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Your Town Tuesday: The Unique People, Places, and Things of Albany

ALBANY – This week on Your Town Tuesday we are in Albany. Over the last year Albany has restored and renovated its main street along with its downtown buildings. Tom Schneider, Albany’s City Clerk Administrator, says there is great community pride in its downtown.

“We have a very unique main street because of our old buildings. and it’s kind of nice to see how things have spiraled from the outside store front improvements to the inside.”

The architecture and old look of downtown gives it a vibe that has driven a few stores to match the interior of their stores to the original look the exterior of their buildings have.

"We’ve had the actual grandchildren, great grandchildren that ran the businesses who have come in and say ‘Oh, I remember being upstairs in a little play pen so I wouldn’t jump off the side.’"

Kitty Eickhoff, owner of Country Floral and Gifts, says it’s that history that makes it important to keep the buildings looking like they did when they were originally built.

Original Grain Chute Shelves
Photo: Joshua Akkerman

Albany Country Floral and Gifts is in the same building that the original general store was in. Eickhoff has torn down some walls to restore the interior to what it looked like when it was the general store. She was also able to find and put back in some of the original shelving. Some of those shelves still have the chutes that carried grain into the building.

Eickhoff enjoys being in downtown Albany saying it is a place that everyone can enjoy.

We seem to have people walking up and down, and the bikes off the bike trail. We try to make it, when you come in the door we don’t have big signs that say children not welcome un-escorted. It’s a family atmosphere and we try to keep it that way.

 

" I thought it just had so much potential. "Just up the street I found Jack Evens, owner of Ludwig Photography and the Lake Wobegon Trail Gallery. He is the owner of the building that was originally the town’s bank. He is now turning it into his new gallery.

Original Stained Glass Windows
Photo: Joshua Akkerman

Evens says that restoring the interior has been a fun project to work on. But restoring this history has been what Evens calls a process.

“I came inside and saw some of the different areas around from the stain glass doors that were up in the president’s office, to the walk in vaults of the bank, to being able to bring the walls back down to the original brick walls was to a me a real plus because it just added a lot of character to the building.”

But restoring this history has been what Evens calls a process. Evens had to tear down the suspended ceiling, the interior walls, and finally remove plaster that was over the original brickwork. He now says the room feels comfortable.

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Both Evens and Eickhoff say it is important to keep the history of these buildings alive.

Eickhoff says,

If you don’t have pride in your main street and you don’t work at keeping foot traffic coming up and down it. No one else is going to.

Evens says,

I think it means everything because the old buildings are the character of the town. It’s the heart of where everything began, and people just like to see, especially if you bring a building from something that is modernized to what it had originally been. I think that means a lot. It makes for a more thriving downtown district and it keeps business going.

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