Men documenting tales of downtown Albert LeaPublished 9:52am Friday, April 20, 2012
Two Albert Lea men have begun a project to document the history of downtown Albert Lea.
As part of a documentary titled “Buildings of Broadway,” Brent Erickson and Ryan Heath are asking for any photos and stories people may have of the downtown.
“Downtown used to be where all the action was, where the businesses were,” Erickson said. “We’re trying to bring light back to what downtown used to mean to Albert Lea.”
The men have partnered with the Freeborn County Historical Society to apply for a Legacy Amendment grant through the Minnesota Historical Society for the equipment for the project.
Erickson said they hope to hear back about the grant in the next week.
In the meantime, Erickson said, he has begun researching various downtown buildings from the 1940s to the late 1990s.
He and Heath have also begun to explore a few of the buildings.
Erickson said he was born and raised in Albert Lea, but at one point moved away and then moved back.
He recalled how his father used to work in the building now housed by Christian & Peterson Law Firm.
Heath in January opened a gallery in part of the Shoff Building and he has found that not many younger people know the history of the downtown.
“I want to try and help people our age or younger realize they do have a history in our town,” Heath said.
The two men want to get as many stories documented as possible, from cruising Broadway to staying overnight at the Hotel Albert to seeing a film at the Rivoli Theater, and hope to talk with community members who are willing to share their stories.
They also plan to take photos of the downtown in the past and compare it to photos of the downtown today.
Heath said the video will be about an hour long and is expected to be completed by summer.
“I think it’s going to be a great project,” he said. “Everybody that we’ve talked to is excited about it. It’s a great project to involve people, to inform people.”
Photos and stories can be emailed to email@example.com.