Cottage is legacy of Bert Skinner

Published 10:06 am Thursday, July 19, 2012

If one were to ask native Albert Leans, what is the lasting legacy of Bert Skinner, many would say the Skinner Chamberlain Building which became Herberger’s and now is Brick Furniture. For me, it would be Edgewater Park. Mr. Skinner purchased the land nearly 100 years ago and later sold it to the city at his cost. He was truly a man of action and a man of vision. We all benefit from this man’s wonderful action.

As the head of the park board, he had a plan for this land that took him 10 years to fulfill. Few will remember when Mr. Kroessin’s house on this property was deconstructed, became the park’s first picnic shelter and remains the basis for the cottage there today. What was then known as Edgewater Beach Cottage opened in May of 1929. At that time it became a popular gathering place and offered luncheon parties and locally produced food and desert items.

Today, the cottage remains one of the most pleasant meeting places in Albert Lea for small gatherings of 20 to 75 people. Nearly every long-term resident of the city has attended birthdays, church group meetings, company picnics, family reunions and such at this beautiful cottage. Like the new shelter, it offers a beautiful lake view and play structure with an adjacent picnic pavilion. Unlike the newly constructed shelter, it offers so much more. The cottage is shaded by tall trees, has an outdoor deck, offers intimacy and a sense of history. Unlike the new shelter, you can actually talk with someone across the table without having to go outside to be understood.

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Unfortunately, the park board has deemed that this structure is no longer needed and it wishes to tear it down, per the recommendation of the city inspection department. History and utility be damned. Economics seems to drive most decisions nowadays. We beg to differ. This historic place can be saved for future generations, and we plan to do everything in our power to restore and save this landmark.

Money, labor and time will be required, but we’re convinced that our community will step up to the plate. If you agree and are willing to help, I urge you to contact any of the following to lend assistance. Those spearheading the challenge are: Tony Trow, Kim Hanson, councilors Larry Baker and Larry Anderson, John Severtson, Bob Goldman, Dean Johnson, John Murray, Jim Broberg or you can also contact Jay Hutchinson at the Parks Department or Chad Adams at the Albert Lea City Hall. The city has agreed to give us some time to plan the restoration and obtain necessary financing. However, we don’t have forever. Please help.


Tony Trow

Albert Lea