed through the barricade the whole city was cordoned off at that time Judy Bell. Let's talk about what you saw when you came up from your basement a year ago. Total devastation around me fortunately. I did not sustain any damage and that is of course the strange nature of a tornado but directly across the alley were large trees that had fallen down and windows had exploded there was a toilet in the backyard and somebody's bread making machine like, you know, just damage and debris everywhere across the street and I'm right by the college so I could see all the damage up there all the windows blown out you grew up in st. Pierre and have just a real place in your heart for the historic structures in this town. That's one of the reasons you told me you moved back to town. Well, that's correct. I'm fifth-generation on my mother's side from the first settlers in town here and even growing up here. I had a great love for the feel and the look and the whole atmosphere and in California course, everything is new and stucco and square and and has no character most for the most part and I always dreamed of someday being able to reside again in a community like this. So suddenly, I just did it and I've been busier than ever and it's been I believe in destiny. And I think I had just become chair of the Heritage preservation commission. Just prior to this incident and the day that Charlie and the Angela and the people from The Struggle Society came down was a godsend because that was exactly the kind of help in the stirring of energies that was needed. Our phone number here is one eight hundred five three seven 5252. If you have a question or a comment give us a call today as we broadcast from st. Peter in those days right after disaster like you sustained here last year is there so much emotion and so much pressure to make decisions and sometimes to make bad decisions because everybody's under the time gun. Yeah, that was exactly it. So many people the insurance people the construction people and just to mention not to mention the trauma of the people that own the buildings and the homes, of course, I can't even imagine what It must have been like for all of these people like the breakers that are here today and many of the other homeowners and building owners. But that was what was this combined Drive was to let people get the word to save the bricks save as much of the original woodwork as you could find that was lying around don't make any rash decisions if possible. If you're in an older home, you know, we tried to get the word out about the funding that was coming through the help and the city was incredible here. We had a new development and economic director in a new city manager and I have to credit the staff the people that the ladies that work there on the regular basis that have done such a tremendous amount of work with because we had new people but everybody team together to get the word out to everyone Flyers were put around town. I mean on the radio everything I was running around knocking on people's doors and saying do you know that there's money because decisions really were being made that fast. Yes, Julian Kim. Is that what it was like tell us where you were the night of tornado and what sort of damage did your house is staying Well, we came to town just after the tornado. We were overly centered and we stopped to see Kim's grandparents there. We hadn't heard on the radio that there was much damage and st. Peter. So we kind of took our time but coming down the hill and Highway 99 we can first thing I saw was like the steeple was gone and that just coming right there. When we finally did get into town. I drove by our business and saw the colorful aspect of yarn from our yarn store destroyed out about four or five blocks. It was very colorful and some of the good parts about it, but when we got to our house just to see the devastation all around us it just the shock said in and it took a long time for us to just settle down and and take a look at things and say what are we going to do? How are we going to do it? And Kim was there pressure to make a decision quicker we tearing down and rebuilding we moving. I mean all these things just kind of going through your mind overlaid on the emotions of it. Definitely. We didn't know what we would do at first and I remember a couple days after we were standing in the middle of our first floor in the rain was coming in on us and we couldn't figure out why the two floors above it weren't stopping it from coming in and and we had friends and family there and and we were all talking and we were seriously saying at that point that it just looked it just looked too hopeless and we were going to take it down and then we did hear from you know, there is going to be funding available and we ourselves had to wait a week for an engineer to get out and let us know structurally whether that was going to be possible or not to rebuild and it was a long week. We were in shock I think most of the time and you know Didn't even know where to find people no phone no lights. No nothing. I remember one contractor. We just he was driving by and we just flagged him down, you know, Joe ran out in front of the car pretty much. Yeah, so making these decisions but not having really any of this not even having the electricity the phone you'd really didn't have anything to work with. All right and a close relationship with the city and so it was a chance to I got a lot of information from everybody down there Shannon Sweeney was fantastic as far as letting us know that yes, there's some some funds available through the historical society that have come through you need to look at your house and see whether or not it's structurally sound to to keep it, you know, the roof had blown off half of the roof had to be had to be completely replaced porch is gone and just just to see what to do with it. And well, it's normal when you look at at the pictures, which I look at now and I can hardly relate to to what we all saw but when you see the devastation, it's All to think of the person who's living at home thinking it's a total loss. It is a total. How could we possibly bring this back and yet all of these people in along with the funding and all the support and just the character the end the will of the people in town. It has come back and all these beautiful buildings have been saved most would have been easier to tear down. Oh absolutely so much. He's taken a tremendous amount of will but I grew up in this town like Judy. I'm a fourth-generation family in this town. My kids. Our kids are here. I actually grew up five blocks away from the house. I live in a so this is my old neighborhood and to see these old houses. It's just the heritage of the Saint Peter is a part of my blood. I served on the Heritage preservation commission many years ago to a so, it's always been a very strong concern of mine to maintain and make sure that we can repair or retain. These old buildings. These old houses in their look as best we can I probably have been the more Optimist one in the in the family are Our as I said, my catch catch word again right away was was opportunities in listening to the tape about Nancy Georgette and everybody else that the word opportunity jumped in real fast. And I said boy, this is our chance to to to decide to rebuild this house fix it up and do some things that we probably wanted to do later on 10 years down the road, but now they need to be done now. Well, that's the thing is so many of the of the buildings the homes are they look better than they did before funny little additions have been taken off and and do some, you know new trims replaced and Peyton in many ways. It has caused the city to be absolutely revitalized. If you have a comment or a question about the progress of st. Peter or about last year's tornadoes calls at one eight hundred five three 75252. I'm Rachel Reba and we are live from the Main Street. And st. Peter. My colleague Mark style is outside with one of the building owners good Mark good morning, Rachel. That's right. We're here with the Philip Friedland who is part of the ownership group of the Nicollet Hotel. The hotel is about a hundred twenty five years old standing on Minnesota Avenue. It's one of the most beautiful and oldest of the many old buildings which are to be found in St. Peter Philip. If you could tell me what are we looking at here? What sort of damage did this brick structure sustaining the tornado in the tornado? It sustained some substantial damage. The roof of the building was lifted right off of it. There was only about a 30 foot square piece of the previous roof. We now have a new roof on the building there at the time and attached to that roof structure was ornate structure around the building parapet walls that stood some six feet high and cornice decorative cornice work and brackets around it so we can look up at the top and actually See a layer of their match very close to the Old Brick, but you can see the different coloration there where the old brick was lifted off by the tornado. Yes, you can and so what we have done right now, we're undertaking the restoration work within the building but last winter fortunately in the fall. We had a fairly nice fall and we were able to get the roof totally reconstructed the cornice work re-established and all of the brickwork re-established on building and we heard Rachel and argues in his report also talking about how close this building came to be taken down. I'd like to get it straight from you. How close was the was the call there to saving this building? We actually purchased it on the day that the wrecking ball was scheduled to tear it down. It was judged to be an unsafe building and the insurance company had judged it a total loss, but we saw it differently and saw the potential. What did you see that? Made you want to save this building? Well, fortunately I had a very good architect working with me friend of mine for some time and and he looked through the building and saw that the structural damage was definitely repairable in that the basic structure since he had dealt so much with historic buildings was so strong that it was not a building that would be imminent of falling down. And so we had a very good foundation to work from mean is there more to it more of a sense of history that that you feel needs to be preserved or is it mainly just that had that business utility angle. I look at things in a variety of ways. We first looked at it from the business side and saw what the cost of renovation would be and we also like to thank all of the agencies in the city that have come through to support us because that day that we decided to purchase the building. We had had a couple of weeks to do some previous work with the city and the agencies and they had come forward with some some guaranteed funding and if we hadn't had that we wouldn't have been able to succeed here either. Did you see any need for a change? I mean the pressure-packed situation that occurs after a major disaster like a tornado in that decisions have to be made and deadlines are coming up the insurance company wants this the city wants this and the building stands there ready to be torn down. Does there need to be more of a low more of a issue taking or a decision-making time allowed for these things? It would have been nice to have had a little bit more time to reflect on what we were doing but Tom and I are both very altruistic people in saw the what we wanted to have accomplished here and we were going to make it a can do approach and all the agencies in the city were of that same mind and although we had a lot of pressures with time. We had a lot of confidence to and that's Philip Friedland who's part of the ownership group of the Nicollet Hotel Rachel. Thank you Mark. We have Kelly from Osseo on the phone. Good morning Kelly. Good morning Rachel and good morning to all of your guests this morning. What a difference a year does make my question that I have is now that we look back. It's your later what things you know, would you continue to do the same if we were to have another large-scale destruction of one of our beautiful historic towns or areas in Minnesota, what would you do differently? What other ways would you improve as far as you know getting contractors to come out or distribution of monies or any other factors that you've seen since last year Charlie? Let's have you answer that because I know you told me when the call came in from st. Peter. You didn't really have a disaster plan. You kind of made the disaster plan as you went along. That's absolutely right and what you learn from how things went a year ago. Well, we learned that one of the things you don't want to do in a disaster is to make decisions to rapidly and the pressure is on when something happens is there is a need for people to get back to their lives and that need oftentimes is pressured by insurance agencies and others that are involved in trying to clean up things too fast. So that fight or flight syndrome gets going and We are natural tendency is flight our tendency at the hearing. This was the to we needed to provide some type of a counsel at this critical moment to help people to realize that those decisions did not have to be made without some type of a professional guidance. So to one of the programs we did is we organized the volunteer program with the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and there were over 30 architects who it came to st. Peter on April 7th and met with over a hundred Property Owners to be amazed at the turnout on both sides that they are carrying mean I was amazed and pleased I was pleased that to my colleagues felt that this was something that really was that worthwhile of devoting their time and effort and many of them not only spent a few days in st. Peter is volunteers but to Paired up with property owners over the last year to provide guidance in the rehabilitating and fixing up their homes Joel. Did you and Kim take advantage of that? Did you meet were you one of the hundred that math? We did meet with an architect what help just the fact that they came here and they were available for you. It did in a way our story is that we never saw him again, unfortunately and but I understand he went off to do some other work in some other houses. We were fortunate enough to find some old pictures so and just kind of put pieces back together as to what our house was. So and one thing at one story I would tell is that we had an 80 year old man come through town and he had lived in this house that we live in now when he was 5 or 6 years old and so he walks her us the whole house from top to bottom and explain where things were how they used to be and how the ports used to be sit on the front. And what was where the garage was off the back and it was just fantastic and some more information than you had prior to the Nate oh, yeah, definitely. But you know another thing that we felt was very very important in this it was to make sure that the elements unique architectural elements of the these buildings would not be destroyed or lost because simply they could not be economically reproduced and this is one of the reasons why we asked to Governor Carlson and to appropriate the 1 million which later became 1.3 million it to provide a special stop gap or a gap financing program to allow a property owners to replace things such as porches and turrets and spindles and whatever that you're normally coverage would not we're talking about the ongoing work to rebuild historic st. Peter one year after the tornado. My guests are homeowners Joel and Kim Brinker Charlie Nelson with the Minnesota historical society and chair of the Heritage preservation Commission in St. Peter Judy Bell. I'm Rachel riebe and you're listening to a special. Main Street radio broadcast from st. Peter mpr's Main Street radio coverage of rural issues is supported by the blandin foundation committed to strengthening communities through grant-making leadership training and convening will be back with more of Main Street after look at news and weather. I'm Lorna Benson at the turn of the century a 15 year old boy in Northfield was building his own automobile. While most other minnesotans predicted. The new toy was just a passing fad dad being a lover of horses cautioned us continually to leave anything that use gasoline alone. Are we would be blown up listen to All Things Considered on Monday for the next in our Minnesota Century series KN o WF M 91.1 in the Twin Cities. Good morning with news from Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Greta Cunningham. The White House is repeating. It has no plans to send ground troops into Kosovo saying NATO is following the proper course spokesman Joe Lockhart also says he can't confirm reports that prominent Kosovo albanians have been executed in recent days, but he says there are strong indications the Serb offensive against Kosovo has intensified European Union officials. Say the refugee situation in Kosovo continues to look Grim officials estimate as many as 100,000 ethnic albanians have fled to Albania. Many are fleeing to other neighboring countries officials say shelter and sanitation are top priorities for the countries, which are largely being overwhelmed a guilty plea is expected later today from the Marine who was navigating the plan that sliced a cable car line military officials. Say captain Joseph Schweitzer will admit to obstruction of justice and conspiracy Masters accident sent 20 people to their deaths an explosion at Michigan fireworks plant has killed at least one person and critically injured another back in December seven workers died in the blast of the same facility the cause of which has not been found in Regional news to Key State lawmakers want to set aside about 25 million dollars annually for Transit projects beginning in the year 2002 Transportation commissioner Ellen tinkling Berg and Metropolitan Council chairman Ted Mondale offered the proposal today. They would dedicate 5% of the motor vehicle excise tax. Annually, the money from sales taxes on cars usually goes to road maintenance Statewide they plan to submit their proposal to the legislature this week. Governor Ventura has been a supporter of Transit development the forecast for Minnesota today partly to mostly sunny skies Statewide. There is a possibility of a brief afternoon shower in the Northeast today highs around 50 in the north to 60 in the southwest at this hour Rochester reports sunshine and 51. It's sunny and Duluth and 43 Fargo report sunshine and 42 and in the Twin Cities Sunshine a temperature of 50 to that's a news update. I'm Greta Cunningham one year ago today one of the largest tornadoes to ever touch down in Minnesota swept through st. Peter next hour. We're going to look at Minnesota's weather patterns. Have they gotten more extreme? We've invited three of Minnesota's top meteorologist to join us in St. Peter to answer your questions, but now we're continuing our conversation about the restoration efforts underway in historic. St. Peter. I'm Rachel rebn were broadcasting from the lobby of the Nicollet hotel in 1873 gem that came very close to being another tornado casualty. Our phone lines are open for your calls. One eight hundred five hundred 75252. We have Janice on the phone in Minneapolis. Good morning Janice morning. I would like to just put a question to your panel. I'd also like to commend the breakers for taking on the large task of rejuvenating their home to its original condition. My question regards a lot of the Architectural Salvage thing that's going on. I had heard early on that. There were a lot of people kind of coming into the area and Scavenging around four pieces, which could be taken and resold and my assumption is that most likely they were taken up to Minneapolis and resold. It's such a common thing right now and I think it's wonderful that people are interested in restoration of the homes and the appreciation of the historical elements, but I'm wondering if you could ask or answer rather how widespread was that problem and was there anything that the historical society was able to do or any other organization in the area to sort of retain these sort of architectural elements for the people that then the same Peter area? I noticed that we have dealt with one of the architectural M companies in Minneapolis. And we asked them about this this very thing if they were going to be coming down to st. Peter and they said we're not scavengers. We've been contacted from people from some people in St. Peter that said our house is coming down. Would you come down and help us out here or you know take what you need or you know, and they did that but they were very much not the the carpetbagger type aspect. There was the incident that happened at the big Schumacher Mark hallstrom house over here where he had deliberately picked up pieces of the brackets and railings and all of these things that had put them up on his front porch and they did disappear now whether that was zealous volunteers, we don't know but he did make a real effort to save those pieces and they did disappear in our initial contact with the homeowners here. One of the First Things We Said is to gather up as much as you possibly Can you put it in a secure place? Because if they couldn't reuse it, they could certainly use it also pattern on her. Yes. Exactly. And that's one of the aspects of the disaster planning program that the Minnesota Historical Society is currently developing and eventually there will be the opportunity for hopefully not another disaster of this the scale and this impact but there will be the opportunity to present materials like this and sort of a guidance format that people will be able to look at and use it to prepare for the next stages in their restoration. So this was quite a learning process. Absolutely. Well, I even had a call during the was about a month ago and the tornadoes or something that hit down south. I don't remember where it was. But I had a call from someone in town there and the same question. What did you do about your historic places and how can we can we even start so if this historical society is going to Up a program that would be something to be very worthwhile. One of the things we are really trying to do is we're trying to get the word out as to the value of historic properties and the design treatments in those historic properties because it's a unique situation. It is not your typical way that you settle an insurance claim insurance claims often times. They say oh, well, we were replaced this but they don't get to the detail of replacing it in kind and that's where we have a lot of trouble with in historic property property. They would have given the Brinker's another three-story pink house but not the own same kind of know that's where three-story pink and that's one thing I really want to pass on to people is that if you have an older house to really get down and dirty with your insurance agent and make sure that you are well covered for The Unique aspects that you have that you have of your house things that are hard to put a value on really our windows. We have rounded windows in our house, you know, it's hard to put a value on until you. To replace them and it took a long time. It took a lot of effort searching finding we found some place but a lot of those things are you you you can't get them covered and I think you should because you know, even though we are Governor Carlson's the time was very supportive of everything and quick to the draw to make sure everything that there is funds available. Not every Governor's like that Joel hit on a very important point is that these things are covered. If you do take your time and you do your homework, if you make your decisions too hastily often times you lose on the opportunity to do things. Right? Our phone number is 1-800-543-8242. This hour we have Kevin from st. Louis Park on the phone. Good morning Kevin. Hi. I've got a special hello to Joel and Kim there. I was neighbors. I'm originally from st. Peter born and raised there lived in st. Louis Park here for about four and a half years now, but listening to Joel and Kim they're want to say special height of I know the neighborhood. I know their house. I know the efforts they put into the house prior to the tornado and I just want to let them know and Nancy Georgette and all my friends and family down there still that we think of all of you every day and hang in there Kevin your old house is looking well very well now well look a little different than it did when we were there Joel but it's still there it and that gives gives us strength when we do come to town. So let me ask you this question. Is it difficult having the ties that you have in st. Peter and yet kind of viewing it and living through this disaster from afar. It's real difficult and I'll tell you I wake up every morning every morning about two o'clock in the morning and that tornado hits me. I wasn't there that day. I was there that night about 9:00 o'clock in the evening, but I wake up every morning thinking about it and it's real difficult and you come to town and you see your old school and your old church and that's stuff that that's no longer there, you know not to mention the trees and That sort of thing. It's it hurts really hurts. Thank you for your call this morning. Our number one eight hundred five three 75252. If you have a question or a comment call us at 1-800-555-9408. He mentioned the trees and I know in this conversation about st. Peter. We have heard that over and over again about the trees that were lost in the trees that were just snapped in the storm and how it's changed the entire character of the town. We don't usually think of trees when we're talking about historic preservation and yet Judy they were a huge part of this community. Oh are they absolutely were I mean a tree is as much a part of the history if it dates back a hundred hundred twenty-five years it was there when my great-great-grandmother was outside picking sunflowers. So they're very important aspect as far as the Beauty and the character of the whole community and at that was the one thing that Travelers coming through town commented on about now, they can see every building and aesthetic is Davis because the um, Ella of trees is no longer there, but it will come back. We've had donations of trees some mature 25 to 30 year old trees are going to be planted very soon and it'll just take time. Unfortunately. Our children grandchildren will never see the Saint Peter that we knew Joel you're on the city council. Do you feel that obligation to rebuild and restore the community not just for the people who live here, but the people who have those ties the people who went to school here with people like Kevin who lived here at one time. Is there that feeling of we've got to rebuild it this this is their history as well very much. So it's it's overwhelming to just think of all the work that needs to be done. It was very sad to be the one to have to vote to to tear down the community center that we had that was a school that my grandfather and my father and I went to and my son jack went to and then to have to be the one to vote to tear down. I had my company had also been one of the contractors that rebuilt it. Years ago when we turned it from a school and took Community Center. So it's a very close emotional ties and I can I can see that if you're not living in town anymore that you have lived here that you still have these emotional ties to these to these buildings. These are your memories. These are the banisters that you get slowed down when you're a kid, you know, that's very important. Has it gotten easier in the last two Judy I know in talking to you and I see Drinkers and talk to you as well. It's still so emotional. It's 12 months. And so for people who say great St. Peters back wonderful. Everything is is just like new. Yeah Joe's got his hanky. No, it's true. Like I said, I didn't have any damage and I don't know what kind of a mess I would be if I had had any but just looking around and seeing like Joel said the school the old school that a lot of history and Beauty to it seeing all the things. Yeah, I get very just just talking right now my chest tightens up, but I can't help it. It just happens all the time and yet I haven't really dealt with it. Just like a lot of people people have been too busy to didn't listen probably. Well, that's true. And you put all your efforts into being optimistic and trying to rebuild and get things going. I wanted to mention that the there was a program developed by the commission some years ago the Heritage preservation, which I've reactivated which is the founders and Heritage homes program. And what we're going to do is Contact all the homeowners in town or as many as we can initially certify them for the work. They're doing on preserving these homes and then hopefully get as many people as possible to move to the next step of applying to be on the national register of historic places and get even more, you know, more registered buildings and homes in the city. One of the categories of people that have been in very short supply in the last year our construction people have as people have struggled to find somebody to come in and work on their house or their building Mark style your with the contractor right now. That's right Rachel. We're outside the hotel with the foreman of the construction crew working at the Nicollet Hotel. Franklin is with us. He's from Mankato Frank when you tackle an old project like this, what is the toughest challenge you face? I would say. Walls are not Plumb. They're not straight Joyce are not uniformly spaced and so you can't make any assumptions at all. You you have to double-check everything you have to assume it's crooked and work from there that part of it the crookedness is that because the building settled or some of that just the way the thing was put up the first time that's the way things are put up originally they used to put a lot of plaster on the walls. So whether the studs are perfectly straight and all that didn't matter laughs didn't matter. It was a it was a lot of it was a type of structure that the way it was done before the craftsmanship that was used previously and now it's not economical to do it that way so You have to deal with those issues. You told me that for someone to bid on a project or a bidding on an old buildings always a difficult if not, sometimes impossible job because because you don't know what you're getting into. Yeah to be fair with a customer you just about half the take a time and material and work on a good relationship with them because you're going to bit high if you have to bid it because you have to cover yourself and there are too many variables that you can't see you can't find until you get into it. Tell me where you're at. Now on this reconstruction project this repair project and what the next couple of months old. All the roof is all on and we're watertight. Interior the structural is all taken care of and the framework is up where sheetrocking second floor is being taped now and we'll be going into third floor next week. So we go for the townhouses are nearly ready for paint and we're doing some of the exterior work now because the weather is nice and we're finished for porches and it's cosmetic things now that are being addressed and trying to make it look more like the old time building for you. Is this the type of project you like doing those are something that makes you lay awake at night worrying about what you're going to find the next day. Well, I enjoy doing it. It's something a little different than the normal. Makes you think a little bit but no, you don't want to lose sleep over it because it won't help. Thank you. That's a Franklin who's the foreman at this construction site at the Nicollet Hotel Rachel. Thank you Mark. Our phone number one eight hundred five three 75252. If you would like to call us this morning, Julian Kim, you're still living in the Attic. Yeah, it's comfortable. What are the plans? So the tell me where the house is at now for a while. You couldn't even live in the Attic So I suppose even moving back onto the site was up for you. Right? Right. We because that part of the house took such a hard hit that was the part that had a lot of the work done initially to get it back to be son keep the water out and all that. So it we realized about Midsummer that if we were going to get back into the house by the winter. We were living about 12 miles out that that was going to be the only place that we're going to be able to do that. And so we kind of changed gears a little bit and put our efforts into that and Got that done and moved back in just before Thanksgiving and it's very nice. Just being back in the house that you know, just to be back in was wonderful and we work downstairs at night and then we come up to the attic and are able to just kind of leave everything down there and and relax. They had a big us seems to follow us. They had a beautiful big fir tree outside to that went as well as some other large trees on the property to when do you think you'll be back into the rest of the house? When will you move out of the attic? We are hoping that within a month here that we will have most of the first floor ready to move back in. We're working on plaster repair and sheetrock in the foyer. And then just to get the rest of the trim back up. We'll be able to move our living room and our dining room down and we'll still sleep up in the attic probably we hope to be into the second floor by winter the second floor of the time the kids graduate from Second floor, that's when it was supposed to be done. But we we still have the whole second floor. It's wired and everything everything we own is stored on the second floor. So we just can't get in there and work. So we're hoping to like to say about the end of the month to move start moving things down and so we can start working in that area. It's been a labor of love because there's some I'm a drywall drywall and plaster repair man. So I've been able to do a lot of the work myself, but it's tough to do a 40 hours at work and then come home and worked on your house for till late at night over the past 12 months. How many times have you said to each other? Maybe this really wasn't such a hot idea. I have it. I don't think we verbalize didn't but I think you know, we you gotta think those thoughts every now and then I come from a from a I've developed having worked on new houses and old houses. I've got a real strong belief that people don't really own their houses because they'll outlive us that we're just nearly the caretakers and we need to do what we can to maintain them so that because they'll be there after we're gone again and and so in doing this house here, it's simple to just maybe sheetrock and and you know take things out but to put the old rounded ceilings back in is an extra, you know things that they need to be there those little things that will carry on forever on that house what Joel just said just makes me cry because like I said, even when we're gone now, these homes will still be there and because of the great work that people like Joel and Kim and everyone else in town have been doing this is true these these beautiful structures will be there Beyond us that Thank you. I just had the greatest respect and admiration for everybody who's doing all their work, you know the support that you get throughout the year when we were feeling like it was just overwhelming. Somebody would come along and even though everything is about a mess they walk in and say oh it's looking better. Great-looking. Yeah, you're getting there you're getting there and you needed to hear that and there were always people that were able to come by and just tell her years. Yeah Charlie Nelson, there were some great triumphs. We're sitting in the lobby of one of them the Nicollet Hotel you talked about one of the churches in town that you were so pleased about the repair work that went on there. Well, I'm quite pleased with the work that it went on to it to Church of the Holy Communion the Episcopal Church, which is on the national register. This was a structure that it was not a severely damaged as a Lutheran Church in the Catholic church, but the tornado had lifted the roof completely often slammed it back down on a on its walls breaking a couple of the trusses and these Dresses are over a hundred years old made of materials that cannot be replaced today. So I had the opportunity to meet her with a very very sympathetic contractor. It was a structural engineer and he looked at to this roof and he said, you know, I think we can take these trusses and we can take some metal gussets or metal plates and bolt them together and hold these trusses together and to save them and to me that it was probably one of the best decisions that ever could have been made. It was a decision which resulted in preserving the historic quality of the building the new roof would have never compared with the saving the historic materials. And today people can walk in that building and they can look up and they can see the historic roof, but they can also see that metal plate and that tells the story of what happened in March 29th. Yeah. That's a we've left some things like that. Because it's important that this is what has happened to the house. You know, now it's part of the history. It's part of the history of the house, you know, there's some places on the floor. I said don't you don't need to worry about taking those pieces out those were damaged by the tornado and just leave them be and in the next 50 years where I was living there that'll be part of them. This reminds me. There's been so much talk about all the roofs that have been blowing off and one of the key things I think Charlie you'll agree was to have preparations to put a tarp over the building because we had rains right away after the tornado as if the tornado wasn't enough the snow and the rain exact immediately is tar pit. Then think about what you're going to do is that you had a high winds a few weeks later again. Yeah, well tarp it securely so you were beginning to feel like job here in St. Peter was just one thing after another Judy my question for you is Because of the tornado and these unbelievable efforts on the part of people in this community to save and to restore and to rebuild do you think that there is a greater interest now in this town about the historic nature of st. Peter has it sort of peaked people's interest people who perhaps took it for granted before I do think so, there's always been controversy over the efforts of any sort of historic preservation is in this city as well as anywhere else and it's easy enough to look at the word progress and think that means tearing down a building to make room for something else which is usually a square stucco structure of no interest whatever and I think because because of this and because again the commitment of the people in town to actually take the effort and because of Charlie and his group and the finance and the governor, I mean the whole the whole effort that's why we have the sign out here. Thank you to everybody. Absolutely everybody for the work that they've done in helping us from outside the city as well. And yes people have come to now I think To the value of the buildings that we have and what it means in terms of Tourism, which I'm very interested in movie locations, which I'm involved in and just the growth of the area and it's important for people to understand that an old building isn't just something to be thrown aside casually it has a meaning it represents where we've been and it can be a blueprint for where we're going Charlie in Minnesota. Have we been a little slow to jump on the historic bandwagon would you say especially in rural Minnesota? I don't think we've been slow to jump on the historic bandwagon and I think that if we feel that historic preservation is just a way of life and it may be we don't call it preservation but to our communities continue to go on year after year with respect to their head their history and to me the Grassroots part of historic preservation is just as important if not more so than giving it a label. Do you think though this will be a touchstone for people? In other communities to say boy. Our house is a hundred years older houses a hundred twenty years old. Maybe we better think about maybe we'd better take a look at our insurance man. We've ever think about getting it see if it would be eligible to be listed on the historic register those good things that could come out of this. They are very good things to come out of it to the general awareness that you live in a house which has some history. It has importance like Joel and Judy said that we are stewards of our history. I think that is very very important and it's unfortunate that it's a disaster which oftentimes brings these things to the fore and makes us really realize how tenuous our existence is and your group is coming up with a seminar to talk to other people about if this ever happens, this is what you can do tells quickly. We will be doing a preservation Conference of Statewide conference on May 14th and 15th right here in St. Peter will be focusing on disaster preparedness and on It weighs the to we can take steps to preserve our history. It's co-sponsored by the state historic preservation office in the preservation Alliance of Minnesota. If there is anyone out there to would like to attend this conference and we certainly encourage you because it will be an eye-opening experience. Please call our office at area code six five one 2965434 Joel today a year after the tornado. Are you halfway back the community 75% of the way back people would love to hear you say we're back. Yeah, everything's finished, but we can hear the saws even sitting here on Main Street. We can hear the workers and you drive around town and there is construction going on every place. Where are you with the rebuilding process looking over? I think we're about halfway back far Citywide Biddle buildings. It's going to be a couple of years yet before we're done rebuilding a lot of those the church and getting those things done. We're a ways away. It's Interesting to drive through town and see the houses that look like they're done yet at nighttime when they're all buttoned up. You see that little pig tail lights and their bare studs on the inside of the walls and it's still weird. Overall. We're about halfway. It's today a rough day for you. It is does it help that it's blue skies and sunshine helps a lot. Oops. There's no snow. Do you said last night? It was looking a little dark here. I think everybody was a little uncomfortable yesterday because it was very very very windy and dark and overcast and although there was a church service of Christ Chapel, which was very very well attended and I think it's been helpful to the whole city that there was the observance plan this weekend where people could get together and talk and share and feel support for each other. But yeah the winds and the gray skies were not not a good thing yesterday. Church bells will be ringing in comfrey at 4:30 today and here in St. Peter at 5:25 to Mark the time the tornadoes touched down a year ago for the people of these southern Minnesota communities. It's a time to remember at a time to look back. We're halfway through this Main Street broadcast from st. Peter Charlie Nelson with the Minnesota Historical Society Judy Bell chair of st. Peters Heritage preservation commission. And st. Peter homeowners Joel and Kim Brinker. Thank you for being with us. Thank you. Next hour. We'll find out what was so unique about the tornadoes that tore across southern Minnesota last year a trio of weather experts are joining us in st. Peter to answer your whether questions. It's all head when we continue our Main Street special from st. Peter after the news.


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