Project hopes to revive Howard Lake's city hall

40 miles straight west of the Twin Cities, sits an old railroad town known today as Howard Lake.

“Ultimately they needed a spot for a depot to drop off mail and pick off water for the steam locomotives,” said city administrator Nick Haggenmiller.

Not long after its founding in 1878, advances in rail transit meant there was no longer a need for trains to stop in Howard Lake and eventually the future of the town was in question.

“When the original city hall burned down in 1902, they questioned what or even if to replace this building,” said Haggenmiller. “For a while they debated whether to take the insurance proceeds and just divvy it up to the residents and dissolve the city.”

After much discussion, the residents ultimately decided to rebuild city hall. The building re-opened in 1906 and is the same building that stands today.

Over the years, the building has served many purposes.

“It’s been a post office, a library, a magistrate, city hall, fire hall, ambulance by horse—that’s a pretty fun one,” he said. “Today, it’s the municipal liquor store.”

The majority of the building has been unoccupied since 1979, but now a $1.6 million restoration project hopes to revive the space.

“We’re really looking forward to bringing people downtown to enjoy our space.”

Howard Lake’s historic city hall is listed on the national register of historic places.