Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Poking around Montgomery, Minnesota April 9, 2013

A shot of Main Street Montgomery.

A shot of First Street in Montgomery’s downtown business district.

MONTGOMERY, IN MY OPINION, may be one of small town southern Minnesota’s best-kept secrets.

A wealth of historic buildings still stand in Montgomery, one reason I am particularly drawn to this community. Walk inside many businesses and you will find original tin ceilings and wood floors.

A wealth of historic buildings still stand in Montgomery, one reason I am particularly drawn to this community. Walk inside many businesses and you will find original tin ceilings and wood floors.

If you appreciate historic buildings, ethnic charm, friendly folks and one-of-a-kind home-grown businesses all packaged in a Main Street reminiscent of yesteryear, you’ll delight in Montgomery.

Dogs roaming and kids rollerblading along the sidewalks of Main Street.

Dogs roaming and kids rollerblading along the sidewalks of First Street.

On Saturday, my husband and I drove a half hour northwest of Faribault to check out this Czech community’s downtown. We meandered from thrift shop to bakery to thrift shop to drugstore and quilt shop, and even bopped into an old-fashioned barbershop before visiting the town’s newest corner shop, Rani’s, and then walking a block north to order pizza for a late lunch.

Biking in downtown Montgomery.

Biking in downtown Montgomery past the Palace Bar which advertises a Pork/Dumpling Dinner from 12 – 8 p.m. on the last Thursday of the month.

Afterward, we perused Big Honza’s Museum of Unnatural History, hit up another antique store and, finally, caught a Czech import shop on the way out of town.

The White Front Saloon, one of many bars we spotted.

The White Front Saloon, one of many bars we spotted.

But we didn’t hit a single of the half-dozen or so bars. Nor did we take in the 24th annual Miss Czech Slovak MN Pageant over at the American Legion, although several shopkeepers inquired whether we were in town just for that.

A Main Street mural

A downtown mural graces the side of the Bird’s Nest, a thrift store.

Nope, just two empty nesters poking around this self-proclaimed Kolacky Capital of the World.

Another shot of the Main Street business district.

Another shot of the downtown business district.

CHECK BACK for a series of posts featuring the places we visited in this Le Sueur County community of around 3,000. You can click here to read my post about Main Street Barber. Also check my March 4 – 8 archives for additional stories focusing on the artsy side of Montgomery.

For those not in the know, a kolacky is a Czech pastry. Montgomery celebrates Kolacky Days each July, this year the 26th through the 28th.

BONUS PHOTOS:

One of my favorite buildings and attached vintage signage. I need to return and explore this place.

One of my favorite buildings and attached vintage signage. I need to return and explore this place.

A block off the main drag, we spotted this tractor. "It's for sale," a man yelled from a window somewhere.

A block off the main drag, we spotted this tractor. “It’s for sale,” a man yelled from a window somewhere.

A parting shot of that historic Main Street.

A parting shot of that historic downtown.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

16 Responses to “Poking around Montgomery, Minnesota”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Love it!!! I so want to go with you on one of these adventures to old small towns!!! Please??? I will drive!!!! 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks, Beth Ann. Well, get ready to tour Montgomery, because I have a series planned featuring the shops/places Randy and I visited. I hope, via my posts, that I can encourage others to check out small towns like Montgomery. So many wonderful discoveries await us off the beaten path.

      • Beth Ann Says:

        You are so right!!! We get used to the hustle and bustle of what we know and what is easy to access sometimes when the charm of places like Montgomery go unnoticed. Looking forward to the rest of your posts!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        I’m excited to share my Montgomery discoveries. This really is a gem of a small town.

  2. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    I’ll take the Farmall. all bright IH red and all.

  3. WOW – this place does not look like it has changed much since the last time I was there back in the 90s! My first job was there at the Green Giant plant – did not even last a day in the cream corn division – between the safety video and at times the smell I had enough – ha! Happy Tuesday:)

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I really like that Montgomery retains its old charm. In all too many communities, historic buildings are town down in the name of progress. Not so here.

      I will be curious to hear your thoughts as I take you into the different shops and places we perused.

      As for your job, I expect that would not have been easy. And I expect, would hope, that conditions have changed since your hours at Green Giant.

      • I miss the bakeries – love those Czech pasteries:) I still think about the farm and the town I grew up in and if it has changed or still has the old town charm. Trust me the safety video did it for me – all that can go wrong with packaging cans of cream corn (pretty graphic at least for a 16 year old) – I could not leave fast enough! A majority of your posts bring back my Midwest memories and some of the things I still miss – the pasteries, the lakes, the sense of community, etc.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        I’ll take you inside Franke’s Bakery again as we just had to stop there. Talk about one busy place.

      • Take a CLOSE UP of the PASTERIES Please:)

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Oh, oh, I only shot one of my bismarck and it’s not the greatest. I’ll see what I can do for you.

  4. treadlemusic Says:

    And you included the quilt shop! Way to go!!! Love your guided tours so much;-D

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I thought of you when I was in that quilt shop, Doreen. Check back tomorrow to see photos from inside Quilter’s Dream. I promise, you’re going to love this shop. I did and I’m not even a quilter.


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