November 4, 2013

Meet Pierre Bottineau

Posted in Bottineau, History, Life, Photos, Pictures tagged , , at 11:04 pm by stonebankblog

Would the Stone Bank exist if not for Pierre Bottineau? Maybe. Maybe not.

Bottineau, N.D., is named for Pierre Bottineau, a French-Canadian fur trapper, guide and surveyor. He is credited with founding cities across Minnesota and North Dakota.

Bottineau, ND

Pierre Bottineau spoke several languages, which made him invaluable to those he guided through the unsettled areas north and west of the Twin Cities.

What I find so interesting is that Pierre lived in the Twin Cities and traveled extensively across the region — as far as Bottineau County in far-way North Dakota and beyond. For those of us who know that 500+ mile drive on paved roads, it’s amazing to think how far this incredible man rambled.

Bottineau County ND

So, how far did he walk? A very long way. And he did it many times or rode horse.

I have read that he once owned (briefly) Nicollet Island in Minneapolis — won it in a card game. Today, I found a photo online that said that he also owned land in Lowertown in Saint Paul. This guy was really amazing.

Bottineau, ND

Photo shows Lowertown, Saint Paul in 1851 showing the land claim of Pierre Bottineau.

Well, no wonder we have a statue of Pierre Bottineau on the courthouse lawn in Bottineau (only about four blocks from the Stone Bank). Here is a link to a very good summary of Mr. Bottineau‘s life and accomplishments. He really is someone to admire.

Pierre Bottineau statue

The Pierre Bottineau statue graces the lawn of the county courthouse in Bottineau, N.D.

According the Wikipedia, Pierre Bottineau’s talents were invaluable to the U.S. government during the early settlement era, and when he retired, the U.S. Congress granted him a pension of $50 a month. He died in Red Lake Falls, Minn., at the age of 78.

He never saw the Stone Bank — but I am betting that he would have approved of our fine stone building. At least, I hope he would have. It’s a tangible connection between us and the pioneers who settled in Bottineau. It is truly humbling to think about how brave they were and how hard they worked to carve towns like Bottineau out of the prairie.

Restoring the Stone Bank is no walk in the park, but compared to what Pierre Bottineau and the pioneers lived — we are kind of walking in the park.

Thanks for taking the journey with us, and thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog. See you back here tomorrow.

September 21, 2013

Summer’s clean up; for fall — forward!

Posted in Dismantling the back, History, Photos, Renovation, Uncategorized, Updates at 10:33 pm by stonebankblog

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As the seasons changed this weekend, so did the landscape at the Stone Bank Project.

Responding to complaints from the Bottineau City Council, workers cleaned up the construction site at the back of the bank building. First they used a skid loader to move all of the pallets of disassembled stone from the back lot to a nearby space, then they plowed under all of the weeds that had grown among the stones this summer. Ultimately, they moved more than a dozen pallets of concrete block off of 6th Street and onto the Stone Bank’s property.

In October, stone mason Joe Whetter says, he and his crew will install those concrete blocks on the footings they poured last month. The blocks will form the interior wall onto which Whetter will re-assemble the stone facade next spring.

Whetter admits that progress on the Stone Bank Project has come in fits and starts this summer, partly because of all the early rains and partly because larger projects elsewhere kept him and subcontractors preoccupied. But now that it’s fall, he is finishing those summer projects and promising to harvest his groundwork at the Stone Bank.

If he does, it won’t be the building’s first season of change. After all, Bottineau’s pioneers built the entire Stone Bank in the final six months of 1900.

The Stone Bank was built as Bottineau County Bank

The Stone Bank as it looked in 1901. It’s a swell building, isn’t it? Good bone structure makes it very good looking.

June 14, 2013

It’s big dig day at the Stone Bank

Posted in Dismantling the back, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Photos, Renovation, Uncategorized, Updates, Volunteers at 7:50 pm by stonebankblog

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Can you dig it? Yes, we can!

Or at least, Mikkelsen Aggregates can. What a HUGE favor Monte Mikkelsen did the Stone Bank Project today by donating more than $2,300 worth of excavator, dump trucks and crew to dig out the basement for a firm new foundation.

Daryle “Junior” Lorenz and his athletic son, Austyn, 15, expertly excavated an area about 33 feet long by 25 feet wide by 6 feet deep. That’s about 5,000 cubic feet of rocky rubble, dirt and clay gone in one day. They even worked through a midday thunderstorm that threatened to leave the Stone Bank as the only building on Bottineau’s Main Street with its own pool.

“This is a giant step forward,” said Sharon Kessler, president of Touchstones, Inc., the nonprofit organization formed to save and re-purpose the Stone Bank building. “We can’t thank Monte Mikkelsen enough for making it possible for us to complete the disassembly of the back quarter of the building — and he did it in time to complete the matching of our $20,000 grant from the Historical Society of North Dakota. We’ve been tearing down for two years; now we can start to build it back up!”

Stone mason Joe Whetter said he’ll pour concrete for the foundation and footings this week. He has already had 17 pallets of concrete block delivered to the site. He’ll use that to build the interior walls this summer, so we can extend the new insulated roof by fall and do interior work over the winter.

During today’s excavation, Austyn pulled seven bottles and part of a wine glass from the dirt and rubble. At least one of them dates to the 19th century. It held a “vegetable compound” patent medicine reputed to cure all “female complaints.”

“Getting this foundation dug in time to meet our grant match cured my complaints,” Kessler said. “Now if we can just get some more grants and matching local contributions, maybe we can get the Stone Bank ready for a cafe that serves coffee and vegetable soup, if not vegetable compounds.”

June 13, 2013

Visit us at the Bottineau County Fair!

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Main Street, Promotions/Contests, Uncategorized, Volunteers at 1:03 pm by stonebankblog

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today through Sunday afternoon, we will be one of the featured exhibitors at the Bottineau County Fair. Stop by and say, “Hi”; examine the architect’s blueprints for our Stone Bank Project; sign up for a daily drawing for a “Preservation Rocks!” T-shirt; get a wristband for $1 (or free, if you sign up for our email newsletters); and most helpful of all, sign up for our “Dedicate a Stone” fundraiser, at levels ranging from $25 to $500. We can even put through a credit card transaction from here at the fair.

Started in 1875, the Bottineau County Fair is the oldest county fair in North Dakota. It’s even 25 years older than the Stone Bank building. So what better place to publicize Bottineau County’s most historic Main Street building than at Bottineau’s historic county fair?

And even if you can’t make it to Bottineau for the County Fair, you can still “Dedicate a Stone” on our website — and buy a T-shirt or wristband here. Plus, if you “follow” this blog by signing up in the lower-right corner of this page, you’ll be on our list for email newsletters in the future.

Hope to see you at the fair. But right now, I have to go over to the First Lutheran lunch stand for my first piece of apple pie!

— By Mike Dorsher, Stone Bank advisory board member and webmaster

June 5, 2013

Weathered men vs. stone and concrete

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Photos, Renovation, Uncategorized, Updates, Volunteers at 11:57 am by stonebankblog

It felt pretty manly for a mild-mannered college professor to pick up a Hilte power hammer and start pounding away at the concrete and stone where the building and sidewalk have been fighting each other.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But after seven hours of scraping and hammering away — by hand, Hilte, chisel and crowbar — with a cold rain beating at my bald head, I knew that the prehistoric stone in this 113-year-old building would be the enduring element in this battle.

Still, by the end of the day, stone mason Joe Whetter, his helper Adrian Suchan and I had accomplished what we set out to do: We gave the Stone Bank a little breathing room by cutting back the sidewalk enough to insert a rubberized expansion joint. No longer will the sidewalk be cracking the building’s foundation and letting in water as they both go through the freeze-thaw cycle that almost never ends in Bottineau. The whole key to the Stone Bank Project is making the building water-tight again. Whetter dismantled the back 20 feet of the building, stone by stone, because a leaky roof and shallow foundation had made it start to crumble. We put a new, super-insulated roof on the front 60 feet of the building, and we’ll extend that to the back this year once Whetter and contractor Fred Kainz construct a deep, solid foundation and rebuild the back walls.

But meanwhile, while they wait for the rains to subside so they can finish pouring the foundation, we went to work on the nagging base problem — so we don’t end up with a water-tight roof and stone walls, only to have the concrete sidewalk undermine the building’s foundation. The result: “Score” one for the team of Whetter, Suchan and your aching-armed Stone Bank guest blogger.

— By Mike Dorsher, Stone Bank advisory board member and webmaster

P.S. For a more comprehensive slideshow on the Stone Bank Project, visit our all-new home page at

April 7, 2013

Stone Quote No. 8

Posted in Dismantling the back, History, Photos, Stone Quotes tagged , , , , at 12:00 pm by stonebankblog

The Giver and the Gift

James Russell Lowell, and American poet, 1819-1891

James Russell Lowell, an American poet, 1819-1891.

To learn more about poet James Russell Lowell, check out the Poetry Foundation’s biography.

Beauty and history are two other needs your “alms” can feed. Our work to preserve and restore the Stone Bank on Bottineau’s Main Street is moving ahead, but we really need your help to pay our stone mason and buy supplies. It’s a different kind of hunger — but one that must be met somehow.

How can you help?

Join our “Dedicate a Stone” campaign to help rebuild the back 20 feet of the bank over a new foundation.

Encourage your friends, family, neighbors and organizations to chip in.  We truly need your help to make this happen.

Want to know more about dedicating a stone? Click here and visit our website to see our lovely commemorative certificate.

Don’t leave us hanging!

The edge of the Stone Bank

The edge of the south wall dismantled in 2012. The wall will be rebuilt over a new foundation in 2013, with your support.

We have 20 feet down and 20 feet left to rebuild. Built in 1900, the Stone Bank has borne witness to a growing and changing Bottineau over the years. Help us restore it and put it back to use so it can reflect the changes of light and passing clouds and Bottineau history for another century.

Stone Bank Bottineau, ND

The Stone Bank showing the jagged edge at rear where 20 feet of the building was taken down.

The Stone Bank is a beauty worth saving. Please make a gift or a stone dedication today.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog. Scroll down to the last two posts to see pictures of our stone mason at work last week.

April 5, 2013

Really Heavy Lifting

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, History, Photos, Pictures at 1:07 am by stonebankblog

I don’t know about you, but my back hurts just looking at these photos.

Stone mason Joe Whetter dismantled more of the North Wall today — and he did it by HAND!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Joe estimated that one stone he removed from the wall today weighed 450 pounds. And another was 350.

The North Wall also told another story. Joe found stones charred from a fire in the building next door — when it was Lloyd’s Fairway — in the 1970s.  The fire was so intense that it had melted the mortar and cracked some of the stones. And Joe helped rebuild the concrete-block wall way back then.

Do you have a Stone Bank story? We would love to hear from you. This charming building connects us to our history.

Joe’s work on this project not only takes a strong back — but lots of dedication. Does his dedication inspire you to dedicate a stone? We hope so. With your help, the wall will come down, the foundation will be repaired and the back of the building will be restored. Dedicate a stone or send a donation today. (Joe has some fliers in his truck. Pick one up from the Chamber of Commerce or download one from the website.)

Thanks to Scott Wagar of the Bottineau Courant for the photos.  And thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog.

April 3, 2013

Behind the Wall … Another Wall

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, History, Photos, Pictures, Updates tagged , , , at 11:15 pm by stonebankblog


With the weather finally improving, stone mason Joe Whetter has gotten back to work on the Stone Bank.

Job #1 is to take down the North Wall to make way for foundation work, and Joe has been moving stone for a couple of days. Behind the Stone Bank’s North Wall is the concrete block wall of the building next door. Joe says there is a gap of several inches between the buildings — whew. Much easier for him to remove stone that is NOT attached to the building next door. (Joe actually worked on the concrete block wall in the 1970s!)

And while he dismantles it, the North Wall is telling Joe a bit of  its history. For instance, he said it is clear that the masons who put up this wall ran out of “medium” stones, because there were LARGE stones — 300 pounds — along the top rows.  What does that mean? Joe suggests that the long-ago masons ran short of stones cut to the right dimensions, wanted to finish and just used what they had on hand to get the job done. Then the roof  and the north parapet were covered in tar paper roofing and sat there for a good long time.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Speaking of moving stone — have you dedicated a stone yet? It’s a great way to- – a-hem  — kill two birds with one stone. Dedicate a stone to a loved one or your class, business or best friend and help support the ongoing restoration work at the Stone Bank.  Each stone dedication comes with a lovely commemorative certificate.  We have one posted on

You don’t have to lift anything but your pen to the face of a check to help us keep moving those stones.

Thanks to Scott Wagar of the Bottineau Courant for keeping an eye on the project and sharing his pictures.

As always, thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog.

March 18, 2013

Snow on Stone

Posted in Bottineau, History, Photos, Pictures, Updates tagged , , at 10:04 pm by stonebankblog

It has been a snowy and cold… no, make that a COLD week in Bottineau.

As luck would have it, the Stone Bank looks good in white.  Check out photos from this weekend and then compare them to the photo from 1903. On  Main Street 110 years ago there were no cell phones, no motorized snowplows, no Internet. but they sure had a heck of a lot of snow (and a very charming stone bank).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For snow lovers it has been a great winter.
But over at the Stone Bank Project
we are yearning for some nice weather,
so we can get back to work on the building. 
Have you dedicated your stone yet? Check it out on the website.

March 14, 2013

It Will Take Dedication(s)

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, History, Promotions/Contests, Updates tagged , at 9:31 pm by stonebankblog


We are rolling out our “Dedicate a Stone” campaign this weekend in Bottineau at the Spring Arts and Crafts Fair. It won’t feel like spring — because winter seems to want to hang around — but we hope to see you there.

Dedicating a stone to a loved one, your book club or business is a great way to put some oomph in our restoration project. As you probably know, our goal in 2013 is to put a new foundation under th back of the building and then put it back together again.

Once completed, we plan to have a “Wall of Honor” inside the restored building carrying the names of those whose generosity and dedications helped get this done.

We will also send you a lovely dedication certificate. See it posted on our website.

Stop by our table on Saturday, March 16, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. We would love to answer your questions about the project and have you dedicate a stone.

See you there — and thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog!

Previous page · Next page