MY COMMUNITY OF FARIBAULT is proud of its rich history, reflected most noticeably in our downtown historic district of primarily well-kept aged buildings. It is one of the aspects I most love and appreciate about this southeastern Minnesota city where I’ve lived since 1982.
Now another dimension has been added to the downtown with the street corner placement of park style cast iron benches that feature stories and photos on local history. Functional, educational and lovely.
Sunday morning Randy and I walked along Central Avenue, pausing at each bench to read the brief text and view the accompanying images.
A project of the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism and Faribault Main Street, the business-sponsored benches provide a quick lesson in Faribault’s history. I was curious to see what topics would be highlighted. None surprised me.
From milling to manufacturing (of the Tilt-A-Whirl), from education to floriculture, from famous people to noted buildings and much more, Faribault’s history is well-covered. I noted, though, that the fur trade, brewing history and Women’s Air Force Service Pilot Liz Wall Strohfus (after whom our airport is named) missing. But benches are in the works for those.
For anyone new to or visiting Faribault or even those who grew up here or have lived here for a long time (like me), I’d recommend a stroll along several blocks of Central Avenue to view these 12 benches. History is such an important part of a community in defining its identity. Past and present link. And sometimes it’s good to review that history, to understand and appreciate a place.
Parents, grandparents, educators, take the kids downtown Faribault for a walk and a quick history lesson. Along the way, notice businesses and how diverse our community.
Reflect on the stories you read on these benches and perhaps plan additional side trips to take in places highlighted. Also seek out the many historically-themed murals in our downtown core.
I am grateful to those in our community who continue to preserve and showcase Faribault’s past. This bench project is just another example of how history is valued locally. History is, and always will be, an important part of our identity.
And today, the people who live and work here continue to write history for future generations as Faribault grows and changes.
FUN FOLLOW-UP FACTS:
- Local and regional businesses crafted the benches, including Jeff Jarvis of West Cedar Studio, Morristown, leading the art work; MRG Tool & Die, Faribault, crafting the steel seats; Mercury Minnesota, Faribault, painting and assembling, Alliant Castings, Winona, creating the bench ends; and Sakatah Carvers, Signs and Creations, Faribault, ordering and applying the decals.
- The bench end design is based on a set of antique bench ends.
- Faribault’s identifying brand symbol, the fleur de lis, is custom reverse engineered into the bench ends.
- A ribbon cutting and history walk around the benches is planned once the project is completed.
Facts source: Kelly Nygaard, Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism
© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Updated at 7:40 am July 29, 2020