Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Up on the rooftop…in Fergus Falls May 22, 2013

I AM CONTINUALLY AMAZED by the access I am granted to interesting places because of my DSLR Canon camera, innate curiosity and friendliness.

A street level view of Victor Lundeen Company, left, and the Fergus Theatre on the right.

A street level view of Victor Lundeen Company, left, and A Center for the Arts in Fergus Falls on the right.

Most recently I was invited onto the rooftop of Victor Lundeen Company and A Center for the Arts in Fergus Falls for a bird’s eye view of historic downtown Fergus Falls in west central Minnesota.

Can you believe I hesitated? I am afraid of heights and wasn’t sure I could handle being several stories above street level, separated from the roof’s edge by a facade or nothing at all.

Atop the roof and looking toward the door into the Lundeen Company.

Atop the roof and looking toward the door into the Lundeen Company.

So I leveled with Paul Lundeen before exiting a door onto the roof of his business. If I couldn’t tolerate the height, I’d turn around.

Tour guide Paul Lundeen inside his print shop.

Tour guide Paul Lundeen inside his print shop.

As we moved toward the front of the building, Paul advised me to watch the guide wires, not wanting me to trip and plummet over the edge onto the brick sidewalk below.

On the left, a low wall separates the printing business rooftop from the theatre roof.

On the left, a low wall separates the printing business rooftop, right, from the arts center roof.

Stepping over the rooftop boundary between his printing company and the next-door arts center, my worries eased. A portion of the old theatre facade rose high enough for me to feel comfortable leaning against it and angling my camera down toward the buildings and street below.

Positioned safely behind a high part in the theatre facade, forefront, I shot sections of the business district.

Positioned safely behind the theatre facade, forefront, I shot sections of the business district.

The rooftop is a perfect place to watch parades, Lundeen said.

Looking the other direction into Fergus Falls' historic downtown.

Looking the other direction into Fergus Falls’ historic downtown.

A slightly different view from the roof.

A slightly different view from the roof.

And it would have been better for photos had I been willing to move away from the theatre facade. But I just could not push myself that far. I managed several shots before retreating.

The block of downtown Fergus Falls in which Victor Lundeen Company and Fergus Theatre are located.

The block of downtown Fergus Falls in which Victor Lundeen Company and the arts center are located.

Lundeen offered the rooftop access after a tour of his print shop, an invitation extended when my husband and I walked into his bookstore/gift/office supply/commercial printing business on a recent Thursday evening. We were staying overnight in Fergus Falls en route to Fargo.

As is usual with me, my camera was slung around my neck, my notebook tucked inside my purse. Paul greeted us and we started chatting and one thing led to another, all the way up to the rooftop.

CHECK BACK FOR MORE posts from Fergus Falls, including a tour of Paul’s three-generation family print shop, images of downtown buildings and lots more. This community should own the motto: “Friendly Fergus Falls.”

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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16 Responses to “Up on the rooftop…in Fergus Falls”

  1. Cool Captures – loving the last pic! I find it interesting how curious people can be when you have a camera around your neck or in your hands. Great Way to break the ice and meet new people at times too! Happy Hump Day:)

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      That camera around the neck can be both good and bad. The “bad” is when I want to photograph unnoticed, virtually impossible with a “big camera.” In situations like that, I’ll carry the camera to make it less noticeable.

      Mostly, though, the camera has been a wonderful tool for introducing me to great folks like Paul.

      • I have not had to many bad experiences and really avoid big groups of people, especially children. I hear you because my DSLR is about 8 to 12 pounds and then really stick when I put the bigger lens on. I will try and tuck it under my arm if necessary or just put it away. One thing I have encountered with animals is even with the sounds off on my camera it still makes a click and the animals look up at times – ha!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Given my past experience as a photojournalist, I’m pretty confident wherever I carry my camera. I just don’t want people to notice it. If I’m patient, they forget I’m there. Sometimes. I don’t shoot (we’re talking photos here, people) a lot of animals, mostly because I don’t own a telephoto lens.

  2. He needs some ducks on that roof!
    Love shots from a rooftop – anywhere. But I, too, like a good solid barrier that prevents me from plummeting to my own demise.

  3. Laurie Says:

    Audrey – always enjoy reading your posts! You are invited to check out the rooftop here — thanks for directing me to another blogger — always interesting! Take care and stop by sometime – lots of photo ops here!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Laurie. I well remember the many photo ops from my previous visit to your Hanley Falls museum.

  4. Jackie Says:

    I love the Bird’s eye shots of the downtown business’s, very cool. I’m a little too shy, “introverted” to engage with store owners like you do, I admire your ability to do that, you get some unique shots that’s for sure. I’ll admit,
    I’m a little jealous :/ I’ve never been to Fegus falls…maybe someday the old buildings are alluring 🙂 I’m eager to see more of this town.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      As a former news reporter, I guess I’m pretty used to seeking out info and photos. Just gets in your blood.

      Fergus Falls is one of my new favorite Minnesota cities, now that I’ve had time to explore it.

  5. hotlyspiced Says:

    It’s amazing how open people can be if you show them a little kindness – you are very good at it xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Charlie. I’m genuinely interested and I’m sure that goes a long ways in opening doors for me.

  6. I’ve been to Fergus twice and I enjoyed it. Colin has and aunt and uncle in Underwood, so we were there for family weddings. I like it up there.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Fergus Falls is just one of those communities that I find endearing, especially with the historic buildings downtown.


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