EARLY ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON in the dead of a Minnesota winter, downtown Montgomery, except for vehicles clustered around Hilltop Hall for a theatrical performance and around locals bars, is mostly quiet.
The occasional pick-up truck cruises First Street, the main north-south route through the heart of this Le Sueur County farming community of nearly 3,000 noted for its strong Czech heritage.
Although this self-proclaimed “Kolacky Capital of the World” lies only about 25 miles northwest of my Faribault home, I’ve never really explored the town except to attend three plays at Hilltop Hall and to write a magazine feature story about Franke’s Bakery. The 99-year-old bakery specializes in kolacky, a folded Czech pastry filled with poppy seeds or fruit.
On this Sunday afternoon the bakery is closed. And so are most other businesses. Without distracting vehicles, I can fully appreciate the historic architectural qualities of this downtown. From the aged brick buildings to the vintage signage to the woodframe storefronts that always remind me of something out of a Western, I am smitten with these buildings, this business district.
I must, I tell myself, return to Montgomery when these businesses are open. I can only imagine what discoveries await me.
TOMORROW, IN THIS FIVE-PART SERIES from Montgomery, I take you to Hilltop Hall, which I’ve visited thrice. After that, we’ll go inside Franke’s Bakery, with photos from my 2010 visit there; I don’t expect much has changed. Next, I’ll show you how this community honors its veterans in a unique way. And then, to end my five-part series on Montgomery, I’ll show you several bonus photos from the town.
© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling