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
This is such a COOL project – love, love, love 🙂 Maybe they could dedicate a bench to Alexander Faribault, the Minnesota State Academies history along with Shattuck-Saint Mary’s, Elizabeth Strohfus, etc. Faribault is such a historic city. Thanks so much for sharing – made my day in taking a stroll through history! Happy Day – Enjoy.
I expect Alexander Faribault would be included in a bench themed to fur trading. That is one of the subjects named by those organizing this. Shattuck is already included on the Bishop Whipple bench. One for the Minnesota State Academies is also a really good suggestion.
New Ulm has a similar bench project featuring local history. I saw several benches when I was there in late June.
My mom is a retired Special Education Teacher and she spent some time at the Minnesota State Academies. My mom loved the campus so much she had my brother’s senior photos taken on the grounds.
You just reminded me that, about a month ago, Randy and I walked around the MN State Academy for the Deaf and I took photos, which I have yet to post. Beautiful aged buildings there.
Cannot wait to read your post and see the photos on your trip 🙂
It could be awhile. I have lots of photos in files, lots of blog posts to write…
What a fun idea. I like that that history is posted on the benches. I hope it’s made to last.
I like the idea of lots of benches around towns.
These benches are definitely sturdy and built to last. They were made by (mostly) local craftsman. Some of the subjects I suggested in this post are planned for those few remaining empty benches, according to Kelly with local tourism.
Thank you, Keith. I wish you could visit Faribault. I’d love to see your photographic perspective. I hope this finds you and yours well. It’s good to hear from you.
I wish I could as well. I so much want to see my mom who is 93. Still sharp as a tack. She is in Florida. West Palm Beach. Too vulnerable and in too much of of a hot spot. Stay safe and healthy Audrey.
Keith, I am so sorry you still have not been able to visit your mom. I know how much you miss her and are longing to see her. This is just so difficult. All of it. But you being smart by hanging tight for now given this pandemic and Florida’s current hot spot status.
Thank you Audrey.
My friend Eric told me that the Merlin Players are folding. That’s too bad.
I agree with your comment about Faribault.
Oh, no, I’m so sorry to hear that about The Merlin Players.
It was in the works even before COVID. Yes, it is sad.
I checked their website and Facebook page and see only that the rest of the 2020 season has been canceled. But I do trust your source and this truly saddens me.
Way to go , Faribault! That deserved an exclamation mark. 🙂
On behalf of my community, I accept your exclamation mark. Thank you!
Great memories of growing up here…glad to see the benches…
Sherry, welcome to the comments section and thank you for sharing that you hold great memories of Faribault.