Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places provide the backdrop for vintage vehicles during Faribault’s Car Cruise Night on July 15.
SO MUCH ABOUT FARIBAULT DOWNTOWN Car Cruise Nights appeals to me. Certainly the vehicles draw my interest from an artistic, photographic and historical perspective. The opportunity, too, to mingle and visit also appeals to me.
The University of Minnesota Gopher Motorsports team brought its global Formula SAE series race car to cruise night and parked it in the 300 block of Central Avenue’s historic district.
But one other aspect imprints upon me every single time I attend this monthly summer event. That’s the historic setting. Aged buildings in the 5 x 2 1/2 block Faribault Commercial Historic District provide a lovely backdrop to the many vintage vehicles that roll onto Central Avenue.
As a photographer, I am always cognizant of light and background, of angle and perspective, of composition and subject. Thus, I notice the primarily brick buildings that rise stories above the street, casting deep shadows as dusk settles.
Details on buildings along the west side of the 300 block of Central Avenue.
Sometimes I just stand in the middle of Central and look upward toward the arched windows, the ornate roof lines, the fading letters that mark long ago businesses and wonder about yesteryear. I think about the tailors and harnessmakers, the shoemakers, the purveyors of dry goods, books and stationery…
Historic buildings reflected in a polished vehicle at Car Cruise Night.
I am grateful that my community had the foresight to preserve these stalwart buildings of the 1870s and 1880s rather than tear them down. I am grateful for the existence of the Faribault Heritage Preservation Commission. I appreciate my downtown.
A 1959 Edsel Village Wagon is parked in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts with its recreated marquee.
Faribault is uniquely geographically positioned off Interstate 35 within an hour of the Twin Cities metro to draw visitors. Minnesota State Highway 60 also passes right through the heart of town. I’m sensing that more people are finally discovering this place I’ve called home for some 30 years. Newer businesses like a cheese shop, brewery and cakery; a thriving arts center; and more are bringing people into our historic downtown.
This emblem tops a homemade over-sized trophy to be awarded August 19 at the Car Club Show Down.
I’d like to see, though, a shift in local attitudes. While many residents appreciate and value downtown Faribault, we need to grow more local pride. Events like Car Cruise Night and the upcoming Blue Collar BBQ & Arts Festival (on August 13) get residents involved and foster a sense of community.
The building behind the cars (230 Central) is listed on documents as the Masonic Building, built in 1875. Pawn Minnesota once housed Poirier Drug Store. In 1993, Warner Brothers filmed a scene in the drug store for the movie Grumpy Old Men starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon.
As someone who grew up 120 miles away to the west in a small town founded nearly 50 years after Faribault, I deeply appreciate Faribault’s historic downtown. My hometown of Vesta is devoid of old buildings, the one-block Main Street now mostly vacant lots. Faribault has dozens of places throughout the community on the National Register of Historic Places, including the 200 block of Central Avenue. Those historic buildings are an enviable asset.
Collector vehicles pop color and history into Faribault’s downtown.
When I attend events like Car Cruise Night, I take notice of my surroundings. Not just the collector vehicles. But the historic setting that showcases them. And I realize how valuable this downtown is to this city.
The Faribault Drag-On’s Car Club, established in 1987, brings together local car enthusiasts. This sign was posted inside a vehicle at Car Cruise Night.
Pride reflected in the polished finish of car and hood ornament.
This unique vehicle, parked in front of the Paradise Center for the Arts, drew lots of interest at the July 15 Car Cruise Night.
The sleek lines of a jetliner hood ornament drew my artistic attention.
A multitude of messages in a vehicle window caused me to pause.
The Dodge Super Bee with the bee theme going on drew my interest. This was parked in the 200 block of Faribault’s historic downtown Central Avenue.
Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Nights draw all ages and some dogs, too. I’d like to see family-oriented events added, perhaps a scavenger hunt that focuses on the historic buildings.
Some buildings in the historic commercial district have not yet been fully restored.
While photographing vehicles, I noticed the truck reflection in the storefront window of a hair salon with this simple artsy display.
FYI: This concludes my three-part series on the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night. Click here to see my first post and here to read my second in this series.
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling