Seeing History; Austin natives produce pictorial book on Austin

Dawn Taylor along with Gary Culton have put together “Chauncey’s Place 1854-2014: A Pictorial History of Austin Minnesota” over the past two and a half years. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Dawn Taylor along with Gary Culton have put together “Chauncey’s Place 1854-2014: A Pictorial History of Austin Minnesota” over the past two and a half years. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Imagine what Austin was like 50 years ago. How about 100 years ago?

For all the changes that have come to the city of Austin, people can still see what once was a part of the community through pictures of the times. Two Austin natives have collected many of those pictures to give a sense of what landmarks and businesses have come and gone in Austin over the years.

Dawn Taylor and Gary Culton have put together “Chauncey’s Place 1854-2014: A Pictorial History of Austin Minnesota” over the past two and a half years.

IMG_1030“It’s nice to know these places exist, and they have existed as these places for years,” Taylor said. “And will continue to exist.”

The book stemmed from a Facebook group Taylor runs for Austin natives. She loves to post random photos of Austin’s past over the years, but didn’t think much it until people started to ask about the history behind the pictures.

That’s when she partnered with Culton, who produced a seven-minute music video and accompanying music for photos featured in the 158-page book.

“Chauncey’s Place” features photos and information from almost every aspect of Austin, from Kenny’s Oak Grill about 50 years ago to the old sign above Top Ten Nails, which used to be Austin Drug. Taylor spent many hours looking for information on local mainstays such as The Tendermaid.

There’s a little history on plenty of Austin landmarks, including everyone’s favorite bovine, Buffy the Cow.

“Just to see how buildings have changed, what businesses have changed since I was growing up here,” Taylor said.

The book also includes what Taylor says is the most complete biography on Chauncey Leverich, the town’s founder, thus far. Leverich settled in the area in 1853 and ended up buying the claims to the area from Austin Nichols, the city’s namesake.

Taylor and Culton finished the book last month and have already taken orders for several copies. Taylor hopes to make the book available at area stores and is also working with Austin Public Schools to ensure each student will get a copy of the book, so young residents can get an idea about the community they live in.

“That book is going to outlive all of us,” Taylor said.

There are several copies of the book available at www.lulu.com/spotlight/compwhiz3002. A softcover book sells for $19.95, a color copy of the softcover sells for $24.95, and a hardcover coffee table book sells for $105. Taylor will hold a book signing at 5:30 p.m. June 2 at the Austin Public Library.

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