BOWLUS, Minn. (KMSP) - In the tiny town of Bowlus, MN Jordie Stay is on a mission to preserve a piece of the past.
"The building appears to be in good condition,” Stay said of the town’s old landmark. "These are the jail windows."
The building Stay is trying to preserve was built during the Great Depression as part of Works Progress Administration.
"Times were tough in depression. They used what they could. Stones were plentiful. The structure is still pretty good. The roof isn't. Needs a lot of TLC."
The beloved building was built in the 1930s in this mostly Polish and German community to hold the town's jail. Over the years it served as the village hall and in the 1950s became home to the fire department.
These days it’s only used to store a first responder rig, which will soon move to the fire department's new digs, and some fear the town will tear the building down because it would cost too much to keep up.
"I think as you walk through town, little by little, buildings are going to go away that tell us what the past was. This would be an important piece that would be gone and people wouldn't know anything about the history of this town," said Jan Lasar who along with Stay helped form a group called Friends of the Firehall.
Marci Selinski's father-in-law helped build the hall when he was trying to support 12 children during the depression – a time any job was a godsend. She'd like to see the building used to help the thousands of visitors who come through town on the Soo Line bike trail learn there's more to Bowlus than just being the home of 1970s Olympic boxer Duane Bobick.
"Because it’s a landmark, because it’s the history of Bowlus maybe. I don't think it needs too much fixing up. It would be nice if they could turn it into a museum or something,” Bobick said.
In the big scheme of things Stay knows losing a one story building in a small town wouldn't be the end of the world, but she believes saving a little bit of history will help Bowlus have a better future.
"I would like to see it stay as a community building. Be used by the people in Bowlus and keep these little towns going."