Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

This & that from my tour of downtown Sleepy Eye, Part IV March 13, 2018

Editor’s note: Today’s post concludes my four-part series from downtown Sleepy Eye in southwestern Minnesota. This final photo essay presents a mishmash of images. Enjoy.


The Sleepy Eye Farmers Elevator stands as a visual reminder of this area’s strong farming base. However, the elevator has not been used since 2009 and was purchased by a private party from Central Region Cooperative just a year ago.


An Indian chief, spotted in a storefront window, connects visually to the town’s namesake, Chief Sleepy Eyes.


I took my camera inside K & J Antiques & Collectibles where shopkeeper Kurk Kramer graciously allowed me to take photos.


Red Wing crocks and a beautiful vintage tile floor drew my attention in this former bakery turned antique shop.


Dakota Chief Sleepy Eyes is the town’s namesake. Kurk Kramer pulled this A.J. Pietrus & Sons vintage promo from a display case. He has plenty of Sleepy Eye collectibles for sale.


Native American collectibles are prominently displayed in this town named after a Dakota chief. This doll is offered for sale at K & J Antiques.


Sleepy Eye has a strong faith community with St. Mary’s Catholic Church and churches of other denominations. These figurines are shelved at K & J Antiques.


This photo shows a corner of a promo for the Orchid Inn, once a fine dining, banquet and dance hall in Sleepy Eye. These vintage paper pieces are for sale at K & J Antiques. The promo boasts (in part): “Of prime importance is the fact that while conveniently located, the Inn does provide the host with a site free of metropolitan distractions–a vital factor in group control.” It’s an interesting piece of literature for a former regional gathering place. Plans call for the property to become a STEM learning center with a focus on agriculture.


On a stalwart former bank building, I noticed this vintage alarm.


On another building I spotted this rusted mail slot. It looks like it’s been there awhile, as has the door.


I notice details, including this Minion towel hanging in a second floor window in an historic building. Made me laugh.


If you are interested in reading past posts written about Sleepy Eye through the years, please type Sleepy Eye into my blog search engine. Note that Sleepy Eye is much more than I presented in this four-part series. These posts are a result of about an hour spent walking through the downtown area before I had to be on my way. Plan your own trip to explore this community in Brown County, Minnesota. Click here to visit the Sleepy Eye Chamber of Commerce & CVB site for more information. 

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “This & that from my tour of downtown Sleepy Eye, Part IV”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    The minions made me laugh as well. Such a great pictorial tour of some pretty amazing collectibles. I must admit the burglar alarm was my favorite picture in this series. Such a great shot!

  2. Valerie Says:

    I agree, the burglar alarm is a fun discovery, probably overlooked by many. Good eye, Audrey.

  3. Don Says:

    Years ago we had a class reunion at the Orchid Inn and I remember my parents attending functions there various times. Sure does bring back memories! Seems like almost every town in the Midwest has a grain elevator, wow, I miss seeing grain elevators as there are none here. Thanks for the pictures and jogging my memories!

  4. The minions seem to be out of place. Great photos 💞

  5. Sue Ready Says:

    I enjoyed your series highlighting the different aspects of Sleepy Eye and yes wouldn’t it be nice to magically erase the fake fronts etc. and get down to the bare cones of the architecture and learn more about the history of these buildings. I hope you passed along your observations to their Chamber. Such wonderful photography.

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