November 30, 2013

NaBloPoMo Finale (whew)

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, Life, Photos, Pictures, Volunteers tagged , , , , , at 1:41 pm by stonebankblog

The moment you’ve all been waiting for … our last post for National Blog Posting Month 2013.

Stone Bank Project, Bottineau, ND

Admiring a gorgeous sunset near Bottineau, N.D., is a nice way to close NaBloPoMo.

Before we close out the month, we’d like to thank everyone who shared this journey, commented and sent photos. Your input made it a lot more fun to come up with 30 daily posts. Don’t be shy — we are always open to ideas, photos and commentary for months without a theme.

We also need to thank a few more wonderful Stone Bank friends — who are there when we need them. They have championed our project, worked for little or no pay and have been total rock stars!

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Of course, there are countless others who have stepped up, donated and said a kind word. It’s good to pause and remember that this really is a community project — and we are grateful for every kindness and courtesy. We truly wouldn’t have made this happen without you.

But we are not done. So, stay tuned. Dedicate a stone. Buy a T-shirt. Wish us well.

We wanted to end #NaBloPoMo with a bang. So, here it is.

Stone Bank Project, Bottineau, ND

What can you say? Our Stone Bank friends and volunteers are dynamite.

Thanks for your support.

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November 29, 2013

Rockin’ Iowa in a Stone Bank T

Posted in Friends of Stone Bank, Fundraising, Photos, Pictures tagged , , , at 5:04 pm by stonebankblog

Oh, it is so good to see people of good taste wearing our Stone Bank T-shirt. Why, here’s someone now!

Stone Bank restoration in Bottineau, N.D.

Our friend, Jean, ordered a unisex T in periwinkle blue and showed it off near her
home in Iowa. Looking good, Jean!

Don’t stand in line at the mall this holiday season — order your Stone Bank T online today. They make a great holiday surprise, and every purchase of a Stone Bank T goes to help rebuild and repurpose the Stone Bank in Bottineau, N.D. We would love to publish a photo of someone wearing a Stone Bank T in all 50 states. Let’s get going. Order a shirt and then send the picture.

Jean not only follows this blog, but she has a blog  — The Tuxedo Files. She ruminates on all kinds of things, but mostly it’s a writer’s blog, where she shares parts of her novels with us. Be sure to check it out.

It’s Day 29 of #NaBloPoMo and we are kind of happy to see the month drawing to a close. There’s always a lot to talk about — but life is busy, and daily blogging is really a commitment. See you back here tomorrow.

November 28, 2013

Time to give thanks for the Stone Bank’s bedrock

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Life, Volunteers at 12:17 pm by stonebankblog

We interrupt this series of daily missives by Stone Bank blogger Sharon Kessler to bring you a Thanksgiving message — by her husband and guest Stone Bank blogger Mike Dorsher. …

The Stone Bank Project is thankful for — and indebted to — many people. You can see some of them in the slide show below, but they also include many unseen supporters who have made financial donations from near and afar. They even include everyone who has read this blog, given it a “Like,” left a Comment or just contributed good wishes and karma to our quest.

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But there are two people, in particular, without whom this project would now be a pile of rubble. Rather than a piece of history being preserved, the Stone Bank would now be a relic of history were it not for these two people.

One them is Joe Whetter, whom we usually simply refer to as our “stone mason,” but he is much, much more. Joe is the brawn and brains of the Stone Bank restoration that you see today. He has put his blood, sweat and gears into disassembling the back 20 feet of this structure, stone-by-stone, and now rebuilding it, block-by-block — plus an 8-foot addition for handicap accessibility. With a small crew of helpers under his direction, Joe has hand-carried some of the bank’s 400-pound boulders in the bitter cold and snow, he has poured pilings and cut sidewalk in the rain, and he has hand-shoveled mud in the heat of summer — all for sporadic pay of his heavily discounted bills. I don’t know what is more amazing — to see this grandchild-raising ex-Marine who’s pushing 60 engage in hard labor like a ball-and-chain prisoner or that such a man resides within the same town as the Stone Bank, that he and my wife were Bottineau High School classmates — and that they’re still talking to each other.

We owe a great, BIG thanks to Joe today. But even Joe would readily acknowledge that there would be no Stone Bank Project today without my wife, Sharon Kessler. She walked past the Stone Bank every day on her way to and from Bottineau High School, and she never forgot it, even after going off to UND and living with me in Bismarck, Madison, Washington, DC, Wisconsin, England and the Twin Cities. When Karen Larson told her the back of the Stone Bank was crumbling and the City Council was about to condemn and raze it, they formed a nonprofit, Touchstones, Inc., to raise funds and save it. In the 2 1/2 years since then, Sharon has poured hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars into the Stone Bank Project — in addition to her full-time (plus some) job in the Twin Cities at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners. None of Joe’s work on the site would have been possible without her grant writing, fundraising, organizing — and blog posting.

So today, as we all give thanks for our family, friends and fortunes small and large, those of us who are friends of the Stone Bank Project should pause and give thanks to Joe and Sharon, too. That process started a couple months ago when Cenex recognized Sharon with a $50 gift card from its “Tanks of Thanks” program. I will close this guest post by letting you read the Cenex-edited version of what I wrote then (click on the image to see it full size). Tomorrow, Sharon will be back here with the penultimate installment of National Blog Posting Month.

ThanksTanksEssay

November 27, 2013

Rockin’ the Neighborhood

Posted in Bottineau, Photos, Pictures tagged , , at 8:30 pm by stonebankblog

The Stone Bank has some very near relatives that live in the neighborhood — two stone structures of roughly the same vintage are only a steps away.
Blog reader Dave D., of Sioux Falls, S.D., shared three photos with us that he took in 2003.

It looks as if there was some curb and gutter work going on at the time, but Dave’s photos also show how these fine stone buildings have stood the test of time.

stone buildings in Bottineau, ND

Many people in Bottineau still call this the Saunders house, after the family that lived in it for about 50 years. Originally known as the McIntosh house, and built in 1895, it is five years older than the Stone Bank. If you walked past that pine tree at the right, you would soon find yourself standing outside the Stone Bank, about a block away.


Stone structures in Bottineau, ND

This stone storage garage is in the alley behind the old Ace Hardware Store. It’s still there and in use. If you walk up the alley to the left, you will find the Stone Bank.


stone structures in Bottineau, ND

This photo of the Stone Bank was taken in 2003. In those days it had a couple of volunteer trees out back and new sidewalk going in.

These three stone buildings are totally rockin’ the neighborhood. Thanks to Dave, who grew up in Mohall, N.D., for sharing these photos. We hope the next time he passes through Bottineau that he stops to see us at the Stone Bank.

It’s Day 27 of NaBloPoMo — thanks for stopping by.

November 26, 2013

The Bank Will Rise Again

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, Photos, Pictures, Updates tagged , , , , at 10:24 pm by stonebankblog

Sometimes it occurs to me that people might have trouble “giving” to a bank. So let’s be clear. The Stone Bank Project is about a building not a-hem bankers. (Not that all bankers are bad — but, well, you know.)

So here are a couple new photos showing the new foundation of the Stone Bank rising, where none was before.

The floor level of the bank building is about 3.5 feet above grade. That’s why we are adding a handicap entrance at grade in the rebuilt structure. When complete, the building will look almost exactly like it did before we started, but it will be updated to accommodate everyone. It’s rather exciting, and I think those long-ago builders would appreciate our efforts to make this building flexible and useful for generations to come.

If you appreciate our work to restore this wonderful building, feel free to make a donation. We need to pay our contractors, the insurance and snow removal. And more snow removal. And then some more. Last winter, we paid nearly $1,100 in snow removal alone.

Don’t forget, Dec. 3 is Giving Tuesday.

November 25, 2013

A Slow-Motion Time-Lapse Review

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, Endangered buildings, Photos, Pictures, Renovation, Updates tagged , , at 9:04 pm by stonebankblog

OK. At Day 25 of National Blog Posting Month, let’s take stock.

We are here for the Stone Bank. Some of you may be new to our project and this blog. So, let’s review.

In 2011, we bought the Stone Bank, which was on the verge of being condemned, formed a nonprofit (Touchstones, Inc.) and started hashing out a plan to save this historic building made of hand-hewn stones in 1900. It has been a challenge and a joy and we are chugging ahead. In 2012, we dismantled 20 feet of the back of the building, which had settled over too shallow footings. We are now in the process of rebuilding the back of the building. Here’s a slide show of some stage of our progress.

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The weather has turned to winter ahead of schedule in Bottineau, so we are going to button up the project and the site for the winter and finish the rebuild in the spring.

Some people say this is taking too long — but, remember, we are moving tons of stone on a shoestring. (A great trick!) With donations and some more grants, we are going to get the back of this building up and the roof on in early 2014. Please remember the Stone Bank project in your year-end giving — we will put your trust and your donation to great use.

(There are handy links to Razoo and PayPal on this page.)

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog!

November 24, 2013

A Postcard from Bottineau: 1928

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Photos, Pictures tagged , , , , at 2:58 pm by stonebankblog

Isn’t this interesting? A friend of a Stone Bank friend found this postcard in the archives of O’Reilly Auto Parts. He tells me that O’Reilly bought out a company known as Midwest Auto Parts that seems to have North Dakota roots. But my knowledge of the company’s history ends right there.

Bottineau, ND

This postcard with a 1928 postmark was mailed from Bottineau, ND.

It’s just fun to see something mailed from Bottineau in 1928. And it’s interesting to see the cost of the auto parts for a Model T. In 1928, the Stone Bank had been standing on the corner of Sixth and Main for 28 years. Bottineau County Bank had failed five years before this postcard was mailed, and it was in receivership. The bank never reopened, but the building was occupied over the years by a number of businesses — and we plan to see it occupied again in the next couple of years.

In 2013, not a lot of folks are still driving Model T’s but the Stone Bank is getting ready to roll again.

It’s Day 24 of National Blog Posting Month and we have the blog firmly in “drive” and are moving ahead.

We have some photos from 2003 sent in by a blog reader — we will be posting those soon. Do you have a photo to share? We would love to post photos, guest blogs or your comments on the blog. Thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog.

November 23, 2013

Now, I Call That Support!

Posted in Fundraising, Life, Photos, Pictures tagged , , , , at 12:17 pm by stonebankblog

Imagine our surprise when we recently passed through Fargo — thought we’d stop for a bite to eat and found the Hotel Donaldson draped in bras! (And not open for lunch.)

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This is what I call a really uplifting fundraiser. Of course, the symbolism is obvious — it’s a breast cancer fundraiser.

We chatted up someone at Hotel Donaldson and they told us that this fundraiser has brought in $400K over several years. Fantastic.

Of course, Bras on Broadway has a Facebook page. Learn more about the history of this cause over there.

It’s not only a great visual — it clearly has engaged the community in the cause.

If I thought putting my bra in the window of the Stone Bank would bring in donations — I would do it. I swear. But it would have to be a really good contribution.

Let’s just say, I am not unhooking my bra just yet.

Day 23 of National Blog Posting Month is now in the books. Have a great day.

November 22, 2013

Day 22 — A Heavy Sky

Posted in Bottineau, Life, Photos, Pictures tagged , , , at 11:55 pm by stonebankblog

Fall is upon us and we are having some grey days.

Stone Bank Project, Bottineau, ND

Sjule Road near Bottineau, ND. Make the right turns and you will end up outside the Stone Bank on Main Street in Bottineau.

In it’s own way, it’s a gorgeous time of year. (No whining, please.)

So, drink it in. Put another log on the fire. Enjoy it.

It’s Day 22 of National Blog Posting Month — and we are kicking back for the evening. Hope you are, too. And here’s a shout-out to all the folks participating in National Novel Writing Month. I tip my hat to you. Hope your word counts are rising and your plot is good and thick.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog.

November 21, 2013

The Lucky Donation

Posted in Updates tagged , , , , at 9:16 pm by stonebankblog

Could giving to the Stone Bank bring you luck?

It did for your Stone Bank blogger.

Get lucky

Could giving to the Stone Bank improve your luck? Perhaps. Give it a try.

Here’s the story: On Give to the Max Day, my employer offered staffers a chance to win an extra vacation day for contributing to any nonprofit during the day of giving.

I gave.
I dropped my name in the basket.
I won.
I am now the proud recipient of a free day off with pay.
So. There you go.
It’s Day 21 of National Blog Posting Month, a great day to test your luck with a contribution to the Stone Bank project. Really, you can’t lose, because this project is a winner.

Thanks for reading the blog.

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