Editor's note: This article has been edited for clarity and to correct information.
On Monday, the Litchfield City Council denied a Certificate of Appropriateness by Litchfield business owner Ed Olson to repair his downtown building in a 6-1 vote with Council Member Ron Dingmann dissenting.
Bricks fell from the top of Olson’s building, located at 241 N. Sibley Ave., May 7 after a storm knocked them into the street, causing the city to put up a barricade until the safety of the structure could be determined. A section of the parapet —a protective, low wall on top of the roof — fell into itself and on the sidewalk. Olson had a contractor demolish the north parapet "due to neglect" and seal the roof. Olson’s contractor saved the bricks for future repairs.
A building owner in a local historic district must get a COA approved by the local preservation committee to work on their buildings. COAs make sure that the renovations proposed fall within historical accuracy of the building’s original character and design.
The Historic Preservation Committee recommended that the council deny Olson’s COA as the repairs would not retain its historic character and would not abide by the federal Secretary of Interiors Standards. The HPC also suggested that Olson hire a structural engineer to determine the scope of the work and the building's structural integrity.
City staff documents state the city notified the building owner multiple times to remove the hazard and fix the crack on top of the parapet —two were noted in the city staff report, once in July 2018 and January 2019. The city's civil engineer, Bolton & Menk, assessed the building’s stability in April before the parapet fell.
The Bolton & Menk condition assessment report noted that the parapet on the north side of the building is “severely deteriorated,” and “the northeast corner of the second story of building is separating from the remainder of the building.”
“The building north exterior wall is generally in poor structural condition,” the report suggests. “While the remainder of the building is still in a serviceable condition, the north wall and parapet will continue to deteriorate and are subject to failure unless actions are taken to repair the current structural deterioration and distress.”
The building’s construction dates back to 1885, and about 29 individuals have owned the building. The structure housed various businesses, including at one time a grocery store, a millinery, a department store, drug store and appliance store before Olson purchased it.
Olson has owned the building for 26 years. HPC member Kevin Hovey said the building should have been repaired years ago when the issue was first noticed. He contacted the Minnesota Historical Society Director Amy Spong who said the building should be returned to its previous condition.
“What choice do I have,” Olson said after the HPC denied his COA application and said the building must be repaired fully.
Because his building is in a historical downtown district, Olson must repair it to its original state under federal guidelines. He will receive an updated cost estimate to fully repair the building and will have to fill out another COA to be approved by the HPC. After Olson has a written opinion from a structural engineer and a plan to restore the parapet to its original state, the HPC will host an emergency meeting to reconsider his COA.
As of now, Olson has not submitted a new COA to the HPC.
Monday, May 27, is Memorial Day. It is observed on the last day of May. While Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, Memorial Day honors those who died in service to their country.
The federal holiday traces its roots to the years following the American Civil War. It was originally known as Decoration Day because families and friends decorated the graves of their loved ones.
For many years, it was observed on May 30. This changed in 1968, when Congress established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May.
On Memorial Day, the VFW Admiral Benson Post 2818 is responsible for planning the city’s observance this year. It rotates responsibilities with the Litchfield American Legion Post 104.
The Memorial Day observance will begin at 8 a.m. Monday with services for deceased members of the VFW and VFW Auxiliary at Calvary Cemetery. Next is the Memorial Day parade at 9:15 a.m. It starts on Third Street by Central Park. The parade will proceed west to Swift Avenue, then travel south on Swift Avenue to South Park. From there is the Memorial Day service at 10:15 a.m. at Litchfield Cemetery. VFW Commander James Mickelson will emcee the program. The featured speaker is Van Karg of the Disabled American Veterans. The service will be broadcast live on KFLD radio. For more information, call Gary Smith at 320-221-0440.
After that, Marine Corps League 985 will post colors at 11 a.m. at the Litchfield Opera House, 136 N. Marshall Ave. This will serve as a kickoff for the Memorial Day Great American Picnic from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Opera House. The cost is $8 for adults, $5 for children and $4 for dessert. This event is sponsored by the Meeker County Historical Society.
Memorial Day will also be observed with programs in neighboring communities.
The Brownton American Legion and its Auxiliary are hosting a Memorial Day observance at 10 a.m. Monday outside of the Brownton Community Center, 310 Second St. N. Following the program, a potluck lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. Guests are asked to bring a dish to pass. For more information, call Marcie at 320-583-6624.
The Cokato Museum, 175 Fourth St. S.W., is hosting its annual Memorial Day Open House from 9 a.m.-noon Monday. Visitors can check out the museum’s Memorial Day display and get a sneak peek at the up-and-coming exhibit featuring the history of the Cokato Corn Carnival. Refreshments will be served. Admission is free and the public is welcome. For more information, call the museum at 320-286-2427.
The Cokato American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary’s parade begins at 10:15 a.m., with a program at 10:45 a.m. in the Cokato Elementary School auditorium, 200 Fifth St. S.W.
The program is at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Hantge Funeral Chapel, 100 First St., Darwin. The keynote speaker is Don Dufner. Free balloons and flowers for all attendees. For more information, call Hantge Funeral Chapel at 320-693-8710.
A ceremony is at 9 a.m. at Dassel Cemetery. The invocation will be given by the Rev. Laurie O’Shea of Gethsemane Lutheran Church. The featured speaker is Kevin Wilson. Following the program, coffee and rolls will be served at the Dassel History Center and Ergot Museum, 901 First St. The rain location is the Dassel History Center. For more information, call Carl Wilkins, American Legion Commander Post 365, at 320-241-8469.
A Memorial Day service is at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 26, at Forest City War Memorial Park. The featured speaker is Joe Berube of Litchfield. If it rains, the service will be moved to St. Matthew’s Church in Forest City. For more information, call Gary Smith at 320-221-0440.
The Glencoe VFW Post 5102 and American Legion Post 95 are hosting a ceremony at 10 a.m. in the Glencoe-Silver Lake High School auditorium, 1825 16th St. E., Glencoe.
The Memorial Day observance is at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart High School old gym. The invocation is by the Rev. Amy Karlson. Ed Newberg, BLHS Band and Cactus Cuties will provide musical tributes. Boys and Girls State representatives will be recognized followed by the American Legion Auxiliary reading. Remembrance of departed veterans is by Dick Loftness, Gerald Kirtz, Joe Haspert, Dale Kulberg, Fran Nuytten, Loren Walter and Norman Peterson. Two members of the American Legion will be recognized for 50 years of consecutive membership. Following the program, lunch will be served by the American Legion Auxiliary.
Those who gave the last full measure of devotion will be honored by the Hutchinson American Legion Auxiliary at 2 p.m. Friday, May 24, at Harmony River Living Center.
The Hutchinson VFW Post 906 will host Hutchinson’s Memorial Day program at Veterans Park of McLeod County. The parade lineup begins at 9 a.m. on Hassan Street behind Faith Lutheran Church and formerly Landy Lodge. The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. and follows Hassan Street to Veterans Memorial Park. The program is at 10 a.m. and begins with a welcome by Commander Pete Stoltenow, VFW Post 906.
After the Pledge of Allegiance and the invocation by VFW chaplain Robert Rolander, Commander Tim Burley of American Legion Post 96 will give a tribute to veterans followed by Gary Forcier, mayor of Hutchinson.
Dedication of wreaths will be by President Dee Koepp, VFW Post 906 Auxiliary; President Diane Jankowski, American Legion Post 96 Auxiliary; and Commander Jean Reiner, DAV Auxiliary Chapter 37.
The Memorial Day address will be given by Kristopher Hoffman, a student counselor at Hutchinson High School. He served more than eight years with the Minnesota Army National Guard and was deployed in 2011-12 in support of the Iraq drawdown.
Following the speaker is the reading of the honor roll by Rolander, American Legion chaplain Dave Heidebrink and DAV chaplain Oather Martin. The Hutchinson Memorial Rifle Squad will demonstrate 13 folds of the U.S. funeral flag. The program ends with the benediction, rifle salute and taps.
Music for the program is provided by Crow River Singers. The local choral group is singing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force service songs and “Blowin’ in the Wind/America.”
In case of inclement weather, the program will move to Christ the King Lutheran Church, 1040 South Grade Road S.W., Hutchinson.
A Memorial Day observance is at 8 a.m. at the cemetery of Lake Jennie Evangelical Covenant Church, 18531 705th Ave., Dassel.
The Memorial Day program is at 9:30 a.m. at Veterans Memorial in Central Park in downtown Lester Prairie. The featured speaker is the Rev. Al Fiene of Prairie Community Church. Music is provided by Lester Prairie High School students. The rain location is the high school gym.
The Plato Memorial Day program is at 9 a.m. Monday at the Community Hall. The Glencoe High School band will provide music at the beginning of the event. The featured speaker is Third District Commander Carla Tappainer.
The American Legion Post 141 Color Guard will march at 10:45 a.m. Monday to Central Park in downtown Silver Lake. The program begins at 11 a.m.
A ceremony is at 10 a.m. Monday at the Community Center. A potluck will follow at American Legion Post 125. Bring a dish to pass.
Winsted will observe Memorial Day on Monday with a naval tribute at 9:30 a.m. at Winsted Lake followed by a 10 a.m. ceremony at City Cemetery with guest speaker Lt. Daniel Kubasch of the U.S. Coast Guard.