Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Part IV from Albert Lea: Snapshots around town October 30, 2015

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A street scene in downtown Albert Lea, Minnesota.

A street scene in downtown Albert Lea, Minnesota.

IN THE MANY COMMUNITIES I tour, I always seek the everyday scenes, the snapshot details that comprise a place. I may find the snapshot in an alley. Along a side street. In the heart of a downtown.

Alley-side bar art.

Alley-side bar art in downtown Albert Lea.

Wherever, I look, I see clues that reveal a town’s personality.

What a great name, Elbow Room.

What a great name, Elbow Room.

In business signs, I can spot humor and/or creativity.

I appreciate the simplicity

No flashy signage here, but someone’s business, someone’s dream.

In conditions of buildings, I can identify pride or lack thereof. Or perhaps it’s simply a lack of funds to upkeep a structure. Or the desire to keep things simple.

Downtown Albert Lea boasts a downtown Commercial Historic District with stunning architecture.

Downtown Albert Lea boasts a sprawling Commercial Historic District with lovely architecture.

One of the many stunning buildings in the historic downtown.

One of the many stunning buildings in the historic downtown.

Albert Lea provided plenty of snapshot details. I see a southeastern Minnesota community that appreciates its past through preservation of historic buildings. I see a town that’s working hard to save itself.

An inspiratinal message chalked onto steps leading to/from a downtown Albert Lea parking lot.

An inspirational message chalked onto steps leading to/from a downtown Albert Lea parking lot.

Community service messages and time and temperature flash across the board on an old grain elevator.

Community service messages and time and temperature flash across the board on an old grain elevator.

I see positivity and care in messages.

Nancy's Cafe, presents an iconic Main Street appearance.

Nancy’s Cafe, presents an iconic Main Street appearance.

Expect basics like his hand-formed hamburger patty at Nancy's.

Expect basics like his hand-formed hamburger patty at Nancy’s.

I see the mix of small town Main Street and chain businesses along Interstate 35 meeting travelers’ needs. A duo personality town.

This old grain elevator has been repurposed into another use. Note the upper level balcony and windows. I asked around town. But no one could tell me what's housed here.

This old grain elevator has been repurposed into another use. Note the upper level balcony and windows. I asked around town, but no one could tell me what’s housed here.

Agricultural merchandise is showcased in a downtown antique store window.

Agricultural merchandise is showcased in a downtown antique store window.

Agriculturally-born. Yet evolving into something else.

A Total Security truck parked next to the old grain elevator.

A Total Security truck parked next to the old grain elevator.

Every part, every building, every sign, every person, every scene snapshots into a single album—Albert Lea.

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This concludes my four-part series on Albert Lea. To read my first three posts, click here and here and here.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling