Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Appreciating the architecture of historic downtown Winona September 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 2:46 PM
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IT’S BAD ENOUGH when a community experiences a devastating fire in its historic downtown. But then again, less than a year later.

Those were my thoughts, as I’m sure that of many others, upon learning the Mississippi River town of Winona lost a 1912 former YMCA building, now housing KidSport Gymnastics, to a Thursday morning fire.

I believe I'm correct in stating the site of last year's fire was in the building to the right of Blooming Grounds Coffee House on the corner.

Last September’s fire occurred to the right of the corner building housing Blooming Grounds Coffee House. The coffee house reopened this summer.

A year ago, on September 13, fire destroyed the downtown Islamic Center and another building and damaged several other historic buildings.

A portion of downtown Winona with the General Store anchoring a corner.

A portion of downtown Winona with the General Store anchoring a corner.

Just last week my husband I were in Winona, staying there upon our return home from a brief vacation to Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. We parked our van downtown Wednesday evening and started walking, pausing often to study the beautiful, historic architecture which graces this community. As you would expect, I snapped photos, but, unfortunately, not one of KidSport.

Heart's Desire Gift Shop is housed in this mammoth building.

Heart’s Desire Gift Shop is housed in this mammoth building. Take note of the fabulous fourth floor balconies.

Eleven entire downtown blocks are on the National Register of Historic Districts. According to visitwinona.com:

The Winona Downtown Commercial Historic District contains over one hundred sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This area represents Minnesota’s largest collection of Victorian commercial architecture on the Mississippi. Most of the buildings are Italianate or Queen Anne in style and date from between the years 1857 and 1916.

Crank your head up and notice the architectural details.

Crank your head up and notice the architectural details.

If you appreciate architecture and the history of a river town, I’d highly recommend a visit to Winona. Late autumn with tree-covered bluffs, and not buildings, ablaze would be the perfect time to tour.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Everywhere you look, over-sized building and interesting architecture.

Everywhere you look, over-sized buildings and interesting architecture.

We're talking old and historic in Winona.

We’re talking old and historic in Winona.

The Garden Chinese Restaurant occupies an historic downtown space.

The Garden Chinese Restaurant occupies an historic downtown space. It would be great to see the store fronts returned to the original architecture.

The impressive Merchants National Bank.

The impressive Merchants National Bank designed in the Prairie School architectural style by architects George Grant Elmslie and William Gray Purcell and built in 1912. It looks similar in style to National Farmers’ Bank in Owatonna.

More downtown buildings.

More downtown buildings.

The Legendary Tavern fills a space in this stunning corner building.

The Legendary Tavern fills a space in this stunning corner building.

This building seems out of place among all of the historic structures.

This storefront appears out of place among all of the historic structures. Is a gem hidden behind this updated front?

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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11 Responses to “Appreciating the architecture of historic downtown Winona”

  1. Beautiful Captures 🙂 Happy Weekend!

  2. Beautiful old buildings. Yes I’d say there is a hidden gem hiding behind the ugly store front. The top of the building has some beautiful details.

  3. Jackie Says:

    It’s a very beautiful city, with a lot to see! Love all these old buildings!

  4. Thread crazy Says:

    Yes I’d say there’s some old architectural details begging to shine…love these old beautiful structures.

  5. hotlyspiced Says:

    I love these old buildings. There really is a lot of beautiful architecture in your town xx


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