Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Montgomery revisited, Part I February 26, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:15 AM
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A section of downtown Montgomery, Minnesota, with its many historic buildings.

 

I DOUBT I’VE WRITTEN about any small Minnesota community more than I’ve written about Montgomery. Located within a half hour of my Faribault home, it’s a quick drive away. And Montgomery offers just enough to keep me returning.

 

Signs always draw my eye, including this one. It’s simple, nostalgic…

 

Especially interesting is the downtown with eye-catching signage, aged buildings and home-grown shops.

 

Among the sweet offerings at the long-time, popular Franke’s Bakery.

 

An old-fashioned bakery.

 

Outside the entry to the Montgomery Arts & Heritage Center located in Hilltop Hall.

 

A thriving Arts & Heritage Center.

 

Beer to go at Montgomery Brewing.

 

A brewery with outstanding craft beers.

 

The friendly young man I met while photographing downtown. He paused to let me pet Buddy.

 

Friendly people.

 

Everywhere downtown you’ll find signs promoting kolacky.

 

A deep appreciation for the area’s Czech heritage. Combine those and you have a small town that appeals to me.

 

Third-generation Franke’s Bakery is known for its kolacky.

 

I recognize that what interests me may not interest you. But there’s something to be said for small towns with a strong sense of identity and pride in that identity. For Montgomery, it’s the tag, “Kolacky Capital of the World.” The kolacky is a bun-like Czech pastry filled with a fruit or poppyseed filling. Risking the wrath of the Czech, I will tell you that it’s not a favorite of mine. I’d choose a doughnut before a kolacky. But then I am of German descent and was not raised in this area of Minnesota.

 

Stand in the grocery store parking lot and you can see the grain elevator in one direction, the brewery in another and the main street through downtown, too.

 

None of that matters really. What matters is that I like Montgomery. Unleash me with a camera in this town and I get excited about the photo ops, all the ways I can capture the essence of this place. If my creative work is anything, it has always been about defining place.

 

Spotted in the window of a downtown business. These handwritten signs give a place character.

 

I will always feel most comfortable in a rural town like Montgomery. I appreciate a place where I can view a grain elevator, spot handwritten signs on business doors and windows, chat it up with the locals, stop to pet a passerby’s dog and stand in the middle of Main Street to take a photo without worry of traffic.

Now that my photo essay about Montgomery has published in the March issue of Southern Minn Scene magazine, I am free to share more photos from my January day trip to this Le Sueur County community. Enjoy and watch for additional posts highlighting Montgomery as I, once again, define this place in images and words.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

10 Responses to “Montgomery revisited, Part I”

  1. Littlesundog Says:

    Your photos tell a story on their own. I find Montgomery very pleasing and well worth exploring. My favorite photo is the last, handwritten “welcome” greeting. Sometimes a sign like that is WHY I go inside. Everyone wants to feel welcomed and appreciated!!

  2. Now I want a Bismarck real bad! Lovely town, thanks for the pictures.

  3. Lynette Spanbauer Says:

    I love kolache (as spelled by the Czech in South Dakota).

    ________________________________

  4. Brian Says:

    My wife and I enjoy taking day trips to the smaller communities from the Twin Cities. Things are pretty spread out in North Dakota so the opportunity to take a neighboring community visit is usually one to a larger town for shopping, and sadly the smaller North Dakota towns are dying a slow death. One such town is Tokio on the Spirit Lake Nation near Devils Lake ND. My non native grandparents had a home there after they moved off the farm. And my native grandfather lived and worked there for a time. Since the last of the homesteaders descendants died off or moved away I only see ghosts of the buildings and people I once saw. Being able to pet Buddy and enjoy a sweet pastry in Montgomery sounds like a good day.

  5. valeriebollinger Says:

    I liked seeing/reading your article in Southern Minn Scene magazine.


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