Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The B’s have it with bargain books, bluebirds, Big Bang Boom & beer April 21, 2017

I LOVE BOOKS. And I love a bargain.

Combine the two and you have a used book sale. This week and next, book lovers in my area have opportunities to shop two used book sales.

The first, the annual Faribault American Association of University Women’s Book Sale opened Thursday at the Faribo West Mall and continues through April 25. Hours are from 10 a.m. to mall closing on April 21 – 23 and then from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. April 24 – 25. There’s an added activity—a Kids’ Karnival from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

 

Books I selected from the “Minnesota table,” albeit Prairie Perpendicular (one of my all-time favorite fiction books) is set in small North Dakota farming community and written by a North Dakotan. I bought these at a past AAUW Book Sale. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

I try to shop this sale every year, looking primarily for vintage and Minnesota-themed/authored books. But now that I have a one-year-old granddaughter I likely will also spend more time in the children’s books section.

 

Books my son purchased at a past AAUW sale. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

When my son was still home—he’s 23 now and living in Boston—he would haul home bags of fantasy and science fiction titles. He’s a voracious reader.

Just up the road about 15 miles, the Northfield Hospital Auxiliary is hosting its 56th annual book sale from April 25 – 29 at the Northfield Ice Arena. This is a mega sale where you can easily spend hours perusing books, puzzles, DVDs, CDs and vinyl. Hours are from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. April 25, from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. April 26 – 28 and from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. April 29. Books are free from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. on the final day.

 

I found this vintage (perhaps 1960s) booklet at last year’s AAUW Book Sale. I love the graphics. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

I appreciate the efforts of the many volunteers who collect, haul, organize and sell these used books and more as a service to the community and as a way to raise monies for scholarships, community projects and more.

TELL ME: Do you shop an annual used book sale? Where? What draws you there?

 

Promo courtesy of the Bluebird Recovery Program.

 

NOW ABOUT THOSE BIRDS…the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota holds its annual expo from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday at the Northfield Middle School. If bluebirds interest you as much as books interest me, then consider attending this event. Click here to learn more about “bringing back bluebirds for future generations.” Expo registration cost is $15 or $25 for registration and lunch.

 

Big Bang Boom. Photo courtesy of the Paradise Center for the Arts.

 

IT WON’T COST YOU anything to attend a concert at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Paradise Center for the Arts, 321 Central Avenue North, Faribault. The free concert by the pop/rock music trio Big Bang Boom is geared toward families.

 

Faribault artist Rhody Yule (now deceased) created this oil painting of the Fleckenstein Brewery in 1976. The building, and the brewery, no longer exist. The 20-foot Fleck’s beer bottle on the right side of the painting sat near the brewery entrance. Children often had their pictures taken here when their parents took a brewery tour. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

ADULTS WITH AN INTEREST in Minnesota brewing history will want to attend the Fleckenstein Brewery Walking Tour in Faribault on Saturday. Sponsored by the Rice County Historical Society and led by local Fleckenstein historian Brian Schmidt, the popular tours will be offered at 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Good walking/hiking shoes are a must. Click here for more info and/or call 507-332-2121 to reserve a tour spot. The tours are filling quickly; don’t expect to get in if you just show up.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Cruisn’ onto Faribault’s Central Avenue on a summer evening July 19, 2016

A 1946 Fleck's

A 1946 Fleck’s delivery truck is showcased along Faribault’s Central Avenue at the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night. Donated to the Rice County Historical Society, this Fleckenstein Brewery delivery truck is the only known one to still exist. Efforts are underway to restore the truck  with a gofundme site established to raise $35,000 for the project. Fleckenstein Brewery was in business in Faribault for 108 years.

HISTORY,

 

Car Cruise Night, 28 die in window

 

NOSTALGIA,

I've discovered that car collectors often possess a quirky sense of humor.

I’ve learned that car collectors often possess a quirky sense of humor.

HUMOR—all rolled into Faribault’s monthly Car Cruise Night on Friday evening in the heart of our historic downtown.

 

Car Cruise Night, 1 lime green Ford 4x4

 

Car Cruise Night, 71 boy in Mercedes

 

Car Cruise Night, 55 Pioneer collectible car

 

What an event. For three hours I meandered and perused the vehicles angled into parking spots along the 200 and 300 blocks of Central Avenue. Music blared. Cars roared and rumbled. And folks lingered car-side and curb-side to admire vehicles ranging from a polished lime green Ford F250 4×4 truck to a Pioneer collectible car to a mini Mercedes driven by a preschooler.

 

Car Cruise Night, 25 street scene downtown Faribault

 

The atmosphere was kicked back relaxing against a backdrop of lovely historic buildings on a perfect Minnesota summer evening.

 

Car Cruise Night, 81 skateboarders

 

Car Cruise Night, 85 hanging out

 

Car Cruise Night, 17 man passing through

 

Friends conversed. Car enthusiasts mingled. Teens skateboarded and biked through the crowd while families group-walked, men clustered to talk cars and a couple leaned in close to study an engine. Others simply went about their business downtown, seemingly oblivious.

 

Car Cruise Night, 113 Chrysler 300, 1965

 

I’ve been to many of these Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Nights, and never have I seen such a crowd. Participants included my friends Larry and Sheryl who arrived in their creamy pale yellow 1965 Chrysler 300, a car which recently took them on a road trip to the Ozarks of Missouri.

 

Car Cruise Night, 111 Chevy pick-up truck 1950

This truck, originally painted a dark green, belonged to Dean’s grandfather. It was then passed on to Dean’s dad, who painted it John Deere green. When Dean got the truck after his father’s death, he painted it black. Growing up, Dean learned to drive the pick-up in an alfalfa field. Although others have suggested that Dean soup this truck up, he intends to keep it as original as possible.

Across the street, Dean shared that he is the third generation owner of a 1950 Chevy pick-up, a truck he will some day pass on to his son. The truck means a lot to Dean, whose father died 26 years ago of a massive heart attack in his mid fifties.

 

Car Cruise Night, 36 Imperial

 

A block away, my friend Barb directed me to the classy 60s-something Chrysler Imperial she and husband Bob drove to the event.

 

Car Cruise Night, 45 in loving memory

 

If there’s one universal emotion among participants in Car Cruise Night, it’s pride. In every gleaming bumper, every personalized message, every vintage period accessory, I see the pride of those who own these vehicles.

 

Park stickers grace the window of a 1959 Edsel Village Wagon.

Park stickers grace the window of a 1959 Edsel Village Wagon.

 

Car Cruise Night, 64 red car

 

This one-of-a-kind ginormous trophy was unveiled

This one-of-a-kind ginormous trophy was unveiled at the Car Cruise. It will be awarded on August 19 to the car club with the 10 best cars during the Car Club Show Down.

Memories are polished in to these vehicles that are more than mere modes of transportation. These are Saturday night dates, family vacations, bumpy rides across alfalfa fields, first cars, trophy winners. These are stories of people and places and moments in life.

A show of humor on the back of a 1974 Ford Torino.

A humorous touch on the back of a 1974 Ford Torino.

Please check back for two more posts featuring images from the July 15 Faribault Downtown Car Cruise Night organized by Faribault Main Street and supported by numerous sponsors.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Anniversary event features amateur silent film clips from Faribault March 16, 2016

 

A mural, one of several in the downtown area, promotes historic Faribault.

A mural, one of several in the downtown area, promotes historic Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I MAY NOT BE A FARIBAULT NATIVE. But I’ve lived here long enough—34 years—to surface-know local history.

A downtown Faribault mural featuring Fleck's beer.

A downtown Faribault mural features Fleck’s beer. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

So when Brian Schmidt, native historian, collector of Fleckenstein Brewery memorabilia and member of the Rice County Historical Society Board of Directors, called me recently, I listened. Faribault history interests me because, even if I wasn’t born and raised here, this community is now part of my family’s history.

Inside the historic Village Family Theater. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2016.

Inside the historic Village Family Theater. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2015.

On Saturday, March 19, a previously publicly unseen piece of local history will debut on the big screen at the historic Village Family Theater in the form of a silent movie. I could hear the excitement in Schmidt’s voice as he talked about amateur film footage shot between 1935-1938 by Charles Fleckenstein of Faribault brewery fame.

Schmidt purchased the unmarked film at a Faribault auction house. When he started viewing the clips, he knew he’d stumbled upon something remarkable. And now he’s sharing that discovery in a 10-minute professionally produced silent film montage reminiscent of a bygone era.

Stacked inside the Harvest and Heritage Halls are these crates from Fleckenstein, which brewed beer and made soda in Faribault.

Stacked inside the RCHS Harvest and Heritage Halls are these crates from Fleckenstein, which brewed beer and made soda in Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo October 2015.

Viewers will see workers digging a tunnel and celebrating a birthday at Fleckenstein Brewery (yes, they’re drinking beer), plus other footage of a long ago golf course in the middle of town, the 1938 Faribault Jalopy Race and Thrill Day, The Top amusement ride on Roberds Lake, and the old Faribault Airport and The Bluebird Inn (a former high-end restaurant) south of town.

An edited photo of a sign at the Rice County Historical Society. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo October 2015.

An edited photo of a sign at the Rice County Historical Society. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo October 2015.

The silent film, followed by the feature film, The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, kicks off the Rice County Historical Society’s 90th anniversary celebration. Set and filmed in Ireland, the movie seems the ideal classic for a post St. Patrick’s Day show.

I did a quick tour of the theater in August 2015. This sign sat in the lobby. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

I did a quick drop-in tour of the theater in August 2015. This sign sat in the lobby. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

After the movie, attendees can tour the historic theater, purchased in 2103 by Steve McDonough and since refurbished. The building, just off Faribault’s Central Avenue, was built in 1896 as an Armory, then converted to a funeral parlor in 1912. In the late 1940s, the building became the Village Movie Theater, closing some 40 years ago. It also served for awhile as the Village Bar and as a church.

llllllll

The wooden floor is original to the theater. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo August 2015.

Schmidt says attendees at the RCHS event should take special note of supporting timbers in the basement. Those were cut to angle the floor for the movie theater. The floor is a floating floor, unattached to the walls.

Surrounded by history while watching history. That’s how I see it.

FYI: The 90th anniversary celebration begins with the silent film showing at 3 p.m. followed by the feature movie and tour. The Village Family Theater is located at 20 Second Street Northwest. Admission is $5 for RCHS members and $7 for non-members.

 

Faribault’s long-standing historic appreciation for Fleck’s beer February 19, 2013

YOU NEEDN’T LOOK FAR to see the notable imprint the Fleckenstein breweries made on Faribault.

A downtown Faribault mural featuring Fleck's beer.

A downtown Faribault mural featuring Fleck’s beer.

In the heart of Faribault’s historic downtown, a mural at 513 Central Avenue features Fleck’s beer barrels stacked upon a horse-drawn wagon in one of seven historical-themed murals created by the Mural Society of Faribault.

Kitty-corner across the street at the State Bank of Faribault, 428 Central Avenue, bank President John R. Carlander’s personal collection of Fleckenstein/Fleck’s memorabilia is displayed.

The Fleckenstein building houses Twin City Underwriters in the south front with empty space for lease in the other half.

The Fleckenstein building, home to several businesses including an  insurance company, photo studio and salon. If anyone knows the story behind the Fleckenstein family’s connection to the building, I’d like to hear.

Two blocks away in Faribault’s Historic Commercial District, the Fleckenstein building stands at 220 Central Avenue.

Across town at the Rice County Historical Society, 1814 N.W. Second Avenue, you’ll find a permanent Fleckenstein breweries exhibit.

And who knows how many locals own pieces of Fleckenstein history from the breweries of brothers Gottfried and Ernst Fleckenstein. The two began as partners, opening the Fleckenstein Brewery along the banks of the Straight River in 1856. There they aged and stored their beer in caves.

Eventually the two split, Gottfried’s brewery remaining at the original site at 222 Third Avenue N.E. Meanwhile, Ernst moved farther north along the Straight River and established Ernst Fleckenstein Brewing Company in 1872. That would continue in operation until 1964. Gottfried’s brewery, which had been passed along to his son, Louis, closed in 1907.

Chris Voegele, left, and Noah Strouth inside the space that will house Patriot's Brewing brewery.

Chris Voegele, left, and Noah Strouth inside the space that will house Patriot’s Brewing brewery.

With 108 years of business history in Faribault, it’s no wonder the Fleckenstein breweries made an impression upon locals like Noah Strouth and Chris Voegele who will bottle Fleck’s branded beers at Patriot’s Brewing Company, set to open this fall in downtown Faribault within blocks of the first Fleckenstein brewery. You can read about that new brewery by clicking here to a previous post.

The two plan to eventually open a tap room which will feature Fleck’s/Fleckenstein memorabilia culled from their personal inventory and from the collections of others who’ve already offered their historical pieces for display. I don’t expect Strouth will show his 1958 unopened bottle of Fleck’s beer. But it’s interesting to hear his claim that this 55-year-old bottle has always been kept cold. He knows that, he says, because of the beer’s clarity.

If anyone knows Fleck’s beer, it would be Faribault resident Brian Schmidt who owns more than 300 collectible pieces from the Fleckenstein breweries and has created a Fleck’s website. (Click here to reach that.) Schmidt grew up on Faribault’s north side and remembers digging for bottles in the Fleckenstein brewery “bottle pit.”

Faribault artist Rhody Yule created this oil painting of the Fleckenstein Brewery in 1976. The building, and the brewery, no longer exist. The 20-foot Fleck's beer bottle on the right side of the painting sat near the brewery entrance. Children often had their pictures taken here when their parents took a brewery tour.

Faribault artist Rhody Yule created this oil painting of the Fleckenstein Brewery in 1976. The building, and the brewery, no longer exist. The 20-foot Fleck’s beer bottle on the right side of the painting sat near the brewery entrance. Children often had their pictures taken here when their parents took a brewery tour. The brewery also made soda.

I’ve yet to see Schmidt’s collection, although I’ve viewed one piece, a 1976 brewery painting by my artist friend Rhody Yule of Faribault. Schmidt brought the artwork, which he purchased for $90 at a local auction, to “A Lifetime of Art: The Rhody Yule Collection” exhibit in January 2011 at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault. Click here to read my post about that brewery painting and another piece Schmidt shared at Yule’s show.

Equally as interesting are the brewery related stories shared by locals, including that of a 92-year-old friend who wished to remain anonymous. The Faribault native remembers her sister picking tight-bud peonies from the family farm in June and storing the flowers inside a brewery cave until her early July wedding.

This I learned when I phoned to ask about the Fleckenstein-donated stained glass windows which grace my church, Trinity Lutheran, along Fourth Street in Faribault. My friend couldn’t offer any details on the windows, or even if the Fleckensteins were Trinity members. But I certainly appreciated hearing her sister’s wedding flower story.

Likewise I spoke with another longtime Faribault resident who knew members of the Fleckenstein family—Al, Ruge, John and Chauncey—from his days of bowling against the Fleck’s Brewery team. In his early 20s at the time, my friend recalls the Fleckensteins, 15-plus years his senior, as strong supporters/sponsors of bowling in Faribault. Several generations of Fleckensteins operated the breweries.

Hearing stories like this reinforces the results of a Faribault Main Street downtown market analysis report prepared in September 2011. According to that report by (IN)ALLIANCE, LLC, “downtown Faribault would be an ideal location for a craft brew pub.”

The report went on to state this:

Given the history of brewing in Faribault and its consumer who is attracted to culture and history, naming a brewpub solicitation as “Fleckenstein Brew Pub” would prove to be a good promotional tool.

Chris Voegele , left, and Noah Strouth, owners of Patriot's Brewing Company

Chris Voegele , left, and Noah Strouth, owners of Patriot’s Brewing Company

When I interviewed Patriot Brewing owners Strouth and Voegele, I mentioned the market analysis (of which they were unaware) and they concurred with that important historic connection and Faribault promotional aspect. “People in Faribault seem to like their history,” Voegele said.

With the opening of a brewery and a tap room (not a brewpub), Patriot’s Brewing will assuredly add to the beloved history of Fleck’s beer in Faribault.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Patriot’s Brewing Company opening in Faribault with a nod to the past February 16, 2013

SEVERAL MONTHS AGO I overheard several antique dealers discussing a brewery in Faribault. I lingered nearby, feigning interest in merchandise so I could eavesdrop. With tidbits of information filed in my memory, I meandered farther into the Peterson Art Furniture Company complex.

There I spotted Northfield attorney, historic preservationist, and Peterson building and architectural salvage business owner David Hvistendahl eating lunch. Perfect timing. “What’s this about a brewery coming to Faribault?” I asked.

Chris Voegele , left, and Noah Strouth, owners of Patriot's Brewing Company

Chris Voegele , left, and Noah Strouth, owners of Patriot’s Brewing Company.

And thus I was introduced to Patriot’s Brewing Company, a Faribault-based regional brewery slated to open this fall, according to owners Noah Strouth, 40, and Chris Voegele, 41. Saturday morning I met with these longtime friends and 1990 Faribault High School graduates to learn more about their craft beer business. Up until then, I’d been asked not to publicly divulge news about the brewery.

The brewery will be housed in the lower level of the brick building on the left with a tap room opening later in the small white building in the center of the Peterson Art Furniture complex.

The brewery will be housed in the lower level of the brick building on the left with a tap room opening later in the small white building in the front of the Peterson Art Furniture complex.

But word had gotten around town and the time seemed right to share their plans for the brewery which will be housed in a 3,250 square foot basement section in the southwest corner of the former Peterson Art Furniture Company (before that home to the Faribault Furniture Company) building along Fourth Street in the heart of historic downtown Faribault.

David Hvistendahl, from whom Patriot's is renting space for the brewery, sports a Fleck's beer t-shirt. A line of Fleck's Hvistendahl and a partner plan to eventually open an event center int he space above the brewery.

David Hvistendahl, from whom Patriot’s is renting space for the brewery, sports a Fleck’s beer t-shirt. Fleck’s branded clothing will soon be available for purchase through Patriot’s Brewing. Hvistendahl and a partner plan to eventually open an event center in the space above the brewery.

For the first time since 1964, when Fleckenstein Brewery closed, Faribault will have its own brewery, and one which will brew Fleck’s labeled bock and lagers. Patriot’s Brewing has trademarked the Fleck’s name, which had been left in the public domain, Voegele said.

“People in Faribault seem to like their history,” Voegele said, both he and Strouth emphasizing the name recognition and importance of Fleck’s beer in Faribault history.

They’ve even talked to locals who drank Fleck’s beer to learn more about the taste, something they hope to re-create in a Fleck’s lager. The recipes died with Ernst “Boots” Fleckenstein, the last brewmaster, Voegele said. The pair has also considered the historic grains and the water at the time (the brewery drew its water from an artesian well) the popular Faribault beer was produced. They’ll never exactly replicate Fleck’s, especially since they cannot re-create the yeast strain (of major importance in the brewing process), but they will try, the two say.

The brewery space.

The brewery space.

“Everything is in motion,” said Voegele as he and Strouth stood in the sprawling brewery space defined by rugged stone walls of local gray quarry stone and by thick support posts. The former storage area has been cleared and the two are working on the infrastructure with projects like tuckpointing and reinstalling the original windows in the 1886 building. Additional water and sewer lines are set for June installation during a street reconstruction project.

The walls are constructed from locally quarried stone.

The walls, constructed from locally quarried stone, will be tuckpointed.

They hope to begin brewing in the fall, starting with 80-100 barrels a month, producing one or two beers initially in their 25-barrel brewhouse. Each barrel holds 31 gallons. A Fleck’s branded lager will be among their first beers.

Strouth and Voegele are no novices at beer brewing, For five years already they’ve brewed beer in a small scale mini brewery in the basement of Strouth’s rural Faribault home. They can produce about 16 gallons and will use the same operating system in the brewery, only on a much larger scale.

They are, they agree, passionate about brewing beer, bringing their home-brewed beers to taste testers at local beer clubs and to area craft beer competitions. In 2012, their beer earned four first place ribbons at the Rice County Fair.

“We make beer that we like to drink,” Strouth said. “And people seem to like our beer.”

Patriot’s Brewing already has created recipes for five beers: #1 American Pale Ale, IPA Olicious (an India Pale Ale), Nutso (a nut brown ale), Stouty McStouterton (an oatmeal stout) and Fleck’s bock (a helles bock). The brewers are also working on lagers.

“We have a high appreciation for fine beer,” Voegele said, admitting it took awhile, though, for his beer palate to develop.

This view looks toward the  steps leading to the future tap room.

This view looks toward the steps leading to the future tap room. Only beer, and not food, will be served here.

While Patriot’s Brewing aims for regional distribution of its beer within a 60-mile radius of Faribault, the brewery is also relying on strong community support. As the business grows, plans call for opening of a tap room just up a set of steps from the brewery in a garage space occupied by Color My World. Voegele envisions a little bar with tables and chairs in an old style atmosphere in the cement-walled space. The pair plan to incorporate Fleckenstein Brewery/Fleck’s beer memorabilia into the tap room.

And then, as the business grows even more, the two hope to move the tap room elsewhere and use that vacated space for a grain room.

The ceiling of the historic building in the brewery area.

The ceiling of the historic building in the brewery area.

Eventually, they hope to offer brewery tours.

But that’s all in the future, after the brewery is established and sales are going strong. For now, Strouth and Voegele are concentrating on getting the brewery up and running while keeping their day jobs. Strouth works as a welder and fabricator at Lockerby Sheet Metal. Voegele teaches biology 105 at Minnesota State University, Mankato, works as an emergency medical technician in St. Peter and farms part-time in rural Morristown.

As they grow their regional brewery, they also plan to add employees.

Chris Voegele and Noah Strouth are grounded in Faribault, their hometown.

Chris Voegele and Noah Strouth are grounded in Faribault, their hometown.

They are committed to Faribault, to its rich history. “Our roots are in Faribault,” Voegele said.

They are also committed to using American made/grown products—from equipment to hops to bottles—whenever possible in their business.

Noah Strouth's nephew, Alex Strouth, a senior at Northfield High School, created the patriotic themed company logo.

Noah Strouth’s nephew, Alex Strouth, a senior at Northfield High School, created the patriotic themed company logo.

That sense of American pride explains the company name—Patriot’s Brewing Company. “We believe in America…promoting American businesses, the feeling of Americanism, pride in country,” Voegele said.

And although Voegele did not specifically state it, he and Strouth are now living the American dream in starting their own business, Patriot’s Brewing Company.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The mystery of the brewery and bank paintings January 17, 2011

I DIDN’T GROW UP in Faribault. But I’ve lived here longer than any place in my life—28 ½ years—so I suppose that makes me somewhat of a local.

As such, I’ve developed an appreciation for the history that surrounds me, especially in the downtown. Faribault boasts a historic commercial district graced by many beautiful brick buildings.

So when two paintings of old Faribault buildings mysteriously showed up at my friend Rhody Yule’s art exhibit, I was intrigued. I knew the pieces in the exhibit inside and out, backward and forward, upside down and right side up because I submitted the application for Rhody’s show and then helped select the art.

Then, suddenly, these two additional paintings—of the Fleckenstein Brewery and the Security Bank—appear. How did they get there?

 

Faribault artist Rhody Yule created this oil painting of the Fleckenstein Brewery in 1976. The building, and the brewery, no longer exist. The 20-foot Fleck's beer bottle on the right side of the painting sat near the brewery entrance. Children often had their pictures taken here when their parents toured the brewery.

In 1964, Rhody Yule painted this picture of the Security Bank in downtown Faribault. The original 1870 stone structure was covered with a brick facade. The building is no longer a bank.

I asked around, but no one could solve the mystery.

Thanks to my sleuthing husband, who thought to look at the backs of the paintings, the mystery was quickly solved and I had a name and number.

Local history buff Brian Schmidt owns the oil paintings. When he learned of Rhody’s art show, he hustled the two pieces down to the Paradise Center for the Arts because he figured others would be interested.

Brian was right and I had lots of questions for him, starting with, “Where did you get these paintings?”

Turns out he purchased them at Woody Schrader auctions, which are held on Sundays and Wednesdays at Schrader’s Faribault auction house.

As long as we were talking, I didn’t shy from asking Brian how much he paid for the paintings. He purchased the 1964 bank painting for $30 seven years ago. He got the 1976 painting of the Fleckenstein Brewery about 10 years ago for $90.

I told Brian he got a deal. He knew it.

But here’s the best part about this whole story. Brian grew up on the north side of Faribault and often dug for bottles in the “bottle pit” at the Fleckenstein Brewery. He’s also considered the local expert on the brewery, he says, and has some 300 collectible brewery items.

Who better to own these paintings than Brian?

“I love Faribault history,” says this Rice County Historical Society member who is always seeking treasures from the city’s past.

He can tell you that the Fleckenstein Brewery had a 108-year history in Faribault, opening in 1856 and closing in 1964. The Fleckensteins made Fleck’s beer and pop. He’s eager to share more and has invited me and my husband to see his collection.

For now, though, we focused primarily on those paintings.

“I was so glad to put to rest the mystery of the paintings that I own from Rhody Yule,” Brian wrote in an e-mail follow-up to our phone conversation. “I have often wondered where his studio was and who was the man behind the wonderful art work that I found. It was a pleasure to finally see the man who actually painted these wonderful paintings. I will cherish these paintings FOREVER now!”

 

The former Security Bank, today, along Central Avenue in downtown Faribault.

The clock that graces the corner of the Security Bank building has fallen apart. A number of years ago there was discussion about refurbishing the clock, but that didn't happen, I believe, because of the high costs to undertake such a project.

The lovely stone entrance to the Security Bank.

FYI: Rhody Yule, who was a Faribault sign painter for 33 years, never had a studio. He painted quietly at home for enjoyment.

IF ANYONE OWNS paintings by Rhody, please submit a comment here and tell me about the art pieces you have.

If you would like to see the Security Bank and Fleckenstein Brewery paintings, which Brian Schmidt terms “so spectacular and detailed,” check out “A Lifetime of Art: The Rhody Yule Collection” at the Paradise Center for the Arts. Hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Friday and noon – 5 p.m. Saturday. This first-ever gallery show for 92-year-old Rhody runs through February 26.

Other exhibit paintings of Faribault buildings include one of the old Trinity Lutheran Church and School and the Faribault Woolen Mill.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling