Johnson: Finding treasures

Published 5:14 pm Saturday, August 16, 2014

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was taking a trip to the Minnesota Historical Society Gale Family Library.  A great friend of the HHH, Belita Schindler, discovered a wonderful treasure while researching architect Harry Wild Jones.  She found that many of his architectural drawings had been preserved in the library and there were nine drawings pertaining to the George A. Hormel home and the YWCA in Austin.

Belita and I were both eager to view the historic sketches, so we visited the MHS library and were awed by what we saw. Unfortunately the drawings were not dated, but the official Harry Wild Jones architectural stamp is clearly evident on all of them.

A year older than George A., Harry Jones had quite a prolific architectural career.  After completing his architectural training at MIT, Jones and his wife, Bertha, moved to Minneapolis in 1883, thus beginning a journey that led to the design of many Twin Cities landmarks that still exist today.  He is credited with designing the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel and Butler Square in Minneapolis and was involved with the development of the “Tangletown” neighborhood in St. Paul. Jones’ designs were built in 21 states and two foreign countries.

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In 1901, Jones was at the height of his design career. The Hormels contracted him to remodel the home they had just purchased. His design raised the front porch to two-stories supported by ionic pillars, added three ornate fireplaces, leaded-glass windows, Tiffany light fixtures and European woodwork.

They apparently stayed in contact with Jones because one of the drawings depicts an addition to the YWCA that must have been created between the time the Hormels donated their home in 1927 and Jones’ death in 1935. The Hormels did provide for an addition to the Carriage House in 1939 for the Girl Scouts organization, but it was not Jones’ design which was much grander.

Ironically, Jones’ proposed plan included a banquet hall that would have sat on the exact location of the modern day banquet center. Another drawing exists showing a two-story banquet hall that would have been built in the middle of the current Peace Garden. Neither of these designs came to fruition in George Hormel’s day, but nearly 90 years later a fantastic vision came to life.

There is more to tell on the Jones connection to the Hormels and to Austin. Stay tuned. …

Speaking In Tongues

2:30 p.m., Monday

Music workshop for area youth of all ages.

There will be a demonstration of the Chinese Pipa and the unique music of Ghana. Children and parents alike will enjoy this interactive workshop that will bring new cultures and new instruments to life.

6:30 p.m.

Free Peace Garden Concert led by percussionist, Marc Anderson (an Austin native). The group of four will bring a unique cultural engagement to the community. The musicians play distinctly different instruments from their native countries, and the sound combines for an amazing experience. Funding for these events is partially made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


Art and a Community

10 a.m., Tuesday

Free Social Concerns presented by Bruce Loeschen. Hear about Bruce’s experience with creating city montages and his process for developing the walking tour of Austin.

Following the presentation, a group will be taken on the Walking Tour of Austin. Cost for the tour is $5, with the proceeds benefiting the ArtWorks Center and Festival and the Mower County Historical Society.

Please call 507-433-4243 to sign up for the presentation and/or tour.