A.L.’s mystery street light
Published 10:00 am Saturday, July 16, 2011
For at least three decades an odd light fixture which may look like a large letter Y with two arms has been at the corner of South Broadway Avenue and Pearl Street. On each of the arms is an attachment that once contained long fluorescent bulbs.
This particular light is not a part of the city’s street light system. At the present time it stands alone on a corner lot that’s empty except for parked cars from Monday through Friday.
Some people have suggested that this particular light fixture was part of service stations and auto-related businesses once located at the corner. This is based on the fact that a gasoline station was built at this corner around 1910 by Dr. A.W. Watland as part of the new Motor Inn Co. In later years the corner became the location for the Broadway Service Station, followed by a business operated by Joe Patton.
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Just after World War II, this place became Dolan Motor Sales. The owner was Mark “Shanty” Dolan, the manager of the Albert Lea Packers baseball team. A listing in the city directory said the Dolan firm was a dealer for Kaiser and Frazer automobiles, tires and repairs and operated a gas station.
As a Mobilgas station, the operators had the names of Ackland, Dahl, Larry’s (Neilsen), Hershey and Uptown. After 1980 the place became Vosburgh Machine and Parts, Ace Body and Sales and finally Evenson Auto Repair. Some time during those later years the present light fixture was installed.
Yet, two photos in the archives of the Freeborn County Historical Museum don’t show this particular fixture at the corner in 1941. And that’s part of the mystery. Just when was this fixture put in place?
One possible answer can be found in the files of the Albert Lea Inspection Department. In 1980 a portion of the building and property at 422 S. Broadway Ave. was remodeled. Those same files also show the service station and garage structure was demolished in 1997, except for the present Y-shaped light fixture.