Friday, September 4, 2009

About the former Crookston Paint & Glass building project

After Crookston Paint & Glass had occupied the building for 60 years, and the elderly owner, Edith Krohn, passed away, the building was vacant and listed for sale. Estimates on the sagging east wall of the basement were gathered for the Realtor. They ranged from $6,000 to over $30,000. The heir to the estate decided to donate the building to the Prairie Skyline Foundation, Inc. in Jan 07. The board worked on a proposal to the Minnesota Historical Society and in July of 08 was awarded a grant of $6,000 to be matched by local donations and labor to brace the wall to prevent it from caving in. Our contractor, Ron Geray, started building a new plate for the bracing when the bowed wall caved.

Luckily, we had put in a new beam before the cave-in, saving the entire east wall. Work halted while we figured out what to do next as $6,000 wasn’t going to be enough to do the entire project now. Then, the building inspector required us to get an engineer’s drawing of the new bracing wall and later he asked for an engineer’s drawing of the patch to the wall. Then Rick Nelson donated labor toward the building of a new wall of green treated lumber to stabilize the rest of the east wall.

Last November, the building was rented by “Happenstance” store owner, June Johnson, who did a remarkable job with fresh paint. She opened her store in December but was shut down in six days by the Crookston Building Inspector who was concerned about safety of her business in the West half of the 2-part building. The first problem was how to heat the basement enough to chip out the bottom layers of brick. Then Wayne Grove donated over $100 of time to channel heat to the problem area, Glen Torkelson lent us his heater, and volunteers were able to clean up the site enough to see that the only way the hole could be patched in is by doing the bottom 2/3 from the inside and the top 2/3 from the outside.

Dan Bertils donated his skill to carefully excavate from the vacant lot next door creating a perfect space to work in and without causing any more of a cave in than was already there. There was an old cement base of the building that was there before the vacant lot and tons of bricks to be hauled out, which he helped us with as well. Hebron Brick of Grand Forks donated over $400 of concrete block and mortar mix to the project. More wet weather caused the “hole in the wall” to grow larger and volunteers hauled out more brick and hauled masonry block and cement in on two chilly days in December.

But the Foundation hadn’t received enough donations to hire the work done and nobody wanted to do it as the job site appeared somewhat dangerous. Luckily, in March, the Foundation heard good news from Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart Corporate Giving gave us $1,000 to what we now called “the hole in the wall project.” We asked Ron Geray from Mahnomen to come back and do the masonry patch and him and his son did it quickly. Dan Bertils came back to push the dirt back in the hole. Although, we have much more to do on this building, hopefully, we look forward to the new store, Happenstance, opening for the second time this time this September.

There are still bills to pay, the problems with the front stucco falling off, and proper drainage away from the building yet to do. Those who like to work on buildings or want to serve as clerks in a proposed thrift store to benefit Prairie Skyline Foundation’s efforts are encouraged to volunteer with the Foundation by calling Kay Hegge at 218.289.1246 anytime.

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