Historic downtown: Downtown Willmar has variety of older buildings
Although first-floor facades of many buildings in downtown Willmar have changed over the years, some of the original second-floor features can still be seen by placing your hand horizontally at your nose and looking up, says Mona Nelson, director...
Although first-floor facades of many buildings in downtown Willmar have changed over the years, some of the original second-floor features can still be seen by placing your hand horizontally at your nose and looking up, says Mona Nelson, director of the Kandiyohi County Historical Society.
"We have a series of buildings from the '20s and '30s that are very nice, pretty much intact,'' she said.
"I always call the City Auditorium -- the War Memorial Auditorium -- one of Willmar's quiet treasures. It's a beautiful historic building on the National Register of Historic Places, and thank goodness in recent years there have been historical tours of the building for school groups,'' she said.
"But we have other beautiful buildings downtown and around Willmar,'' she said.
One of them is the Tallman/Hedin Building, constructed by businessman David Tallman in 1913 of gold-and-tan-colored glazed brick at the southeast corner of Fifth Street and Litchfield Avenue Southwest. The building was bought in 1932 by dentist O.E. Hedin, who built the second story in 1941.
The congregations and members of three downtown churches continue to use their older structures.
The oldest is St. Luke's Episcopal Church, located at 422 Sixth St. S.W. The church was constructed in 1872 and enlarged in 1893, according to historical society records. Described as an early Gothic revival structure, St. Luke's is one of the earliest town site churches standing in west central Minnesota.
The Unitarian Church was originally constructed in 1910 as the Church of Christ Scientist and is located at the corner of Fifth Street and Trott Avenue Southwest. The church was designed by Norwegian immigrant John Skoolheim, who also built the Sperry House.
The present Bethel Lutheran Church was built in 1927 at the corner of Fourth Street and Becker Avenue Southwest. Additions were built in 1956 and 1988.
Even the Kandiyohi County Courthouse, built in 1966, is of interest. "Some architects have called it an ugly building, but it's a good example of 1960s architecture,'' said Nelson.
While the original uses continue in some buildings, the uses in other buildings have changed.
For example, The House of Jacobs was originally home to Osmundson Auto Barn and Garage. The L-shaped building has fronts on both Fifth Street and Litchfield Avenue. The Fifth Street portion was built in 1907 and the Litchfield Avenue portion was built in 1914.
The International Order of Odd Fellows building was constructed in 1891 at the corner of Litchfield Avenue and Fifth Street and is one of the most intact and ornate pre-1900 commercial buildings in Willmar. Among its former occupants are the Minneapolis Cash Grain store, Red Owl Grocery and Sherwin-Williams. Located there today are a Somali general store and the Town Talk Café.
The Carlson Block, now called the Canard Building, was constructed in 1909 at 200 Fourth St. S.W. and was the site of Carlson and Frost Drug Store for many years. Thompson's Ladies Wear and several offices are located there now.
The Willmar Building, originally called the Bank of Willmar, was constructed in 1901 at the corner of Fourth Street and Benson Avenue Southwest. A long-time barbershop is located in the basement. The upper floor houses Hulstrand Law Office and other businesses.