July 31, 2014

Volunteers! We love ’em

Posted in Bottineau, Endangered buildings, Photos, Pictures, Updates, Volunteers tagged , , , , at 10:50 pm by stonebankblog

There she sits! The Stone Bank is looking a bit more chic after a long overdue touchup of the paint on her window frames. And we owe it all to volunteers. A group of Fulbright scholars spent a couple days in June, rolled up their sleeves and made it happen.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Volunteers scraped, sanded and painted the Stone Bank's windows. Looking good!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Volunteers scraped, sanded and painted the Stone Bank’s windows. She is looking good and ready for more restorative work!











Want more? Of course, you do. Who doesn’t want to see the Stone Bank looking chipper?

So let’s keep it going. Our project has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Historical Society of ND to continue work to restore the bank building. But we need to match the grant with local contributions of cash or labor.

If we can raise the money — we can raise the back section of the bank and get the building back into use.

So, we need your support. Your donation will go directly into rebuilding costs. Other than insurance and our P.O. Box rental, our overhead is almost ZERO. Oh, speaking of the P.O. Box — It is P.O. Box 272, Bottineau, ND 58318. Send a check or make a donation with PayPal.

This summer, the plan is to get the plumbing roughed in and the floor joists installed. From there we will rebuild the walls and add the roof. It is all possible, if we have the money to pay the contractors. Can you help? Great.

We appreciate it.

The Stone Bank's front window with a fresh coat of paint on the wooden window frame.

The Stone Bank’s front window with a fresh coat of paint on the wooden window frame.


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.

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.

May 19, 2013

Five Bottles and a Hiccup

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, Photos, Pictures, Updates tagged , , , at 10:59 pm by stonebankblog

The back section of the Stone Bank has been completely dismantled and work to excavate the foundation has begun … and then we paused.

Here are some pictures of the work in progress followed by a story published in the Bottineau Courant with details about our construction hiccup.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From the Bottineau Courant:

Stone Bank Getting a Firm Foundation

Five old bottles and a construction hiccup surfaced at the Stone Bank Project on Bottineau’s Main Street last week when Joe Whetter finished dismantling the back of the structure and began to excavate the foundation.

“The hard part is over,” said Whetter, the project’s stone mason, after taking down stones weighing as much as 500 pounds from the building’s north wall.

As he began to scrape away the earth in what had been a crawl space under the back of the building, he found several early-1900s bottles embedded in the old crawl space.  And then he found the hiccup.

Instead of a solid foundation wall on the Family Vision building next door, he ran into crumbling earth.

After some probing, he found that Family Vision’s foundation didn’t extend the full width of the building. About 50 feet back from Main Street, Family Vision’s foundation narrows, and the building sits atop a concrete platform that is cantilevered off the narrower foundation.

“I’ve seen it before, and it’s not a big problem as long as we get at it right away,” Whetter said.

After conferring with Paul Dunderland of Family Vision, Whetter and architect Bobbi Hepper-Olson arrived at a plan.

Whetter will place four concrete footings at a depth of about 5 feet under Family Vision’s floating foundation in the midsection of the building. He will then build four steel-reinforced concrete columns on the footings to support the middle section of the building.

With “40 feet or more of rebar” inside each of the concrete columns, Whetter said Family Vision’s foundation will be supported.  Then he will continue work on putting a foundation under the back of the Stone Bank. When the Stone Bank’s basement wall is up, Whetter will pour flowable fill between the outside of the Stone Bank’s foundation and the concrete columns supporting Family Vision’s foundation.

“There are always surprises when you work on old buildings,” said Hepper-Olson, who visited the Stone Bank on May 3 in preparation for drawing final plans for reconstruction of the building’s back 20 feet. “This is a manageable surprise. I’ve seen things like this before.”

Whetter planned to place the two center columns on Saturday and will “let them strengthen up a bit” before placing the other two footings and columns. Once the work to undergird the Family Vision building is complete, excavation of a basement for the back of the Stone Bank can begin.

“We want to be good neighbors and not only do right by the Stone Bank but do right by the Family Vision building,” said Sharon Kessler, the president of Touchstones, the nonprofit group restoring the old bank building.

“I was reassured by our architect and Joe that this isn’t a huge problem,” Kessler said. “When Paul Dunderland met with us and said: ‘Do what you need to do,’ I was relieved. This is just a short distraction, and then we can get on with rebuilding the back of the Stone Bank.”

The additional cost to undergird the Family Vision building is $1,800.

“We only get one chance to do this right and this money will be well-spent.” Kessler said.  “We will have to find donors or grants to help pay for it, but it will be worth it in the end.”

Information about the Stone Bank project and how you can help support the project is online at http://www.StoneBank.org.


We will be posting more photos and updates as the work chugs along. The hiccup and the $1,800 detour it caused means we need more donations to get this thing done. Can you help? Send a donation or dedicate a stone today. As always, thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog!

September 13, 2012

Population 1900 and 2011

Posted in Bottineau, History, Life, Updates tagged , , , , at 10:40 pm by stonebankblog

Sometimes it’s really true that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Here’s an item from the Bottineau Courant in 1900, reporting the astounding growth in population between 1890 and 1900, when the county’s population more than doubled.

What’s even more astounding is that in 1900 Bottineau County had more residents than Burleigh County — home of Bismarck, the state capital. (North Dakota gained statehood in 1889.) Even back then, Grand Forks County and Cass County,  where  Fargo is located, were the “big cities” of North Dakota.

ND Population by county in 1900

During the peak of the settlement era, Bottineau County’s population more than doubled.

A check of  U.S. census data shows that Bottineau County had 9,239 residents in 1980. And in 2011?

The county had fallen below the number set in 1900. Wow. At last count, Bottineau County had 6,443 residents.

But this could tick up, and probably has already with the oil activity in the area.

So, when the “stone” Stone Bank was under construction, the local area was booming. Bottineau County Bank was founded in 1887, and what we now call the Stone Bank was built in 1900. So, it’s a boom town bank!

It’s all rather interesting, isn’t? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment or your own history lesson. We love to hear from our readers.

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!

January 26, 2012

Stone Bank milepost

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, Pictures, Stone Work, Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:15 pm by stonebankblog

As the late Etta James sang: “AT LAST.”

Late today, stone mason Joe Whetter finished dismantling the back 20 feet of the Stone Bank building on Bottineau’s Main Street. Bravo!

Joe and his crew have been removing stone since the week of Nov. 18.

Dismantling project complete at Stone Bank-Bottineau

The Stone Bank in Bottineau is 20 feet shorter -- temporarily. The door in the
foreground is propped about where it used to be. At right, the stack of red sandstone
shows where a window was removed.

What a great way to begin 2012! We have made great progress on saving this wonderful structure from the wrecking ball — but we won’t stop there.

Our plan for 2012 is to raise the money to put a proper foundation under this section of the building and then put it back up — stone by stone. But this time the building will include a handicapped entrance at the rear of the building.

Stone Bank before dismantling work

This is the section of the bank that was dismantled. Extensive water damage
to the building's roof and back wall made it necessary to take it apart to save it.

Touchstones — the nonprofit working to restore this wonderful, historic building — will have its hands full raising the money for the rebuilding process. Can you help? Click the PayPal link on our homepage http://www.stonebank.org or send us a check! Every nickle will help. And the IRS has approved our 501 (c) (3) status! So anything you give is completely tax deductible.

It’s a great day for the Stone Bank project — why not make it an even better day with your contribution?

Dismantled section of Stone Bank in Bottineau, ND

This view, looking toward Main Street shows the interior stone wall left standing.
The white flap at top is the edge of the new membrane roof that covers the front two-thirds of the building. Below it, a temporary wall closes the building to the elements.

Thanks to our intrepid stone mason and his crew and to Scott Wagar for the up-to-date photos.

Happy New Year!