This month we look at four towns, the Quad Cities of the Iron Range. Virginia was named after the state - many of the lumbermen who settled in the area were from Virginia, it seems. Almost nine thousand residents, down from 15K in 1960. It's the birthplace of Chris Pratt. whose father worked the mines until that business dwindled.

If you want to make a building interesting, tilt the windows! Makes it look romantic and . . . I don't know, Swiss? Something or other.

For extra fun, put a double-door on the second floor so people think there's a deck, and walk right out. But don't worry! You're in a comedy movie, and a truck full of hay is pulling out just as you fall.

As I have noted about this series of towns, they liked their bars. They need their bars. MAC'S looks featureless, but look at that door: curved black tile Could be the 30s or the 40s.

"Boss, people are saying they want a window, just in case something is going on outside. Like, a parade, because the pit's hiring again."


"Boss. C'mon."

"Okay. One. In the corner."

The air conditioning unit seems insufficient for the job.

There's a piece of stone over the door that says "BANK." No columns or stone ornaments, so people might have wondered if it was solvent.

A serious piece of rock with the word BANK would reassure them.

Was the door original, or was it what they thought the original doors looked like? The tile in the entryway is probably original; the black material. possibly not.

Don't know and it really doesn't matter.


The Power Plant! Now for seniors.

Seems small, but again, consider the amount of air conditioning it had to power.


If you were bothered by things unaligned, you would avert your gaze when you walked past:

THE DOOR. Please put the door IN THE MIDDLE OKAY

Never was a barber shop ever turned into a gas station:

If it was a gas station, what's missing?

Right: the scars left by the island. But you'll note that the concrete is lighter in front of the place, which indicates that they brought the tanks up and paved it over. They had to bring up the tanks; it was a new state law. The old tanks had to be replaced.

Not every old station could afford it. So they closed. But at least the old gas tanks, which hadn't hold fuel for 20 years, didn't poison the dirt.

An emblem of civic pride: the school! But . . .

This really is a travesty. I'm sure the old windows were drafty and cost too much to replace, but this turned an open, bright place into a bunker.


Finally: the Village Hall.



Flush times: it drips with Roman luxury. Wonder if everyone was okay with that. Wonder if they thought it was a proud thing to show the other towns how well they were doing.

Around the corner: more unfortunate bricking - doors and windows.

But not all the windows were covered up. I'll bet the ones that survived illuminated the offices of important officials, who did important things. Like approving building-permit requests to brick up the windows.

Take a tour, if you wish.