June 12, 2014

Stone Bank windows reflect worldly workers

Posted in Friends of Stone Bank, Inside Stone Bank, Photos, Renovation, Updates, Volunteers at 1:59 am by stonebankblog

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As you might recall from our earlier blog posts, it was immigrants from Scotland, Scandinavia, Ireland and Canada who built the Stone Bank in 1900. Now, 114 years later, it’s visitors from Nepal, Cambodia, Cuba, India and Germany — not to mention Minnesota and Wisconsin — who are helping to renovate the Stone Bank building.

A team of eight Fulbright Scholars, plus four of their family members, came to Bottineau this week to visit a part of the U.S. they had never seen before and volunteer their services on the historic Stone Bank Project. The 12 of them spent two long days scraping, sanding and priming every wood window frame on the building.

Many hands make short(er) work, and now the window frames will at least stop deteriorating — until we have the funds to replace them with new windows that are energy efficient yet historic looking. We can’t thank the Fulbrighters enough for their efforts, which were beyond the call of duty even for them.

But we did give them each a spiffy Stone Bank “Preservation Rocks!” T-shirt. We’ll give you one, too, if you come work on our renovation project. Or if you can’t make it to Bottineau anytime soon, you can still get a Stone Bank T-shirt here, for a donation of $15 or more. Please consider donating much more, just as the Fulbrighters did, because we have $60,000 worth of work to do on the building’s exterior this year, and we need to at least match our new $20,000 grant from the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

You don’t have to be from Kathmando or Phnom Penh to donate time or money to the Stone Bank Project. We’re happy to take contributions from Bottineau or Bismarck, too. Make yours today, and you’ll feel as smart as a Fulbright Scholar by tomorrow!

 

December 31, 2013

You Rocked the Support!

Posted in Bottineau, Endangered buildings, Fundraising, Photos, Pictures, Renovation, Updates, Volunteers tagged , , , , at 12:09 pm by stonebankblog

Happy. Happy. New Year!

Happy. Happy. New Year!

It has been a really busy year at the Stone Bank — and it has been a year where we have made important progress — and have done a LOT of heavy lifting.

  • Our stone mason finished dismantling the back section of the bank in the spring of 2013.
  • We did some problem-solving around the issue of putting in a new foundation during the summer months, which included shoring up the foundation of the neighboring building and dealing with a wet spot.
  • Wonderful Monte Mikkelsen and his crew from Mikkelsen Aggregates donated time and equipment to excavate the pit for the new foundation.
  • Footings were poured and the new foundation began to rise in the fall, where none had existed before.
  • By late in the fall, the foundation was up to grade and we are in a great position to finish raising the back section in 2014.

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We couldn’t have done it without support from the Historical Society of ND and donations from Otter Tail Power, the Bottineau County Board, Preservation ND, Turtle Mountain Communications, St. Michel Furniture, the State Bank of Bottineau and dozens of individuals who made donations, dedicated a stone, bought T-shirts and volunteered their time to help move the project forward. Thank you!

But — we need to ask again. Can you write another check? We plan to make big progress in 2014. For starters, we will complete rebuilding the back 20 feet of the building and put the roof on. Then we need to get the old bank ready for its new life with plumbing and heating and renovating the interior!

Early in 2014, we are going to begin the process of finding a tenant or tenants for this swell building. Any ideas? We would love to hear them.

We are so excited for the Stone Bank’s potential to be a historic anchor for Bottineau’s Main Street. But we can’t get it done without community support. Remember, Touchstones, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so your donation is tax deductible.

So end 2013 with a glad tidings of support for the Stone Bank. This project is preserving a piece of Bottineau history — and helping the building play a role in Bottineau’s future.

Our fundraising goal for 2014 is $50,000. Every dollar helps.

foundation1

Let’s keep it going! The hardest part is behind us and the fun part is here.

Our mailing address is: Touchstones, Inc., 524 Main Street, P.O. Box 272, Bottineau, ND 58318

Or you can make a donation online using PayPal or Razoo. Links are on the right column of this page.

Happy New Year and thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog.

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 20, 2013

Exciting Times in Mud and Block

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, Photos, Pictures, Renovation, Updates tagged , , , at 1:14 am by stonebankblog

Uh-oh. Day 19 of National Blog Posting Month kind of slipped away. Here’s a post-19 post.

We have been covering a lot of ground during this challenge month, but it’s time to take it back to the bank. Today, we are focused on progress.

I am happy to report that we are making some.

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It’s easy to forget how far we have come. Since mid-2011, when we formed the nonprofit Touchstones and purchased the building, we have made steady progress. We started with an architectural assessment and cleared decades of accumulated “stuff” out of the building. Then we had the asbestos removed from the building, put a new roof on the front three-quarters, dismantled the back 20 feet of the building stone by stone, worked with our architect on a rebuilding plan, shored up the foundation of the building next door, dug a foundation for the back of the building — and, now, we are putting it back together again.

In addition, we have written grants, worked to persuade the City Council that we could save the building and restore it to a productive use. We have built a website, blogged and Tweeted away.

Inch by inch, donation by donation, we are cash-flowing this project — doing what we can, when we can.

We are glad you are along for the journey. It’s not exactly slow motion — but it is a journey on which we are learning a lot about history, tenacity and finishing what we start.

Can you help? Buy a T-shirt, dedicate a stone, make a contribution — every bit helps.

See you back here tomorrow — er, later today.

November 1, 2013

Block. Mortar. Progress.

Posted in Bottineau, Photos, Pictures, Renovation, Stone Work, Updates tagged , , , at 10:26 pm by stonebankblog

Let’s face it. This is just plain exciting for friends and fans of the Stone Bank project. Stone mason Joe Whetter and his crew are putting a foundation up where none used to exist.

Here are photos of the first day of putting down the foundation. It’s amazing how quickly Joe could lay a row of concrete block — the hard part surely was the prep work.

Stone Bank in Bottinea, ND

Sharp corner at what will be the rear of the bank.

Joe and his crew made amazing progress in a single afternoon -- and the weather (for once cooperated).

Joe and his crew made amazing progress in a single afternoon — and the weather (for once) was sweet and cooperative. Rock on!

Stone Bank in Bottineau, ND

Stone mason Joe Whetter placed horizontal reinforcement between the layers of block.

At the Stone Bank, we embrace challenge — obviously. So, we are taking up the challenge from WordPress to write a blog post every day during the month of November. It’s called NaBloPoMo — National Blog Posting Month, and you can help! Do you have a photo of the bank or a special memory? We would love to post your guest blog this month. So send us your ideas or your posts. Send us a photo of you wearing your smashing Stone Bank T-shirt. This is going to be fun. Join us. It’s all good.

As always — thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog.

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

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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

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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 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.

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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 http://www.StoneBank.org

April 22, 2013

Move Over Sisyphus

Posted in Dismantling the back, Photos, Pictures, Renovation, Updates tagged , , at 12:35 am by stonebankblog

Moving stone — successfully.  That’s the story this week at the Stone Bank.

Stone Bank Bottineau ND

Stone mason Joe Whetter removes a stone from the North Wall. Blackened stones behind him show damage from a fire in the 1970s.

After a couple weeks of work, Joe has completed taking down the North Wall — stone by heavy stone.

The North Wall of the Stone Bank has been removed. Wall at rear is the exterior wall of the building next door. Foreground shows remaining raised foundation on south of Stone Bank and floor joists.

The North Wall of the Stone Bank has been removed. Wall at rear is the exterior wall of the building next door. Foreground shows remaining raised foundation on south of Stone Bank and floor joists.

For those of you just joining us, we had to dismantle the back 20 feet of the Stone Bank, which was built of local stone in 1900. The back section sits on shallow  footings and was settling and causing structural issues. In 2013, we will put a new foundation under the back of the building  and then put it all back together again — with all the modern conveniences.

Stone Bank dismantling project in Bottineau, ND

This picture from October 2012, shows the North Wall exposed during the dismantling process. Cold temps and heavy snow stalled work on the project in the fall — but we are moving now.

Now what? We keep moving.  We have  a great architect, a strong and determined stone mason and a plan. What we need is your help. Even with grant money, we need local donations to help get this marvelous structure repaired and put back into use.

Here’s the difference between the “legend of the Stone Bank” and the myth of Sisyphus. The Stone Bank Project is not going to last an eternity — nor is it punishment.  Instead, we are embracing our town’s history and this wonderful building and pushing the Stone Bank into the future.

Can you help? Dedicate a stone or send a donation. You don’t have to lift anything heavier that your pen — and you can help put the Stone Bank back together again.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog.

November 4, 2012

Razoo to You, too!

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, Main Street, Photos, Renovation, Updates tagged , , , at 11:39 pm by stonebankblog

Greetings from Stone Bank fundraising HQ where we have some news to report. But first, let’s pause for a lovely picture of the Stone Bank.

Stone Bank at dawn on a clear, cold October morning. It simply glows in the light.

We are pleased to report some incoming contributions for the Stone Bank Project. A list of  recent supporters is posted on top of the Stone Bank homepage. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We needed that. And that. And that.

Also, to make things easier for online giving, we have opened an account with Razoo. Ra-what? You ask.

Razoo is a national company that works with nonprofits around the country to raise millions for great causes like ours. We have posted a Razoo “donate” button on this page and on the Stone Bank’s homepage. No need to find an envelope, a stamp and remember our address — just click and give!  Nearly 100 percent of your donation comes directly to the Stone Bank.  (For instance,  a $100 online contribution will bring $97  to the Stone Bank.  Very fair for the ease and accessibility of the service. Give it a try. There are several other great Bottineau nonprofits on Razoo, too. Just search for Bottineau’s zipcode — 58318 — to find other worthy projects.

Did you know that November 15th is Give to the Max Day? Nonprofits across the country work to get out end-of-year donations on the National Day of Giving. We hope when you think of charitable giving that the Stone Bank Project is near the top of your list. And then you take action.

This is a critical time for your support, because at the end of the month our stone mason will finish dismantling the back 20 feet of the building. Your donations create the matching funds we need for $25,000 in grants that support this project.

Stone Bank in Bottineau ND

The stone wall at left in this picture and the remaining  rear foundation will be dismantled in late November 2012. Rebuilding over a new foundation is planned for 2013 with your support.

This fall’s work will ready the project for its “rebuild phase” in early 2013. So, Razoo to you! It’s a great way to help the Stone Bank Project move ahead. Thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog. We appreciate your interest in our project. Here’s another early morning shot of the bank. Charming and pretty! It glows in the light — and you’ll glow, too, knowing your contribution helped bring this historic building back to life.

Stone Bank in Bottineau, ND

Dawn’s light glows in the front window of the Stone Bank.

As excited as we are to offer online giving through Razoo, we won’t turn down your check. Send it to: Touchstones, Inc., 524 Main St., PO Box 272, Bottineau, ND 58318

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