July 11, 2012

Coghlan Castle — The Next Step

Posted in Endangered buildings, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Photos, Updates tagged , , , at 12:51 pm by stonebankblog

$5 million! That’s how much it would take to completely repair and restore the Coghlan Castle near St. John, N.D.

Not going to happen, says Becky Leonard, the spark plug behind saving this striking and rare stone building.

Becky and other Coghlan Castle fans have worked hard to stabilize the building and to make critical repairs to keep it standing. More stone will be reattached to the facade — but, for now, that’s about where the project will stand.

This year’s goal is to install an interpretive sign near the castle, so interested passersby can stop, take a look and go away knowing “what the heck that building is.”

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I have misplaced my notes from my lunch with Becky, who has been involved in historic preservation for years. But she is to be complimented for pushing hard to save this building.

She said the the architect hopes to some day finish one room in the castle, so people can get inside and see it. Right now, the stone restoration work will continue and the interpretive sign will likely be placed this summer.

The truth is that we can’t always bring a building all the way back — but this is a great intermediary stop. Save the structure and keep dreaming.

I often think of the pioneers and dreamers who built these fantastic stone buildings for us to enjoy more than 100 years later. Dream on.

If I ever win the lottery — I’m sending a big, fat donation to the Coghlan Castle restoration.

Here’s a link to a National Park Service site about the Coghlan Castle.

And, here’s a link to an earlier Stone Bank Blog post that shows how we are repairing the Stone Bank’s walls in much the same way as employed at the Coghlan Castle.

What do you think? We’re always interested to hear from readers.

Thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog.

June 28, 2012

Stone Bank Wins Preservation ND Grant

Posted in Bottineau, Dismantling the back, Photos, Renovation, Updates tagged , , at 12:30 pm by stonebankblog

Preservation ND logo

Great news!

The Stone Bank has received a $5,000 grant from Preservation North Dakota in its Grassroots Grant Program. The grant is designated to help with the continued restoration of the Stone Bank in Bottineau, ND.

Here’s a description of Preservation ND from the group’s website:

Incorporated in 1991, Preservation North Dakota operated as an all-volunteer organization for several years, hosting conferences, publishing newsletters, and laying the groundwork for a larger preservation movement. That movement was finally engaged when, by partnering with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and North Dakota’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), PND launched the Prairie Churches of North Dakota project.

The Stone Bank family is deeply grateful and excited to get this economic boost for the Stone Bank restoration. Add this to the $20,000 grant from the Historical Society and we are nearly halfway to our fundraising goal of $65,000 for 2012.

Stone Bank Bottineau, ND

This picture shows the back of the Stone Bank, which was dismantled in late 2011 and early 2012. Our goal is to put it back together  again in 2012.

We are gearing up to continue work on the bank building in the next few weeks.

Here’s the plan:

* Complete the dismantling work — on the stone wall in the left of the photo and the crumbling foundation on the dismantled section.

* Excavate the crawl space and dig new footings.

* Build new foundation and walls of concrete block.

* Add floor and roof and extend new roofing material over the rebuilt section of the building.

Bingo. We can get this done for just over $60K. Then we will have a building that is structurally sound and weather-tight.

In 2013, our plan is to put the stone facade back on the building and to begin restoring the interior.

How can you help? The Preservation ND grant requires a 1:1 local match. That means, we must raise $5K in local monies to match this grant.  There is a PayPal link on this page, or you can send a check to the Stone Bank at 524 Main Street, Bottineau, ND 58318.

Our loyal StoneBankBlog reader, Mark Johnson, of Fargo, suggested we look into a Preservation ND grant — and he was so right. give Mark a high-five when you see him.

More information about Preservation North Dakota and its projects are on the group’s website.

As always, thanks for reading the Stone Bank blog!

June 5, 2012

A Stone Bank Inspiration

Posted in Photos, Renovation tagged , , , , at 6:53 pm by stonebankblog

As a champion of all things stone, the Stone Bank blog has to tip its hat to a successful restoration project in Granville, N.D.

Granville is a small town about 20 miles from Minot in north-central North Dakota. This grand old stone bank building, completed in 1903, has been recently and lovingly restored. Beyond the restoration, an addition has increased the size and flexibility of the space.

Adaptive re-use, anyone?

The Granville building is among dozens of great old bank buildings that dot the ND landscape — including our own Stone Bank. And the Granville project demonstrates how durable and adaptable these great old buildings are. The Granville bank has something else in common with the Stone Bank — it became insolvent in 1923.

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Here’s a link to a story in the Minot Daily News that describes  the Granville Bank restoration and how the building is now being reused.

From the Stone Bank crew — BRAVO!

What do you think of this success story? Leave us a comment, because we love hearing from you.

And remember, our project is chugging along, but we need to raise matching funds for the $20,000 grant we recently received from the Historical Society of North Dakota. It’s easy to send us a donation. Think of Granville’s success and click the PayPal link in the right-hand column. We need your support right now! And as always, thanks for reading the Stone Bank Blog!

March 28, 2012

Still Standing

Posted in Dismantling the back, Photos, Renovation, Stone Work, Updates tagged , , , at 11:01 pm by stonebankblog

… but not for long.

The Stone Bank’s north wall was spared when the back of the bank was dismantled. But its days are numbered.

Last week, our architect and stone mason said it’s just too damaged to repair — and it would get in the way of repairing the foundation. So, it will be going away — soon.

Exposed stone wall at rear of Stone Bank in Bottineau, ND

This stone wall will be taken down at the Stone Bank in Bottineau, ND.

Below is a closeup of the wall that shows how the mortar is letting go, and some of the soot on the stones from some long-ago fire.

Detail of north stone wall in  the Stone Bank

Some stones have voluntarily left the wall. The rest will be removed and saved for possible re-use.

It is  interesting to see how the builders stacked the stones and wedged them together for a good fit. Because this was an inside wall, it doesn’t have the prettiest stones. Even so, it will be sad to see it go.

On the other hand it’s good to see some things go. For example, Touchstones’ 2012 grant request to the State Historical Society left home today. Whew. It is due Friday, and we should hear if we are “chosen” in mid-May. Take a moment and put out some good vibes for the grant. Successful fundraising is critical to begin this year’s work — starting with the north stone wall.

March 26, 2012

Gorgeous in 1901 — Still Gorgeous

Posted in Bottineau, History, Main Street, Photos, Updates tagged , , , at 1:47 pm by stonebankblog

Here’s a photo of the Stone Bank when it was shiny and new!

OK. We know that this stone doesn’t shine. But we are aglow with pride that we got a digital scan of this photo. It’s the best picture of the Stone Bank that has surfaced, so far.

This picture is from “Bottineau Illustrated,” which was published in 1901, and your Stone Bank blogger trekked to the State Archives in Bismarck, where they have a “rare” copy of the book. This photo is actually from an ad in the promotional booklet.

We only had a photocopy of this image before, and the scan has much better detail. It also shows — what we suspected — that the 20-foot rear section (recently dismantled) was an addition. Our stone mason thinks it was added in the 1930s … and he is getting ready to put it back together again.  It just needs a nip and tuck (and some heavy lifting)  to look good as new.

The Stone Bank was built as Bottineau County Bank

The Stone Bank in 1901. It's a swell building, isn't it? Such good bone structure!

Also at the Archives, there is a box of records from the bank’s closure in 1923. The files holds details how the receiver tried to claw back money “lost” in the bank’s financial collapse. More posts on that are coming soon.

In the meantime, let us bask in finding a great picture of Bottineau County’s FIRST bank and send good vibes to the effort to restore the building and find an adaptive re-use for it.

Did you like this post? Leave us a comment or a “like,” because it makes our day.

For more details on the Stone Bank Project, check out our website at www.StoneBank.org.

March 6, 2012

Why Are You Doing This?

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Life, Main Street, Photos, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 2:12 pm by stonebankblog

That’s the question the Stone Bank family has been asked again … and again.

Why would seemingly sane people take on a gargantuan task — costly — time-consuming — backbreaking — mind-bending? Why? Indeed.

Here’s your Stone Bank Blogger’s reason: When I was a teenager, my family lived a block from the old Bottineau County Courthouse — a marvelous 1900 structure. Three stories, a tower, wonderful windows. Inside were oak floors, a great staircase and satiny oak woodwork. It was a striking and memorable building.

Then in the 1970s the push was made to replace the building with something new. Something modern. I don’t know all the politics, because I was a mere wisp of a girl then. But in the end, the old building was demolished and a new, low,modern structure replaced it.

Worse yet, they started building the new courthouse behind the old one and then tore down the 1900 building. The result? The new courthouse is oddly situated on its lot. Too much front yard. An uninteresting, charmless, and bland building. Sure, many things inside the new courthouse are probably better than in the old building — but for sheer visual impact and a sense of place the new courthouse is about 100 steps back from its predecessor.

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The “loss” of the old courthouse has bothered me for years. We have lost other interesting structures in Bottineau, but this one was a biggie for me.

So wonder no more — this is the “why” of my work on the Stone Bank Project. (I have heard many of my school chums voice the same regret about the old courthouse.)

We were too young and too inexperienced to do much about it.

But that was then. This is now.

Our goal now is to give the Stone Bank a happier ending.

The Stone Bank — another charming, historic structure, really began to deteriorate over the past few years. And I asked everyone “what is happening here?” That question was mostly met with shrugs and the obligatory, “Gee, someone should do something.”

Yes. SOMEONE SHOULD. And sometimes that SOMEONE is ME or YOU.

How often do we have to mourn the loss of a town’s identity and its landmarks before we step up and say “I can help with that.”

So, in 2011, a handful of friends formed a nonprofit and began to work with the building’s owner to find a solution. In the end, we bought the building and worked like crazy to keep the city from condemning it and tearing it down. To its credit the city did relent and give our project a $20,000 loan to start the renovation project.

But we have a long way to go. The fight goes on. But will be worth the effort?


In the end, we will have a “fine, stone building” even better than the original that will stand another 100 or 200 years. It will stand shining on Main Street for the world to see that we care about our town’s history and its landmarks.

Stone Bank in Bottineau, ND

The Stone Bank Project will put this charmer back to use.

And we will know that we did what we could. Because we could. It was our turn. We’re grownups now.

Here’s a quote from the “When I Have Time” blog about this very topic.

… no one will be there to give you permission to act. To try. To succeed. And to fail. No one will take you by the hand and say, “Now it’s time. You’re ready.” No one will be so sure to say, “Don’t worry, you won’t fail.” No one will lay their hand on yours as you click that submit button, as you fill out that form, as you sign up for that chance, as you raise your hand.

Here’s a link to the blog, if you want to read the whole post: http://whenihavetime.com/2012/02/16/stop-sabotaging-your-own-success-a-manifesto/

Never forget that we are the world that we create. So get out there and make a difference. And if you want to share your talents with the Stone Bank Project — join us! Our email is touchstones.inc@gmail.com.

That’s my “why” — what is yours? Leave a comment!

December 8, 2011

Stone Bank — Take Down That Wall

Posted in Dismantling the back tagged , , , , , , , at 8:17 pm by stonebankblog

For those who said it would be “a cold day in Bottineau” before anything was done about the Stone Bank — you better put on your thermals, because something is happening.

This stuff had to come out of the Stone Bank before the wall can come down.

Interior walls, window trim, a dropped ceiling frame and all kinds of rubble have been removed from the Stone Bank in preparation for dismantling the back of the building.

During the past week, our contractor has been preparing the interior of the building for what comes next.

And that is?
— The roof over the back 20 feet of the structure will be removed.

— The back wall will be pulled down.

— The dismantling of a section of the side wall will continue.
(Not necessarily in that order.)

There is no master plan and untold variables are at play here. Our stone mason and general contractor have a plan and we will see how it all comes together. Or apart!

Any questions? Comment here and we will do our best to get the answers.

December 5, 2011

Inside the Stone Bank

Posted in Inside Stone Bank tagged , , , , , at 4:38 pm by stonebankblog

Progress. Progress. Progress. That’s the mode we’re in at the Stone Bank. While the roofers finish up on their work, our contractor Fred Kainz has been inside the bank changing the landscape a bit.

Here’s the interior of the Stone Bank’s back end. The building is being dismantled to about the dark line in the pink wallpaper, at left.

This section of the Stone Bank will disappear very soon. The wall constructed of 2x4s has been taken down.

But the 2×4 wall was NOT discarded, it was reused! Our contractor Fred used that wall to build the temporary wall that will close the shortened building this winter. Bravo! Why waste new materials on a temporary wall? The Stone Bank’s story isn’t only written in shades a brown, burgundy and gray — but it’s going a bit green around the edges!

Here are the components of the old wall being reused as the temporary wall. Note the line in the pink wallpaper near the window to get a sense of how much of the back part of the building is being dismantled.

As soon as Fred finishes this interior work, Joe, the stone mason can get back to removing the exterior walls. Then what will we discuss? The weather?

Thanks again to Scott Wagar for his help with photography.

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