June 28, 2012

Stone Bank Wins Preservation ND Grant

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, Photos, Renovation, Updates tagged , , at 12:30 pm by stonebankblog

Preservation ND logo

Great news!

The Stone Bank has received a $5,000 grant from Preservation North Dakota in its Grassroots Grant Program. The grant is designated to help with the continued restoration of the Stone Bank in Bottineau, ND.

Here’s a description of Preservation ND from the group’s website:

Incorporated in 1991, Preservation North Dakota operated as an all-volunteer organization for several years, hosting conferences, publishing newsletters, and laying the groundwork for a larger preservation movement. That movement was finally engaged when, by partnering with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and North Dakota’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), PND launched the Prairie Churches of North Dakota project.

The Stone Bank family is deeply grateful and excited to get this economic boost for the Stone Bank restoration. Add this to the $20,000 grant from the Historical Society and we are nearly halfway to our fundraising goal of $65,000 for 2012.

Stone Bank Bottineau, ND

This picture shows the back of the Stone Bank, which was dismantled in late 2011 and early 2012. Our goal is to put it back together  again in 2012.

We are gearing up to continue work on the bank building in the next few weeks.

Here’s the plan:

* Complete the dismantling work — on the stone wall in the left of the photo and the crumbling foundation on the dismantled section.

* Excavate the crawl space and dig new footings.

* Build new foundation and walls of concrete block.

* Add floor and roof and extend new roofing material over the rebuilt section of the building.

Bingo. We can get this done for just over $60K. Then we will have a building that is structurally sound and weather-tight.

In 2013, our plan is to put the stone facade back on the building and to begin restoring the interior.

How can you help? The Preservation ND grant requires a 1:1 local match. That means, we must raise $5K in local monies to match this grant.  There is a PayPal link on this page, or you can send a check to the Stone Bank at 524 Main Street, Bottineau, ND 58318.

Our loyal StoneBankBlog reader, Mark Johnson, of Fargo, suggested we look into a Preservation ND grant — and he was so right. give Mark a high-five when you see him.

More information about Preservation North Dakota and its projects are on the group’s website.

As always, thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog!

June 23, 2012

Our History Hero

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Life, Photos, Updates, Volunteers tagged , at 12:45 pm by stonebankblog

Scott Wagar, editor of the Bottineau Courant, is also a history buff, who had cracked the case on finding key bits of history on the Stone Bank.

Scott Wagar is a history hero for the Stone Bank family — because he led us to the irritatingly elusive details of the bank’s history. His story in the Bottineau Courant was posted here a few days ago.

But we wanted to know how he did it. We have browsed the archives and been frustrated by the scant info available on the genesis of the bank. So your StoneBank Blogger met Scott at the archive to get the story on his fabulous discovery.

As it turns out, patience and diligence helped, but — like many discoveries — unlocking the first clue was a happy accident.

“I just happended to be doing some work on a story about the 1940s,” Wagar said. “I went through all the Centennial books — the 25th, 50th, 75th and 100th — and in the 50th, I found a clue.”

It was a one-sentence mention about the bank building. That “clue” sent him to the bound newspaper archive — with a specific date. And that’s where he found a one-sentence report on the construction of Bottineau County Bank. From there, he just followed the breadcrumbs of tidbits about the bank sprinkled through the 1900 newspapers.

The trickiest part was finding the bound newspapers from 1897-1902 that had been shelved away from the rest of the newspaper archive.

“It was way over there,” he said pointing to a corner of the vault far from where the newspaper archive is stored.

“I was excited, because it had been so long, and I knew there had to be something — we just had to find it,” Wagar said of the discovery. “It was exciting.”

The day in mid-May he found the first clue, he said he stayed in the vault, taking notes and digital photos and reading the eye-straining type. (He says he has lost track of the time he spent poring over the old newspapers, before he published his story on June 5.)

What he discovered is that the original part of the bank was built in about six months in 1900. This is remarkable, because the stone is all hand-cut and there is a full basement of hand-hewn stones under the front 60 feet of the building. That’s a lot of stone-cutting, hefting and hauling in six short months. The bank opened for business on Dec. 23, 1900.

Here is a slideshow of some of what Wagar found.

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We have a plan to repair the foundation and to get the back of the building standing again. But we need your help. We need “giving” to match the $25,000 in grant funds we’ve already secured — and soon. There is a PayPal link on this page. Or send a contribution to Touchstones, Inc.  to the Stone Bank, 524 Main St., Bottineau, ND 58318.

Success on the Stone Bank project is possible only with the help of fabulous volunteers like Scott Wagar and generous donors like you. We can do this together. Thanks for reading, liking and following the StoneBankBlog!

June 20, 2012

A Mystical Solstice

Posted in Bottineau, Life, Photos tagged , , at 11:49 pm by stonebankblog

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It rained off and on all day — then the western sky started to clear about 8 p.m., and that was an invitation to run over to Mystical Horizons for a peek at the summer solstice sunset.

It was chilly. A big wedge cloud sat on the horizon right in front of the sun. But then, the sun-watchers’ patience was rewarded with a muted but lovely glimpse of the sunset aligned with the notch in the wall.

Charming. Lovely. Mystical.

Happy summer from your friends at the StoneBankBlog.

Stone Quote # 2

Posted in Life, Photos tagged , , , at 7:38 pm by stonebankblog

Another quote from the Peace Chapel at the International Peace Garden. The garden straddles the U.S.-Canada border in central North Dakota.

Limestone! The quotes in the Peace Chapel are carved in gorgeous, veined limestone.

Let’ hear it for love, for limestone, for great quotes and, all things stone — especially the Stone Bank.

Click here to learn more about the Peace Garden on its official website. If you have never visited, it’s worth the effort — and it’s very near the lovely Stone Bank.

In case you missed it, here’s Stone Quote #1.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog!

June 18, 2012

Stone Bank’s Mystery History Revealed!

Posted in Bottineau, History, Photos, Updates, Volunteers tagged , , , at 2:22 pm by stonebankblog

A big fat question mark! That is mostly what we knew about the Stone Bank — originally the Bottineau County Bank. Land records didn’t reveal much and details of exactly when the Stone Bank was built have been, well, sketchy.

But now we know. And this is HUGE.

Scott Wagar, the intrepid editor/reporter for the Bottineau Courant has been digging in the local archives for a year and at long last uncovered what we didn’t know before — who built the bank, how long it took, and when it opened. Whoo-hooooooooooooo!

Scott is a history buff and he did this on his own time — even though he has more than a full-time job. We can’t thank Scott enough, because he really did the Stone Bank family a huge and everlasting favor. Bravo, Scott.

The story, which ran in the June 5, Bottineau Courant is posted below (with Scott’s permission).

Bottineau Courant masthead

Jump1 of Stone Bank article from the Bottineau Courant, June 5, 2012

Jump 2, Stone Bank article, Bottineau Courant, June 5, 2012

What a marvelous and interesting story. Leave a “like” for Scott, because he deserves a boatload of them.

Let’s face it — Scott is simply STONE-TASTIC!

Please, leave a “like” for Scott, because he deserves a boatload of them, and thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog!

June 15, 2012

If This Courthouse Could Speak …

Posted in Endangered buildings, Friends of Stone Bank, Photos, Updates tagged , , , , , , at 2:39 pm by stonebankblog

It would tell us that it should stand for another 100 years.

But it can’t speak for itself, so the McLean County Heritage Preservation Foundation wants to set the record straight.

Last week, the nonprofit group created and placed an ad in the local paper to dispel a persistent misconception about the  endangered 1907 courthouse.  A misconception that is further endangering  the old courthouse.

McLean County Historic Preservation ad about the 1907 courthouse which has been slated for demolition by the McLean County Commissioners.

In an email, Betty Kost, who is a member of the McLean heritage group, told the Stone Bank Blog that there is confusion about the difference between bat guano and histoplasmosis spores — and that the local news reports have said the building is contaminated, when the scientific tests show that it is not.

Here’s a quote from Betty’s email:

“After 3 years of testing was done in the newer and older portion [of the courthouse] on air, surface and guano testing, no positive tests were found until one positive histoplasmosis sample was found in an air sample, (not in bat guano), in the newer addition.  A hepa filter was used, and no more positive tests were found.”

Betty notes that histoplasmosis spores can be found anywhere — in chicken coops, barns or other places where that birds roost — and can be carried on birds’ wings, beaks and feet.  Hunters, landscapers, farmers etc. can transport the spores on their clothing or shoes, too. But bats can get it in their systems and spread it in their guano.  This does not mean that the spores found in the courthouse were brought  by bats.  The courthouse serves many hunters, landscapers, and farmers, so it easily could have come from a different source.

The point, the preservation group says, is that the courthouse is NOT contaminated. Period.

Wouldn’t it be a shame to see this lovely, historic building demolished for no good reason. It’s not a threat or a danger, so why not give this group time to create a plan for reusing it?

So, if  you can, why not send the McLean County Historic Preservation group your encouragement, your ideas and even some cash? They have a big fight on their hands to save this building. (Contact info. is in their ad.) And you can contact the county commissioners at the addresses listed in the ad, too.

And give a “like” to this post! It’s always good to know the message is getting out!

As always, thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog!

June 11, 2012

Endangered Courthouse

Posted in Friends of Stone Bank, History, Life, Updates tagged , , , at 12:03 am by stonebankblog

1907 McLean County Courthouse slated for demolition

The historic McLean County Courthouse in Washburn, ND, will be demolished if a citizens’ group can’t turn things around. (Minot Daily News photo)

Shocking. It just never stops being a shock: when elected officials train their eyes on a historic structure and decide to “make things better” by tearing down a community’s past. Ohfercryinoutloud!

That’s the fight going on in North Dakota’s McLean County. The county commissioners are determined to have the 1907 courthouse demolished to make way for a new building — and a group of determined citizens is working frantically to save the building.

Dennis Kost, of Washburn, is one of the leaders of the nonprofit McLean County Heritage Preservation Foundation, the group scrambling to save the building. At issue is whether or not the old courthouse is contaminated with bat guano. Kost says his group has test results that show the1907  building is NOT contaminated– but that some airborne guano was detected in a 1963 addition to the older structure.

“Our goal is to get the truth out,” Kost said on Friday. “It’s so hard to do.”

Kost  said his group became so frustrated with the inaccuracies in various news reports that it spent the money to place an ad in the McLean County Extra to make sure that McLean County residents could get the whole story.

“They (County Board members) say it’s contaminated … and it’s not,” Kost said. “We need to put that to rest.”

Kost said the County Board has inflated the numbers on what it would cost to fix up the old courthouse, and even though they have rallied strong community support to stop the demolition, the effort has apparently fallen on deaf ears.

“They refuse to listen,” Kost said of the his group’s interaction with the board. “They are accelerating the demolition as fast as they can.”

The McLean Heritage Preservation group has offered a plan to convert the old courthouse to office space for the booming oil industry in western and central North Dakota. They estimate that the office space could generate $250,000 a year in rent — but county officials have shrugged off the proposal.

1907 McLean County Courthouse at left, new courthouse at right

The 1907 McLean County Courthouse will make way for a new building rising behind it if preservationists fail to save it. (Bismarck Tribune photo)

Following are links to several stories from the local news media about the situation, but Kost says there are inaccuracies in the reports.

They do, however, give general background information about the endangered courthouse.

Check out stories in the Minot Daily News, the Bismarck Tribune and the McLean County Extra.

If you want to help, the McLean Heritage Preservation Foundation is accepting donations for legal fees, advertising, etc.

Send checks to Gerald Nordquist, 218 5th Ave., Washburn, ND 58577.

And if you would like to reach members of the Board of County Commissioners, contact information is linked here.

So, let’s cheer the efforts of the Heritage Preservation group. We all lose when we see a great, historic structure senselessly and callously thrown away. And this scenario plays out again and again. Maybe this time, we can make it stop.

June 6, 2012

Stone Quote No. 1

Posted in Life, Photos, Stone Work tagged , , , at 10:58 pm by stonebankblog

One of the great quotes in the Peace Chapel at the International Peace Garden.

The Peace Chapel at the International Peace Garden is a rather squat, nondescript, small modern building, but it’s worth taking a few minutes to contemplate the great quotes carved into stone slabs along the walls and to enjoy the serenity. Not sure of the type of stone, but it has many fossils, a marvelous veined texture — and, of course, the quotes.

Did you know that the Peace Garden is located conveniently near the Stone Bank? Just checking. This material may be on the test. (We will post some more “Stone Quotes” from time to time.)

Here’s a link to the Peace Garden’s website. It’s one of those places that gets better every year.

Please click the “like” button if you enjoyed this post! Thanks for checking out the Stone Bank Blog.

June 5, 2012

A Stone Bank Inspiration

Posted in Photos, Renovation tagged , , , , at 6:53 pm by stonebankblog

As a champion of all things stone, the Stone Bank blog has to tip its hat to a successful restoration project in Granville, N.D.

Granville is a small town about 20 miles from Minot in north-central North Dakota. This grand old stone bank building, completed in 1903, has been recently and lovingly restored. Beyond the restoration, an addition has increased the size and flexibility of the space.

Adaptive re-use, anyone?

The Granville building is among dozens of great old bank buildings that dot the ND landscape — including our own Stone Bank. And the Granville project demonstrates how durable and adaptable these great old buildings are. The Granville bank has something else in common with the Stone Bank — it became insolvent in 1923.

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Here’s a link to a story in the Minot Daily News that describes  the Granville Bank restoration and how the building is now being reused.

From the Stone Bank crew — BRAVO!

What do you think of this success story? Leave us a comment, because we love hearing from you.

And remember, our project is chugging along, but we need to raise matching funds for the $20,000 grant we recently received from the Historical Society of North Dakota. It’s easy to send us a donation. Think of Granville’s success and click the PayPal link in the right-hand column. We need your support right now! And as always, thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog!