At the office at the moment, alone again, naturally. Trying to come up with the second half of the column so tonight I can breeze through it and get back to the TV show I wish to finish. At least it’ll be toasty by the tube: the new fireplace was installed, and it’s nice. What I don’t like is the remote.

It’s okay. It’s actually top of the line, I gather, except it has an LCD display, which is archaic. It has four buttons. One turns it off and on. The middle two adjust something up or down - the height of the flame, the speed of the fan. The bottom button switches between modes - the aforementioned height and speed, a mode for the lights, which I do not have, and an option to keep the pilot light on or off. An option I did not know I needed. Because the bottom button is multi-mode, this means you will hit the wrong thing and navigate between functions, and encounter a cryptic abbreviation for the pilot light. The installer showed me the options, and then I made him wait while I went through all possible button-mashing until I had it.

He left, and I was showing my wife how to use it, and turned it off. It would not turn on again. I tried every combination. It would not turn on. Until it did. Turns out there’s a lag between turning it on, and the flame erupting from the simulated logs. I’ll have to get used to that. Thing is, when it doesn’t come on right away, you wonder if you’re in the right mode, and so you push something else. Oh: there’s another mode for the temperature of the room, and the buttons control three different states in the little thermometer icon, and also control the raising or lowering of the temperature.

Great. I feel so powerful and rich, having such granular control over an element.

But all I want to do is turn it on and off.

Oh hey! Column! I can get a column out of this. Well, huzzah for complexity, then.



And now, a question, the same one I asked last week.

  How do we get from here . . .
  To here . . .
  Via this?

Well, that’s a very good question. It begins with the scanning of an old theater playbill. The ads are all about where you should eat after the show, which suggests few people ate before the show. This means you could leave the Lyceum and head over to a place that still put on the spread at 10:30? Of course! They didn’t roll the sidewalks up at sundown, you know.


The Curtis was the big hotel on the edge of downtown.



A half-century indeed, although the early version was small. The gigantic new wings were one of the duller things ever built downtown, but the place had a good reputation. It also had an arch-rival:

The Leamington had recently undergone a huge renovation, and if you’re a long-time patron of this site or someone who’s poked around in the distant corners of the site, you may have come across the extensive and all-color Leamington brochure site, which has some pictures of these very places.

On the other side of downtown stood the Dyckman. Like the others, it was built in the early 20th century, and required post-war overhauls to keep it up to date and prevent it from sliding into second-tier status. The Dyckman was known for . . .


You can find more on the hotel here. I found the menu at the Hennepin County Library history site.

Let’s take a break from the dining options to consider the banking ad: it’s advising women to get their own checking account. No charge for deposits! Well gosh thanks on that one I guess

The Weatherball was a beloved landmark for decades. It survived the fire of the bank, but was heavily damaged.

The Weatherball was donated to the Minnesota State Fair with the intention of it being restored and placed on the fairgrounds. Instead, it languished in storage for 17 years until it met its fate at the scrap yard.

For many years a smaller-scale replica stood in the Wells Fargo Museum on the second floor of the building that replaced the old bank, but it closed during COVID and now it’s gone, again.

Anyway, back to menus. One of the finer hotels, the first one to bear the name that would turn into a worldwide chain:

Norse Room, Viking Room - that was us. Still is, but less so. World’s Longest Menu, you say?

That it was.

  Finally, Schieks. It was here that I despaired of finding anything to link to something that wasn’t about 1956 restaurants, until I spied the name on the sign.

"Benjamin Berger, President."

Ah hah. Well, who was he?

Berger was born in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Congress Poland and moved to the United States at age 16 in 1913 at age 16 settling in Fargo, North Dakota. He became a U.S. citizen while serving in World War I.

In 1921, he purchased his first movie house in Grand Forks, North Dakota which evolved into a chain of 19 theaters. In 1944, he bought Schiek's Cafe, a popular local nightclub.

In 1947, he along with Morris Chalfen bought the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League. They relocated and renamed the team the Minneapolis Lakers.

That’s why Los Angeles has a basketball team with a name that doesn’t seem to fit LA at all. But then I saw he was responsible for the dandelion fountain in Loring Park, a landmark for decades.

Google picture above. More:

Berger Fountain is named after Ben Berger, the former parks commissioner who donated the fountain to the city in 1975. It was a copy of the El Alamein Memorial Fountain Berger saw on a trip to Sydney, Australia. Berger funded the Minneapolis fountain with profits made from screening "The Exorcist" at his chain of movie theaters, according to parks historian David Smith.

Schieks closed in 1971, after a long, long run. It was a Spaghetti Factory for a while, then reopened as Schieks’ in 1979. It became a topless bar in 1988.

The doors are shuttered today, but the last time I checked, the fountain was running.










Thirty-two hundred souls. The Wikipedia entry takes a peculiar turn:

Buffalo was platted in 1841, and named after Buffalo, New York, the native home of a first settler. A post office called Buffalo has been in operation since 1846.

On October 7, 2013, Mayor Andrew Mead proclaimed October 23 to be "Weird Al" Yankovic day to honor his childhood hero. Weird Al was presented the key to the city in April of that year. Mead resigned later in the same meeting.

When a facade pleads the 5th:

Once it must have had a great script sign, backlit, glowing at night.

The Buckaroo Revival awning is regrettable, but if I had to change one thing, I’d put the balconies back on the second floor. Watch out! That first step’s a doozy!


The angled corner always gives away the original function. Then again, the name block on the cornice might be a subtle clue as well. If only we knew for sure!


This looks painful.

You don’t to give it paint, you want to give it some lotion.

The old building can be heard, faintly, screaming beneath the mask.


Yes, the old building. I’d wager a hundred bucks that’s a facade job.

You start at the top and work down and think it’s almost completely original and untouched . . .

Dang, so close. Post-war stone.

I cannot explain the old cornice, on this building, at this height.

An old version of the Google Street view shows an old building in remarkable disrepair:

Remarkable relic for something downtown, on a prime location.

Gone now, but its spirit still haunts the site.

Standard-issue mid-century gummint block:

What’s that by the flagpole?

“Dedicated to the freedoms and principles of the country,” I think.

That's nice. Hope they meant it.


“Folks ‘round these parts still talk about the explosion at the talcum powder factory”

The temptation to peel it off must strike everyone from time to time:


Looks to be original from the building’s early days. Did it slumber under a metal facade for years?

You know what this is, even if the windows don’t give you the usual clue.

I think that’s because the hotel didn’t have individual bathrooms. They were down the hall.

The twins were always a sight to see at the family gatherings, one in her faux-Western cowboy gear, the other in her button-down business suit.

Every small town downtown in America.

IOOF! Looks as if they just ordered half a page in the “things to put on the top part of your building” catalogue.


And every small town had one of these: the shiny ground-floor rehab around the middle portion of the century, from 30 - 60 or so.


In the 1896 assessors book there are businessmen named Weatherby and Gleason, but each had other partners. Looks like they got together for this one, though.

Inexplicable OUMB.

Where did those columns come from?

What is the meaning of this?






That'll do! Motels await.




blog comments powered by Disqus