August 22, 2022

Stone Bank’s back is up!

Posted in Bottineau tagged , , , , , , at 5:09 pm by stonebankblog

YES! It has taken a while… but we have finished the work to rebuild the back of the Stone Bank! It’s a BIG deal. As you may recall, we took down the back 20 feet of the building to put it on a firm foundation.

The Stone Bank on Main Street in Bottineau, ND was built in 1900 by local craftsmen. The stones were carried to North Dakota by glaciers and shaped on site. The front of the building sits on a stone foundation, too. Work to repair and repurpose the building began in 2011.

In 2021, we matched a $28,491 grant from the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and our contractors worked in difficult weather in late 2021 and early 2022 to rebuild the back of the building. The Bottineau County Economic Development Commission helped match the grant with a low-interest loan and many donors gave to make this work possible.

The arched entry at the back of the building will make the building handicap-accessible entrance. We added about 9 feet to the structure to make that possible.

Next steps? Our stone mason is cutting original stones to reattach the stone facade. Every gift to the project goes to moving the project forward.


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

June 7, 2014

A Beauty Treatment

Posted in Friends of Stone Bank, Photos, Pictures, Updates, Volunteers tagged , , , , at 11:25 pm by stonebankblog

Hey, everyone! It’s been too long! Lots going on at the Stone Bank. Here’s  the latest:

Stone Bank restoration

We are working to put this wonderful building back to use on Bottineau’s Main Street.

Volunteers are descending on the Stone Bank on Sunday, June 8, to tackle a really tough project — they are going to scrape, sand, prime and paint the Stone Bank’s windows.

These are very special volunteers — a group of Fulbright scholars from the Minnesota/ND chapter — who are taking a tour of North Dakota and making time to lend a hand in the community. We couldn’t be happier!

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We know that the windows will have to be replaced — but that is later. We need to rebuild the back section of the building and then move on to projects like the windows. In the meantime, they will look better, thanks to this crew of volunteers. Some local volunteers are going to help, too. We will post more as the project takes shape.

Free labor is a great thing. But the Stone Bank needs cash to buy paint and other supplies. We need to match a new grant from the Historical Society of ND, too. Can you help? Every donation helps. Hey, look! There is a PayPal link on this page. (For your convenience.)

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog!

January 19, 2014

Old and Still Very Useful

Posted in Bottineau, History, Main Street, Photos, Pictures, Updates tagged , , , , , , at 10:08 pm by stonebankblog

Oh, how it makes the Stone Bank blogger happy to see a great old building with a new lease on life.

Right there on Main Street in Red Wing, Minn., is a Caribou Coffee in a red brick railway station from 1906. Not too crazy about the interior, but it’s just great to see this building standing, sturdy and useful. Hurrah.

Don’t you love a timeline? Here are the details:

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Love it!

We want the same for our Stone Bank. Sturdy and useful and IN USE for the next 100 years or more.

For comparison’s sake: Bottineau County Bank (what we now call the Stone Bank) was founded in 1887. The Stone Bank was built in the last six months in 1900 — and replaced an earlier wood-frame building. It was Bottineau’s first bank, which failed in 1923. The building had many uses over the years and most recently was a lawyer’s office. We know that our restoration project will give it a new life in the next couple of years.

Do you have a favorite restored building in your home town or someplace you have visited? What was it built for and how is it now used? Send a photo and we will post it.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog. Comments and contributions always welcome.

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 8, 2013

Stone Quote #10

Posted in Photos, Pictures, Stone Quotes, Updates tagged , , , , , at 5:07 pm by stonebankblog

As longtime readers of the Stone Bank blog can attest, at times we get a little philosophical around here.

Today’s deep thought: (in honor of Week 2 of National Blog Posting Month)

Stone Bank restoration

This is profound thought is great for National Blog Posting Month — there is still a long way to go and many posts to write.  About the Stone Bank, we have great hope. No time for despair.

Some of you have asked where we found these great quotes etched in limestone.

Answer: In the Peace Chapel at the International Peace Garden.

May you have deep thoughts and a great weekend. Thanks for reading the blog.

November 5, 2013

You Look Great in Blue!

Posted in Friends of Stone Bank, Photos, Pictures tagged , , , , at 1:47 pm by stonebankblog

This is really a nice T-shirt!

That’s why my colleague Jeff G. said when he put on his new Stone Bank T-shirt.

Stone Bank in Bottineau, Nd

Another friend of the Stone Bank rocks the T-shirt. But his hands are out suggesting perhaps that you make a donation to our worthy cause.

Buy a shirt. Send us a photo and we will post it on the blog.

Jeff’s photo was taken at the office in downtown Saint Paul. Where will you pose for your Stone Bank photo?

We would love to post it here during National Blog Posting Month. The month is young — and we have the room.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog. We always appreciate comments and likes. (Heck, everyone wants to be liked. Jeff does. The Stone Bank does. The blogger does. So send us some love.)

Check out our website for information on ordering a T-shirt.

November 2, 2013

Rockin’ the T-Shirt

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, Photos, Pictures tagged , , , at 9:27 pm by stonebankblog

What are the hipsters wearing near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis?

A Stone Bank T-shirt, of course.

Stone Bank T-shirt

She designed this T-shirt and she is rockin’ it. MaryB says  hello from Minneapolis.

Thanks for the great design MaryB. We love the T-shirt. We think there should be one in every closet.

How about you? We would love to publish a photo of you in your Stone Bank T!  But first you have to order one. Easy to do.

Order on our website, or stop by 4J’s Sporting Goods in Bottineau — they have them in stock.

We have women’s cut T-shirts in antique cherry red (gorgeous) from small to 3x. Men’s cut T’s are in periwinkle blue, from medium to 3x.

Show your Stone Bank spirit and order your T-shirt today. They are only $15, 100% cotton and a great conversation starter. All proceeds support the Stone Bank project. (And we pay the shipping.)

This is Day 2 of National Blog Posting Month, and we hope to publish at least 10 photos of our friends sporting their Stone Bank T’s. Let’s go.

Do you have a photo or a Stone Bank story to share? Send them to and we will share them on our blog.

September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

Posted in Bottineau, Photos, Pictures, Updates tagged , , at 1:40 pm by stonebankblog

We hope that Labor Day finds you taking a break from work and enjoying the long weekend. Enjoy.

At the Stone Bank, we are enjoying the weekend, but we never stop “working” on finding the money to push our project along.

How can you help? But a T-shirt. Dedicate a stone or just make a contribution.

Buy a Stone Bank T-shirt

We have new T’s — red in a women’s cut and blue for men. Only $15.

We recently rolled out our new Stone Bank T-shirts and all the really cool people have them. You are SO cool you need one, too. These are 100% cotton T’s and the colors are really great.

Buy a Stone Bank T-shirt

Linda Heidbreder loves her T-shirt and wears it on “casual Friday” to work.

You don’t have to wear your heart on your sleeve, but you can show your support of the Stone Bank restoration by wearing one of our T-shirts. They really look great with jeans.

Buy a Stone Bank T-shirt

The Stone Bank T’s were made in Bottineau by Echoe Shriver. Get yours today!

You can order your T-shirt online or stop by 4J’s Sporting Goods on Main Street in Bottineau. Echoe Shriver has the T’s on hand and can even make one to order in minutes.

Of the $15 for the shirt, $10 goes to Stone Bank restoration work. We have T-shirts from petite to 3xl for women and from medium to 3xl for men.

It’s a little thing, but your support means a lot to the project. Our goal is to raise the back of the building this fall and get the roof on. That takes money. Every donation moves us closer to that goal. Can you help?

Send an order by email, by mail or gives us a call. Our contact information is in the right column of this page. You can also use our handy PayPal site to order your T-shirt. If you don’t like wearing a T-shirt, why not dedicate a stone to a loved one? All the details are on our website.

Thanks for your support!

(Subliminal message … Get the T!)

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.

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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


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!

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