Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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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

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21 Responses to “Part IV from Albert Lea: Snapshots around town”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Signs are such an interesting way of learning about a community and I giggle so often at the creativity and care that some businesses take with their signage. You captured some great examples in Albert Lea.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    A fantastic series. Albert Lea is a little gem, The Land Between Lakes, at the intersection of I90 & I35 in southern MN. I completely forget about it until I need to travel there for business.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Capturing captions, what a wonderful way to document the life of a town!

  4. Elbow Room – that’s amusing

  5. Great Captures – love the Elbow Room! I will be heading back to rural MN shortly – my uncle passed away this week – have not been back for some time – looking forward to it even with the circumstances that are having me return. Your pics remind me of the time spent with my uncle farming, hanging out at the American Legion, having a home made lunch at the local cafe, etc.

    Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

  6. Jackie Says:

    I love the inspirational message on the steps, and the “elbow room” makes me wanna go there. What did you think of Nancy’s cafe?

  7. Sue Ready Says:

    Again thank you from a reader for highlighting the “personality” of another small town in Minnesota through your photographs.

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    I do love your images of rural America. What a lovely town and how beautiful is that message on the steps! The architecture of the buildings is gorgeous and I wouldn’t mind sitting down to that burger xx

  9. Living here in Northfield, Minnesota, I always hear about the towns you write about, but your photos are a great incentive to visit them. Your image of the “Elbow Room” was a memorable case in point. I have become a keen follower of your blog and recently mentioned it to readers of my own blog.

  10. […] “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.” For the rest of the story click here. […]


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