June 7, 2017

We aren’t crazy optimists; We’re ahead of the curve!

Posted in Bottineau, Endangered buildings, Fundraising, Main Street, Photos, Updates tagged , , , , , , at 12:14 am by stonebankblog

Restoring a landmark in ND. The Stone Bank

Sharon Kessler and Joe Whetter are spearheading the effort to return the Stone Bank to use. It was built in 1900 with stones carried to North Dakota by glaciers.

Joe Whetter and I were classmates at Bottineau High, but we didn’t know each other well. I am not sure we ever spoke in high school. But for the past six years, we have talked a lot about and worked to restore and repurpose a beautiful stone building on Bottineau’s Main Street that we now call the Stone Bank.

Joe, a stone mason, has done the heavy lifting – lending his know-how and strength to the project. Me? I  write grant proposals, do  fundraising and lead the board of a nonprofit dedicated to repairing the Stone Bank.

Our goal is to retain the building’s historic character while making it useful for another 100 years.

Since 2011, we have encountered asbestos, a very leaky roof and a crumbling back wall. Joe dismantled the back 20 feet of the building so we could put in a new foundation and rebuild the back.

We have worked with architects, historians and community members to meet this challenge – and it has taken time to raise the money to help us move the project along.

Fast forward to 2017. Smart Growth America, a D.C. nonprofit, says we are not crazy optimists – we are ahead of the curve!

Smart Growth works across the U.S. with elected officials, real estate developers, chambers of commerce, urban and rural planners and community groups and leaders in D.C. to improve everyday life for people across the country through better development.

In 2016, a Smart Growth team visited Bottineau, toured the community and surrounding area and met community leaders to help craft a vision for Bottineau’s future development. The resulting report offered six recommendations to help Bottineau remain a vibrant and growing community.

Guess what?

The No. 1 recommendation was “restore and repurpose historic structures for community revitalization.” Read the Smart Growth report.

The Smart Growth report specifically cites the Stone Bank Project and its slow progress because of “a lack of funds.” So, there you have it.

A great idea. A work in progress.

A lack of funds.

 

 

Yearbook Bottineau ND Stone Bank

The Class of ’72 yearbook cover broke new ground with an abstract image of the Bottineau High entrance by our classmate Morris McKnight.

Forty-five years ago, the Class of ’72 graduated with eyes trained on the future. Now, honoring the past can be our legacy.

We are asking our high school classmates to lend a hand in the Stone Bank restoration. No heavy lifting involved. We are challenging each of our classmates to contribute $100 (or whatever you can give) to help pay for enclosing the new basement.

By June 30, we need to make a dollar-for-dollar match of a $20,000 grant from the Historical Society of North Dakota. If we can’t raise the match, we leave some part of the money for reconstruction on the table.

And we want other BHS grads to join the effort. Let’s see which class can move the most stone. Rock on!

All donations go straight to the project, and your donation will make a difference in 2017. In total, we only need to raise $53,000 (including $20k from the state) to enclose the building. Can you help?

Time is of the essence if we hope to claim the full $20,000 grant from the Historical Society of ND.

We have started a Go Fund Me campaign for online giving. Or you can mail a check to Touchstones.Inc. (The Stone Bank Project), PO Box 272, Bottineau, ND 58318.

We also accept gifts by PayPal.

Does your employer match your charitable gifts?

Touchstones is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit – so your gift is tax deductible AND eligible for an employer match.

Please, make a donation today.  If you love Bottineau and its historic buildings, today is the day to show your support. Your gift WILL make a difference.

Thank you.

Sharon Kessler, a cockeyed optimist from the BHS Class of ’72

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August 3, 2015

State historian sees good progress during Stone Bank site visit

Posted in History, Inside Stone Bank, Photos, Pictures, Renovation, Stone Work, Updates tagged , , at 7:11 pm by stonebankblog

Touchstones advisory board member Mike Dorsher and State Historical Society Architectural Historian Lorna Meidinger survey the new concrete heated floor and support walls at the Stone Bank project.

Touchstones advisory board member Mike Dorsher and State Historical Society Architectural Historian Lorna Meidinger survey the new concrete heated floor and support walls at the Stone Bank project.

This year’s progress on the Stone Bank project is encouraging, and the restoration work might merit even larger matching grants in the near future, State Historical Society Architectural Historian Lorna Meidinger said today in Bottineau.

“It sure looks different now. You just keep making progress,” Meidinger said today, nearly three years after her last site visit to the Stone Bank project. “Not every (restoration) project keeps going. People get anxious and discouraged.”

Meidinger said she was happy to see that the Stone Bank project is now well into its construction phase, not just destruction any longer. She climbed down onto the basement’s new concrete floor with embedded heating coils and inspected the concrete block walls that will support the stone facade. She agreed it will be crucial to build the rest of the concrete walls and extend the new roof over the back 29 feet of the building before the snow flies this year.

Meidinger also toured the interior of the original 1900 structure and agreed that it would be relatively easy to take down the partition walls and open the space for a bright and airy cafe or meeting rooms. The architectural historian gave her approval to all of the scraping, priming and painting of Stone Bank window frames that a group of 12 visiting Fulbright Scholars did last summer.

“Volunteers aren’t always that careful with their work,” she said.

More help could be on the way from Bismarck, Meidinger said, noting that she and others are pushing for the State Historical Society of North Dakota to raise its $20,000 ceiling for annual matching grants. The Stone Bank project has already garnered two $20,000 grants and one $15,000 grant from the SHSND, but all grants from the state must be matched with donations of money or labor from the community.

Currently, the need for private donations is urgent, because if we can’t afford to finish the block walls and back roof before winter, ice will start to damage the basement walls and flooring already installed this year. So please send your tax-deductible contributions to P.O. Box 272, Bottineau, N.D. 58318 or use the PayPal or Razoo links to the right to put it on your credit card.

July 22, 2015

Concrete progress at the Stone Bank

Posted in Inside Stone Bank, Photos, Pictures, Renovation, Updates tagged , , , , , at 7:50 am by stonebankblog

There you go! We have a fresh concrete floor in the Stone Bank’s basement.

This is the room where there were two heating fuel tanks for the building’s old boiler and the floor was dirty, crumbling concrete.

Much better.

In the lower right of the photo above, the black circular object is the top of our recently installed sewage lift pump. PROGRESS x 2.


Here is the in-floor heating in the part of the building that we took down and are putting back together. A concrete floor will be poured over the heat elements. In-floor heat! Pretty cool update for an old building in a cold climate.

Now, the back 20-feet of the building has nice deep footings to support the weight of a stone-clad structure. When our nonprofit purchased the Stone Bank  in 2011, the back section of the building had only a crawl space — and the back wall of the building was sinking, because it was resting on footings that were much too shallow.

When complete, the back of the Stone Bank will look much the same as it did when we started the project, but it will have a much sturdier foundation, a handicap entrance and two handicap-accessible restrooms.

That’s the way you take a building from 1900 into 2015 — and beyond.

Do you want to be part of the Stone Bank project? We always welcome volunteers, but right now, we really need donations to keep the ball — or stone — rolling on enclosing the back of the building.

Your donations will help us match a generous $20,000 grant from the Historical Society of ND. We also accept online gifts with PayPal and Razoo. The links are in the sidebar.

As always, thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog. Please, share this post with your friends and family!

July 16, 2015

Everything’s Looking Up in Stone Bank’s Basement

Posted in Inside Stone Bank, Photos, Pictures, Renovation, Updates tagged , , , , , at 7:24 am by stonebankblog

Our Stone Bank contractors have been working hard to finish work in the basement — breaking up and hauling out the old concrete floor and creating a base for a new floor.

Stone Bank restoration, Bottineau ND

Before we can have a new basement floor, our crew had to remove the old, broken concrete from the Stone Bank’s basement. (Photo  courtesy of  D. Pederson)

After the crew broke up the old concrete, they hauled it into the new section of the basement where the rubble was taken away by backhoe.

image

Strong backs built the Stone Bank 115 years ago — and we have some strong backs and heavy equipment putting the back of the building together again. We took apart 20 feet of the building to put a foundation under it. (Don’t worry. We saved the stone and will put it up again.) This photo shows the new section of the basment. (Photos courtesy Scott Wagar)

Stone Bank restoration, Botutinea

Crew members of Jim Berg Construction scooped up the remnants of the old basement floor inside  the building to make way for a new, smooth concrete floor.

Make no mistake. This was a tough job. We appreciate our contractors and their crews — because they are doing the hard part of making the building whole again.

The result of all that hard work? A nice, smooth surface that will soon be a concrete basement floor. Notice the handsome stone walls in the basement. Built by immigrant craftsmen between July and December 1900.

Stone Bank restoration, Bottineau,

Wow! What a difference. The basement is prepped and ready for a new concrete floor.  For  everyone who loves the Stone Bank, this  is a beautiful sight.

Check back here soon to see more progress on our restoration project.

Want to be part of the action? We have some volunteer opportunities, but mosly we need donations. We must pay our contractors for all their heavy lifting — and for that we need cash. Any amount is welcome and all donations go directly into the restoration project.

You don’t have to put out your back  to do your part to save this historic building. Just pick up a pen and send a check today to Touchstones, Inc., P.O. Box 272, Bottineau, ND 58318. PayPal and Razoo online payment sites are linked in the sidebar.

We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and your gift is tax deductible.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog!

December 13, 2014

Stone Quote No. 11

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 2:05 pm by stonebankblog

We are feeling kind of philosophical as the end of the year draws near. We are proud of our progress on restoring the bank and eager for what comes next.

Stone Bank restoration project, Bottineau ND

From the Peace Chapel at the International Peace Garden near Dunseith, ND.

Yes. We are looking ahead with optimism to the next step in our project. In 2015, we WILL raise the back of the building and put the roof on. PERIOD. We are ready to go. Our greatest concern is hiring the help to do the heavy lifting.

Because of the oil boom in North Dakota, it has been excessively difficult to find the skilled labor (plumber, electrician and contractor) that we need to get this done. With oil prices down, the prediction is that oil exploration will slow. That could be good new for us — because some of the building trades guys might have time to work with us.

We also need to match a $20,000 grant from the Historical Society of North Dakota. That will go a long way to enclosing the building in 2015. (We actually hope to get the floor joists in place this winter — as soon as the plumber finishes his work in our brand new basement.)

As you make your charitable gifts at the end of 2014, please make a gift to the Stone Bank restoration. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so your gift is tax deductible. Your gift will move the Stone Bank closer to its new life as a working building on Bottineau’s Main Street! We are on the right road!

Learn more about the project, the bank’s history, make a contribution or dedicate a stone on our website.

As always, thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog!

December 8, 2014

Rockin’ the Beach in a Stone Bank T

Posted in Friends of Stone Bank, Fundraising, Photos, Pictures tagged , , , , at 12:30 am by stonebankblog

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It’s snowing up North (and on our blog), but look! The Stone Bank T-shirt makes excellent beach apparel!

Our friend, Laura, recently took her new PRESERVATION ROCKS shirt to a Florida beach! And she totally ROCKED it!

She has the right idea! The Stone Bank T is charming, lovely and easy to pack. AND it’s a great conversation starter for those chance meeting with a handsome stranger or an old friend.

Still time to get yours for the holidays. Best of all. Your donation of $15 will help us match our grant from the Historical Society of ND and help rebuild the back section of the building in 2015.

We love to post photos of our friends wearing the Stone Bank T. Send yours to touchstones.inc@gmail.com with a few details about the location and we will share it.

You can make a contribution right on this page. Then send us a note about size and color of shirt and we will send it along to you. There are more details and photos on our website. We now have a limited number of long-sleeve shirts, for those who are not getting to the beach this winter.

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 18, 2013

The Stone Will Remember

Posted in Bottineau, Endangered buildings, History, Stone Quotes tagged , , , at 9:29 pm by stonebankblog

Here’s a stone quote — not etched in stone — but about stone.

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Construction of the Stone Bank was completed in mid-December 1900. Imagine the world that has rolled past it over 113 years. This building really is a link to those who came before us, you can actually see the chisel marks in the stone. It remembers.

We are glad it does.

It’s Day 18 of National Blog Posting Month — and we would appreciate it if you “remember” the Stone Bank with a contribution. We are actively restoring this beautiful structure, and you can touch history by helping us put the back section of the building back together again.

The stone will remember, and, I think I hear it saying “thanks.”

November 10, 2013

Stone Bank T Flies Through ORD

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 12:09 pm by stonebankblog

Stone Bank T Flies Through ORD

Here’s a Stone Bank friend, Karen M., on her journey home from a visit to Bottineau. Look! Look! Karen wore her lovely Stone Bank T-shirt on the journey. Where are you wearing your Stone Bank T? We would love to share your photo here during #NaBloPoMo. Don’t have a T-shirt yet? Order one online or stop by 4J’s Sporting Goods on Main Street in Bottineau and pick one up. They make excellent traveling wear and stocking stuffers.

November 3, 2013

It takes courage… and patience

Posted in Bottineau, Inside Stone Bank, Photos, Pictures, Stone Work, Updates tagged , , , , at 7:11 pm by stonebankblog

Let’s see. You take a 100+ year-old building with some structural problems that the city is threatening to condemn.

So, uh, someone should do something, Right?

Turns out that someone is YOU and a couple of friends. So you jump in and get to work.

But the work is hard and progress is slow — but you push on. And on. And on.

Discouraged? Sometimes.

Quitting? NOT ON YOUR LIFE.

Stone Bank project in Bottineau, ND

Slogans and helpful sayings somehow are helpful. Here’s one.

So, no. It is not easy. But saving this historic gem is right and that makes it worth the angst.

Stone Bank, Bottineau, ND

This is how the Stone Bank looked in October 2011. The back wall was crumbling and something clearly had to be done.

So we made a plan to save the Stone Bank by fixing what was wrong. Part of the problem was caused by a roof that was more like a sieve. The other problem was that the back section of the building was constructed over shallow footings.

Stone Bank, Bottineau, ND

This is what the back 20 feet of the Stone Bank was sitting on — very shallow footings. At rear, you can see the back stone shelf supporting the back wall.

So with a great deal of physical labor and some time, we took the back section of the bank apart, stone by stone. (Some of the stones weighed more that 200 pounds.) The stones were labeled and saved and will be reused when we put the back section of the bank back together again.

Stone Bank, Bottineau, ND

The Stone Bank with the back wall and 20 feet of the south wall removed. The stone wall at rear in this photo was dismantled in 2012 and early 2013.

So, yes. This is hard. But our hearts are light. Because we are now rebuilding the back section of the building, starting with deep footings and a proper foundation. This is progress and it feels great.

Care to help? We have to pay our contractors and our taxes and insurance — so we are always happy to receive donations. You can buy a T-shirt or dedicate a stone. Or you can drop a bag of money on our doorstep. All the details on how to give are on our website.

Stay tuned for more photos.

Rome wasn’t built in a day — and the Stone Bank sort of has the same attitude.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog. We sure appreciate it when you “like” our posts.

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