Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Zip code 56034 January 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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YESTERDAY I SHOWED YOU the quaint 154-year-old Blue Earth County Fairgrounds in Garden City, the fate of which will be decided this evening at a special shareholders meeting of the Blue Earth County Fair Association.

The Garden City, Minnesota, Post Office, housed in a former bank building.

The Garden City, Minnesota, Post Office, housed in a former bank building.

Today, I reveal another gem in this unincorporated village along U.S. Highway 169 south of Mankato. That would be the post office.

Garden City post office, window and boxes

I took my camera inside the post office on a July morning because, well, you just don’t see all that many post offices like the one in Garden City.

Garden City post office, front close-up

According to the postmistress, the post office has been housed in this former bank building since the 1960s.

Garden City post office, door and steps

Garden City post office, boxes

Garden City post office, boxes up close

Garden City post office, inside window

It’s a glorious place from the old-fashioned front screen door to the tile floor to the woodwork, glazed windows and rows of vintage post office boxes.

Garden City post office, sign on door

Garden City post office, arch above door

Garden City post office, flowers by

THERE’S ONE MORE THING you should know about Garden City. Ten men, who “went on to be significant contributors to modern day industry giants like Piper, Jaffray, Archer Daniels Midland and GlaxoSmithKline,” once called Garden City home, according to promotional info for the book, The Remarkable Men of Garden City by E. Winston Grundmeier.

How’s that for small-town success?

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Zip code 56046 July 26, 2011

THE NEXT TIME YOU’RE traveling Interstate 35 south of Owatonna, instead of whipping by the Hope exit at 70 mph, pull off the freeway and check out this unincorporated community of 120 residents, probably best-known outside of Steele County for Hope Creamery butter.

Unless my husband and I missed the signage, we never saw a sign marking the creamery and simply guessed that the butter-making operation is housed in an old brick creamery on the edge of town next to a farm.

But we discovered several other places of interest after parking our car along the one main road that cuts through Hope. Yes, you need to park your vehicle, get out and walk, rather than simply driving through town thinking, “There’s nothing here.”

You would be wrong, oh, so wrong.

First point of interest: 56046. That would be the Hope Post Office. With a street front facade resembling the general stores of yesteryear or perhaps a building from a western movie set, this old-style structure charms.

The Hope Post Office sits along Main Street. The elevator complex in the background is just across the train tracks.

Take in the details: the red and blue bench, the double front doors, the rock out front, the welcoming porch...

Even the lettering on the front window has old-style charm.

Maybe it doesn’t take much to impress me, but I appreciate buildings with character. I quickly determined that the post office serves as Hope’s community hub. I pulled open the screen door and stepped inside a closet of an entry, the door to the post office to my left, the door to a gift shop to my right. Smack in front of me, I found business cards and signs, church festival notices and other information tacked onto a bulletin board. A clutch of rubber-banded newspapers lay on the floor in front of the post office door.

The community bulletin board inside the post office entry.

A clutch of bundled newspapers outside the locked interior post office door.

From inside the post office entry, a view across the street of the bank and an antique store.

Since I was there on a Sunday afternoon, I had to settle for standing outside, peering through the large, cracked and taped front windows to view the customer service area that is smaller than most bathrooms. But it serves the purpose and I’m sure Hope folks are happy to still have their post office.

I always figure once a community loses its school, its post office and its bank, well then, you may as well close up the town. So far, Hope has only lost its school.

Today the U.S. Postal Service releases a list of 3,600-plus post offices under consideration for possible closure in a cost-cutting effort. I hope Hope is not among them.

Post office hours are listed on a cracked and taped front window.

CHECK BACK FOR MORE posts out of Hope and other area communities I recently visited while on a Sunday afternoon drive. It’s my philosophy that most of us are missing out on the treasures of small-town U.S.A. because we fail to get off the freeways, park our vehicles on Main Street and explore. Either that or we’re “too busy” to slow down and notice the details worth noticing in our small towns.

If anyone knows about the history of the Hope Post Office, submit a comment. I would like to learn more about this building.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling