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


December 20, 2012

112 and Counting!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 11:40 pm by stonebankblog

December 21, 1900

The local paper touted the good news. Bottineau County Bank was ready for business.

The local paper touted the good news. Bottineau County Bank was ready for business.

Today is a big deal for the Stone Bank family, because it is the 112th anniversary of when Bottineau County Bank’s staff moved from their temporary quarters into the charming, stone building that we now call the Stone Bank.

More amazing, because construction on the stone building had taken fewer than six months.  Bottineau Courant  Editor Scott Wagar searched old newspapers and found the details.

And 100 years from now, or next year, we can celebrate the anniversary of when work continued to dismantle a stone wall to make way for a new foundation. Pictures and details coming soon. Or scroll down to the next post and learn more about the status of our project.

It’s cooooooooooooooold in North Dakota, so wish our stone mason and his crew well as they work on the Stone Bank over the next couple of weeks.  We still need to raise about $15,000 to dig the foundation in the spring and raise the back of the building again. We saved the stone, and the Stone Bank will look the same, but the nagging structural flaw will be fixed.

We are a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit, so if you are looking for a great, historic project for an end-of-year charitable contribution — we would be most grateful.

Here’s another little item from the Bottineau newspaper in 1900.

Item from 1900 newspaper

Not much has changed in 112 years. Shops on Bottineau’s Main Street in 2012 still have a great gift selection.

Best wishes for a safe and festive holiday season from your friends at the Stone Bank! And a special virtual hug to all the generous folks who share the dream of seeing the Stone Bank reborn and put back to use!

March 8, 2012

Just Down the Block

Posted in Bottineau, Friends of Stone Bank, History, Main Street, Photos tagged , , , , at 12:53 am by stonebankblog

Here’s a picture of what is now the Golden Rule clothing store in Bottineau, referred to in a recent post.   It’s another marvelous settlement-era building on Main Street.

If you were to walk in front of the Golden Rule and continue down the street (walking off the left side of this picture), you will find the Stone Bank at the end of the block.

Clothing store and Masonic Temple in Bottineau, ND

Bottineau's Main Street clothier is now "The Golden Rule."

In the past year, the owners of the Golden Rule have done some remodeling and renovation of the building. And reports are that the Masonic Temple on the third floor is pretty amazing.

Bravo! to the effort to keep another great old building going strong on Main Street.

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 21, 2011

Loosen up and move

Posted in Dismantling the back, Pictures, Stone Work tagged , , , , at 11:39 pm by stonebankblog

Stone, that is. Brandon Person was at it again Wednesday — removing stone from the Stone Bank. He removed two courses (rows) of stones from the building’s south facade.

Stone Bank restoration underway in Bottineau, ND

Talk about a calorie burn! Brandon Person first used a crowbar to loosen the stones and then he lifted or rolled them onto the scaffold.

Two rows of stones removed from the south facade of the Stone Bank in Bottineau

From the scaffold, each course of stones will be stacked on a pallet and lowered to the ground and labled so they can be reused in the rebuilding process.

So far, the weather has been playing nice with us. It has been dry and quite mild for mid-December.

Watch this space for daily updates as the back of the bank is dismantled.

p.s. Speaking of calories — check out the assortment of bismarcks at the Family Bakery on Bottineau’s Main Street.

Lots of temptation at the Family Bakery in Bottineau, ND

Wow. Lots of choices if you have a hankering for a bismarck in Bottineau.

December 20, 2011

Calorie burning with Brandon

Posted in Dismantling the back, Stone Work, Updates tagged , , , , at 8:30 pm by stonebankblog

Brandon Person — a member of the stone mason’s crew — drew the short straw on Dec. 20 and had to separate the good stone from the lime, mortar, wood and other chaff that has piled up behind the Stone Bank.

He lugged, rolled and stacked the stones. He sorted and stacked the wood.

This guy deserves a jelly doughnut — or two.

With the refuse pile out of the way, work can continue on dismantling the back of the building.

Dismantling work at the Stone Bank-Bottineau

Work on the Stone Bank has created a debris field, which needed to be cleared to allow more work on the back wall. The large stones in the foreground will be reused.

Demolition of the back wall of the Stone Bank-Bottineau

Brandon Person sorted the reusable stones from those being recycled and separated the debris field into piles. He Frisbeed a reject to the right pile.

Stones that are too heavy to lift, get rolled into place.

Working alone, Brandon Person, rolled a large stone onto a pallet. These rocks are being saved for reuse. Asked how much the stone weighed, Brandon said: "A lot."

Stone from the Stone Bank will be repurposed.

Brandon held up a stone that could find new life on a book shelf. Stone mason Joe Whetter is going to turn some leftover stones into bookends this winter. Much of the stone will be reused, and the riprap (inside the walls) is being donated to the Bottineau County Road Department. It will be reused on road projects.

December 19, 2011

Stone Mason at Work

Posted in Stone Work -- video tagged , , , , , at 6:00 pm by stonebankblog

When your Stone Bank blogger last talked with our stone mason, Joe Whetter, he said the work that he is eager to do is to put the Stone Bank back together next year. Right now, however, he is still dismantling the stone facade on the back 20 feet of the building.

This video shows the heavy lifting involved. Each facestone is loaded onto a pallet with the other stones in its “course” (row).

The Stone Bank’s walls are about 2 feet thick, and some of the stones span from the outside wall to the inside; they are HEAVY.
Work will continue the week of Dec. 19. So far, the weather is cooperating. (Except for the fake snow on your screen.)

Let’s hear it for Joe and his crew. If you have questions, post them here, and I will get you the answers, if possible.

December 11, 2011

What’s Going on Here?

Posted in Dismantling the back, Videos tagged , , , , at 12:22 pm by stonebankblog

Link to video of the demolish of the Stone Bank back wall

VIDEO: It really is addition by subtraction. The Stone Bank's back wall is coming down so we can get at the foundation and fix it. It's not pretty -- but it must be done.

December 10, 2011

Stone Bank Update

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:46 pm by stonebankblog

Pictures! Thanks to Scott Wagar for clambering atop a neighboring roof to get a look from the topside at the Stone Bank work.

What’s going on here?

This picture shows that there are only three, maybe four, roof beams to remove on the “bad” old part of the roof. The work ends where you see the lip of the new “good” roof membrane.

Roofing, Stone Bank, restoration, history, preservation

Here's an overview of the partial dismantling project of the Stone Bank-Bottineau. The dark (asphalt) section of the roof will be removed next week. The many layers of old roofing are heavy and really stuck on the beams.

As we reported in yesterday’s post, the Stone Bank proved that it really was built to last. These photos give a great look at how thick the walls are. Stone — layers, leveled and sturdy.

Stone Bank, restoration, history, Bottineau, North Dakota

Looking down to the part of the Stone Bank being dismantled. The three roof beams that finally came down are leaning inside now. At top left in this picture, is the ridge where the new roof membrane ends.

So, stone by stone and beam by beam the “bad” roof is coming off the back 20 feet of the building.

And once the beams are down, the work taking down 20 feet of the south wall can continue.

Wish us good luck and good weather!

December 9, 2011

5 below?

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 8:21 am by stonebankblog

No. No. No. We can do better than that.At this hour it is 7 below! But we will press on.

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