March 6, 2012

Why Are You Doing This?

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Life, Main Street, Photos, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 2:12 pm by stonebankblog

That’s the question the Stone Bank family has been asked again … and again.

Why would seemingly sane people take on a gargantuan task — costly — time-consuming — backbreaking — mind-bending? Why? Indeed.

Here’s your Stone Bank Blogger’s reason: When I was a teenager, my family lived a block from the old Bottineau County Courthouse — a marvelous 1900 structure. Three stories, a tower, wonderful windows. Inside were oak floors, a great staircase and satiny oak woodwork. It was a striking and memorable building.

Then in the 1970s the push was made to replace the building with something new. Something modern. I don’t know all the politics, because I was a mere wisp of a girl then. But in the end, the old building was demolished and a new, low,modern structure replaced it.

Worse yet, they started building the new courthouse behind the old one and then tore down the 1900 building. The result? The new courthouse is oddly situated on its lot. Too much front yard. An uninteresting, charmless, and bland building. Sure, many things inside the new courthouse are probably better than in the old building — but for sheer visual impact and a sense of place the new courthouse is about 100 steps back from its predecessor.

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The “loss” of the old courthouse has bothered me for years. We have lost other interesting structures in Bottineau, but this one was a biggie for me.

So wonder no more — this is the “why” of my work on the Stone Bank Project. (I have heard many of my school chums voice the same regret about the old courthouse.)

We were too young and too inexperienced to do much about it.

But that was then. This is now.

Our goal now is to give the Stone Bank a happier ending.

The Stone Bank — another charming, historic structure, really began to deteriorate over the past few years. And I asked everyone “what is happening here?” That question was mostly met with shrugs and the obligatory, “Gee, someone should do something.”

Yes. SOMEONE SHOULD. And sometimes that SOMEONE is ME or YOU.

How often do we have to mourn the loss of a town’s identity and its landmarks before we step up and say “I can help with that.”

So, in 2011, a handful of friends formed a nonprofit and began to work with the building’s owner to find a solution. In the end, we bought the building and worked like crazy to keep the city from condemning it and tearing it down. To its credit the city did relent and give our project a $20,000 loan to start the renovation project.

But we have a long way to go. The fight goes on. But will be worth the effort?

YES!

In the end, we will have a “fine, stone building” even better than the original that will stand another 100 or 200 years. It will stand shining on Main Street for the world to see that we care about our town’s history and its landmarks.

Stone Bank in Bottineau, ND

The Stone Bank Project will put this charmer back to use.

And we will know that we did what we could. Because we could. It was our turn. We’re grownups now.

Here’s a quote from the “When I Have Time” blog about this very topic.

… no one will be there to give you permission to act. To try. To succeed. And to fail. No one will take you by the hand and say, “Now it’s time. You’re ready.” No one will be so sure to say, “Don’t worry, you won’t fail.” No one will lay their hand on yours as you click that submit button, as you fill out that form, as you sign up for that chance, as you raise your hand.

Here’s a link to the blog, if you want to read the whole post: http://whenihavetime.com/2012/02/16/stop-sabotaging-your-own-success-a-manifesto/

Never forget that we are the world that we create. So get out there and make a difference. And if you want to share your talents with the Stone Bank Project — join us! Our email is touchstones.inc@gmail.com.

That’s my “why” — what is yours? Leave a comment!

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5 Comments »

  1. Mark J said,

    Part of the reason these projects are so important is because of the low quality and effort being put into new construction. Especially in the smaller towns, buildings like these are often replaced with steel buildings or vinyl-sided residential style buildings. This project can and will keep a landmark for future generations. The quality comparison just cannot be made with today’s new buildings. They don’t build ’em like they used to!

    • Exactly. EXACTLY. And then we have to live with the regret and the boring buildings. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Jean said,

    You must build a bank building worthy of the James Gang.

    Okay, okay, i’m only sort of joking about the last part, but really it says something about the old structures. Older buildings said something about what they were and why they were important. They advanced civilization. You felt you were doing something important when you went to the bank. Now you just feel like you could just as easily be going to the restroom.

    • You are so right, Jean. Buildings like the Stone Bank say something about pride of place and permanence. That’s important to all communities. And that is why we are so excited to move forward with the restoration of this gem. Thanks for your comment!

  3. SherriH said,

    Right on! Bottineau’s efforts should be a model for small towns everywhere. Great work, Stone!


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