Focusing on building details

Published 9:50 am Saturday, April 9, 2011

Graphic by Kathy Johnson/Albert Lea Tribune

There was an era when fancy details were added to the fronts of many buildings in Albert Lea’s central business district.

Some of these added details once had real meaning. For example, there are several ice cream cones etched onto the upper portion of the building at 130 N. Broadway Ave. This structure was built in 1919 for the Morlea Dairy. During the years since then these obvious cones have been the focus for many photos.

There are also many more added features on local buildings that can be considered to be just decorations. On the front of the historical portion of the 1887 Freeborn County Courthouse facing South Broadway Avenue are two stone faces. Just who this man and woman are supposed to be is still a local mystery. On other buildings there are wreaths and other designs etched in stone, plus fancy details with the brickwork.

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Photos of these building details have been taken by several local photographers through the years. On several occasions those photos have been used for Tribune articles and even for a “guess where this is” feature page in a Progress Edition.

One of those photographers was the late Bidney Bergie. From 1939 to 2002, with the exception of a few years for military service during World War II, the Interstate Power Company employee and local history expert used his personal camera to take photos of many area features, including those distinctive building details. The films were processed in the dark room at his home and added to a very extensive photo and slide collection.

Here are five of those sometimes overlooked building details from the Bergie files.

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