Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Poster art showcases Faribault’s historic architecture December 9, 2016

TRAVEL WEST ACROSS the Highway 60 viaduct toward downtown Faribault and you likely will notice the steeples and towers poking above the landscape. Just like on the eastern side of my Minnesota community, these punctuating structures mark numerous historic buildings.


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Now Jeff Jarvis, a local historian and artist who works as the City of Faribault’s community enrichment coordinator, has created Steeples & Towers, a photo montage. For a donation to the Concerts in the Park fund, you can purchase this 12 x 18-inch poster featuring 18 spires on educational, religious and residential structures. Places like the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, the Hutchinson House, Buckham Memorial Library.

Buckham Memorial Library, Faribault, was built in 1929 with a Greek theme. Interior features include a Charles Connick stained glass window and Greek murals.

Buckham Memorial Library, Faribault, was built in 1929 with a Greek theme. Interior features include a Charles Connick stained glass window and Greek murals. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I’ve long valued the detailed architecture that defines so many aged buildings in Faribault. Jeff’s targeted and documented Steeples & Towers poster art heightens that appreciation and focuses awareness. “How dreary buildings would be if they were all square boxes,” he notes.

I agree.


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Likewise, Jeff’s artistic eye and historic awareness drew him to photograph 27 windows in historic downtown Faribault. Places like the Alexander Faribault House, the Fleckenstein Building, the post office. He’s created a Historic Downtown Faribault Windows poster, also available for purchase via a donation.

He writes:

The inspiration to do the windows downtown came initially from reading signs placed in the empty downtown buildings—“This building is not empty; it’s full of opportunity.” Reading these struck me as funny. From my point of view as an artist, I see the beauty of the intact architecture and the variety of exterior colors. It seems backward, but to me a full store is almost secondary.

The prize is being able to stroll about in respect and appreciation of the historic district. I see and imagine the stories hidden behind the facades—the limestone backsides, the alleyways with faded vintage lettering, and the add-ons that can be viewed if you look closely.

Of course, there are lots of metaphors or idioms about windows that are fun that could apply to the downtown situation like “God closes a door, then opens a window,” etc. The project itself was like seizing a window of opportunity to teach others to quit quibbling about downtown—to turn their focus instead to one of the lovelier features in town.

Historic buildings in downtown Faribault are decorated for the holiday season.

Restored historic buildings in downtown Faribault decorated during a past holiday season. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Jeff has it right. As a community, we need to seriously appreciate the aesthetic and historical value of the many old buildings that stand in and near the heart of the downtown and elsewhere throughout Faribault. I’m not saying that appreciation hasn’t existed. It has as evidenced in the restoration of many historic buildings, the existence of the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission, the current interest in possible Artspace development and more. But sometimes we get sidetracked, too often complaining about perceived problems or what we don’t have rather than valuing what we do have.

The Bavarian Musikmeisters, a 35-member band, perform on July 14 at Faribault's Central Park.

The Bavarian Musikmeisters, a 35-member band, perform on July 14 at Faribault’s Central Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And one of those assets—Concerts in the Park—is the benefactor of the historic posters sales. Those summer concerts are a 130-year tradition in Faribault. I’ve been attending these outdoor performances for more than 30 years, since relocating here. I’ve grown to love this Minnesota community. The traditions. The people. And, yes, the steeples, towers and windows, too.

FYI: If you are interested in purchasing these historic posters for a donation to the Concerts in the Park, stop at Faribault Park and Rec, 15 West Division Street, or email jjarvis@ci.faribault.mn.us. Donations will help underwrite concert costs.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Art posters copyright of Jeff Jarvis


28 Responses to “Poster art showcases Faribault’s historic architecture”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I know that the Concerts in the Park is one of your summer things to do and how neat that the posters help to fund these great community events. So glad your town is “your” town.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    LOVE this!!!!! Jeff did a great job and YOU added to it by adding it to your postings!!!! Thanks so much!! I love the towers and steeples but the windows hold even more interest for me!!!!!!

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    Reblogged this on Treadlemusic and commented:
    Check out this post and approach your town with “fresh eyes” to see what’s really there! These often overlooked details may disappear if we don’t treasure them!!!!!

  4. Valerie Says:

    Love the poster of both steeples and windows! Beautiful.

  5. Don Says:

    I love that Jeff Jarvisault realizes the importance of Faribault’s historic architecture and created the photo montage for all to enjoy, kudos to him for his efforts! As I prepare for an eventual return to the rural Midwest my wife and I are kicking around the idea of acquiring an old building in a downtown area and repurposing it into homes. In the town of my youth a local business person bought an old brick 3 story building in the downtown area, renovated it into condos and it is one of the nicest buildings in the downtown area! It is directly across from the wooded park and easy walking distance to stores and coffee shops. I would like to live in a building such as this, now all I have to do is find one!

    • I agree. Kudos to Jeff.

      Faribault is currently focusing on creating renovated higher end living spaces in the downtown above businesses. You might consider Faribault. But it may be too big for you with a population of about 23,000 and definitely with more than one stoplight. But we’d love to have you and your wife here.

  6. Don Says:

    A population of 23,000 is much smaller than where I currently live and the fact that Faribault has that small town flavor and attitude can make it very appealing too. Humm is there any person/business heading up these renovations that I may be able to contact? Perhaps the chamber of commerce could steer me in a direction………….

    • It’s a general concept and vision to upgrade downtown apartments in to higher end rentals. Fitting in with your whole idea of living where you can also shop, eat, play, etc. That’s the goal, to provide that type of housing in these old buildings.

      Yes, I would start with the Chamber. If you need further assistance, email me and I’ll see what I can do. Feel free to drop my name if you connect with someone.

  7. There is a building here that was re-covered in the 70’s and boy what an eye sore. Recently they took the facade off the building and it was such a shame to see this beautiful 1900’s building that was covered up like that in the 70’s. There are some beautiful Art Deco buildings in that area of the city. Thanks for sharing – love historical architecture and if some of the buildings could talk about all the happenings over the years there would be stories galore. Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

  8. Don Says:

    Message sent to the Chamber, thanks!

  9. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Those are beautiful! They don’t build buildings like that anymore

  10. That little stage is wonderful – and yes you do have a very pretty town –

  11. Sue Ready Says:

    what a wonderful artistic, creative endeavor and all for such a worthy cause a community event for all to enjoy.

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