Free Idea: Main Street Minnesota

You know what I don’t think we have enough of on Huge, improbable, thought-provoking ideas.

We’re all familiar with Nicollet Ave and a lot of the buildings that reside on it. It’s the Main Street of Minneapolis, representing a lot of what’s great about both cities. However, that’s Minneapolis; it’s not all of Minnesota and as we’ve seen in the recent political conjecture, sometimes the cities get a little too much focus leaving outstate in the dust.

So I’ve come up with a plan that combines two of the best parts of Minnesota: its rural heritage and its urban character.

There are tons of little towns in Minnesota, some you’ve heard of, some you haven’t. But the fate of these little towns (in my opinion) is clear; they won’t make it to the end of the century.

We can’t pin exactly how cities thrive or die, but we know they come and go often leaving behind ghostly reminders of their existence. Sometimes those are nothing more than ruins, sometimes they seem to be perfectly good buildings. The latter is what I want to focus on.

Vernon Center is a city of about 330 people located just south of Mankato. This city has very little hope of surviving unless Mankato simply gobbles it up in its quest to sprawl. However, this doesn’t mean that Vernon Center is worthless or that it should simply be forgotten. In fact, you can see on Google Maps that it has at least one quaint, charming main street building.

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This is where Minnesota Main Street (Editor’s note: this Free Idea is not part of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota’s Main Street Program) comes into play.

The idea is that you would pick a city, in this case I would say Mankato, and find a street worth redeveloping (we have plenty of them.) As Vernon Center continues to decline a group of volunteers (individuals and companies alike) fueled by federal/state aid and donations, comes to Vernon Center, buys the building and it is  moved to the aforementioned street in Mankato. The building is then brought up to code and marked with a plaque summarizing its history.

These “Main Streets” could pop up all over Minnesota metros homaging the smaller villages that simply went out of existence. The program would preserves history and gives us some great buildings that a lot of architects seem negligent to build.

I realize that the plan is half-baked, but hey, what’s wrong with that? Sometimes ideas are just conversation starters which end up being real plans with actionable missions.

I think it would be a cool lesson in history and a great way to recognize our forefathers who built these cities.

Matthias Leyrer

About Matthias Leyrer

Matthias Leyrer is a resident of Mankato looking to restore a fraction of its old glory. He writes about the economic, aesthetic, practical and financial issues facing the city of Mankato going Follow him @mjleyrer