Looking back: A building boom in Albert Lea

Published 11:04 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

By Linda Evenson

Photos courtesy Freeborn County Historical Museum

A century ago Albert Lea experienced growth with new businesses opening, building construction and the annexation of the New Denmark area into the city. East Clark Street saw amazing changes with the addition of five two-story brick buildings in less than a year. The completion of the Barlow building at 111 E. Clark St. provided J.C. Penney’s entrance into the community in September 1923. The 42-by-120-foot structure provided balconies at each end of the store, one for offices and cashiers and the other of ladies’ ready-to-wear department.

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The merchandise included shoes, dress goods, notions, men’s clothing and furnishings.

Other construction in 1923 included the Albert Lea State Bank, 201 S. Broadway; American Gas Machine Co.’s five-story addition; Trinity Lutheran Church, Washington Avenue; St. Theodore’s school addition; Naeve Hospital’s three-story 50-bed addition; a couple new filling stations and an addition to the grandstand at the baseball park on Clark Street. The cost of the 1923 buildings was $1,242,400. Albert Lea enjoyed a larger building boom in 1923 than any other Minnesota city of its class.