20th Century, Architecture, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Sullivan’s Owatonna Bank Opens

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1908
Master architect Louis Sullivan’s National Farmers’ Bank, perhaps the most famous small-town bank in the U.S., graces the corner of Broadway and Cedar streets in downtown Owatonna.

One of the first American architects to break free from the influence of revival styles, Louis Sullivan completed a series of eight banks in small Midwest towns during the last years of his career. The National Farmers’ Bank of Owatonna is arguably the best.*

In 1896, in an article in “Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine”, Mr. Sullivan wrote the following:
“It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human, and all things super-human, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expression, that form ever follows function. This is the law.”

It makes me curious why an architect of his stature would embrace the job of designing a small town bank. Just look at this track record. He is called both the “father of modernism” and the “father of skyscrapers”. He is one of the triumvirate of great American architects alongside Frank Lloyd Wright and Henry Hobson Richardson.**
What would behoove him to design a small town bank in Minnesota?

A clue could be that he was considered to be a hard drinker and past his prime by the time he accepted this task. His client, Carl Bennett, had also died to his dream of being a conductor to attend family duties running the bank. Perhaps this serendipitous meeting fulfilled a need for both men to create again. It’s success does seem to be a merger of each as it is labelled as a “Symphony of Color”.***

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Merciful Messiah, thank You for their dreams. Thank You that, though deferred, they created an everyday temple to commerce that stills sings! Thank You for positioning their relationship and life circumstances to better enable them to savor the moment.

Will You continue to bless the artist and architects of Minnesota? Will You give them the talent that bedazzles the routines of our lives? Will You give our lives form that follows function, and let us trust that that’s enough?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Sullivan
***http://news.minnesota.publicradio.org/features/200002/28_buzenbergb_owatonna/

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20th Century, Architecture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Transportation

Aerial Bridge Completed

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Mar 24, 1905
The Aerial Bridge is completed in Duluth. The bridge permits land traffic to cross the ship canal without interfering with the ships that pass in and out of the harbor. A lift bridge replaces the aerial system in 1930.*

Aerial Bridge in Duluth began as a transporter bridge. Imagine an arch or high structure that spans a harbor that a segment of the bridge is suspended from on rails. Traffic boards on one side, and this segment of bridge rolls across to the other. When the segment reaches its destination, about 2/3rds of the channel is left open for harbor traffic. Quite ingenious!

Thank You for the mind of Thomas F. Mc Gilvray. How much pleasure You must take in the soul of an architect! A character that both delights in the disciplines of education, and in the revelation of beauty wherever it may be found or felt! A massive steel bulwark spanning a harbor may not immediately bring to mind the word ’beautiful’. Yet, to the residents needing to cross the harbor, it was tremendously useful. Is there a word for ‘useful beauty’? I’m sure there is in Your vocabulary, and that is what I praise You for today!

Furthermore, thank you for the means to connect cultures! In this context, the physical barrier of the harbor could make it difficult for one to know and trade with neighbors just across the water. Thank you that this physical structure opened the doors of residents of Superior, WI. and Duluth, MN. to know each other, as well as the myriad of cultures of sailors from around the world. Will You bless this moment of March 24, 1905, and create a perpetual heritage of blessing in this Harbor? As You have promised…”the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:8 NIV
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transporter_bridge

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

 

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20th Century, Architecture, Environment, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Natural Disaster, Transportation, Weather

High Bridge Blown Down

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Aug 20, 1904
A tornado traveling through Waconia, Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Stillwater leaves fourteen people dead and causes property losses of $1.5 million. The same storm blows down the High Bridge in Saint Paul, where winds reach 110 miles per hour, the fastest recorded wind speed in the metropolitan area at the time. The storm also has the lowest measured barometric pressure (23 inches) of any tornado, according to Snowden Dwight Flora, author of Tornadoes of the United States.*

Every decision has a consequence. As the ancient prophet Hosea once said, ‘those who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind’. But how did regular citizens of these cities ‘sow the wind’? Did they, or was this storm just a normal occurrence that is necessary to the health of the atmosphere and environment?
This I know of human nature, when tragedy strikes, many will attempt to deflect the awfulness of the event through blame. We don’t have the inner mechanisms to deal with great pain, and so we often try to externalize it. Psychologists call this process transference.

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Lord, what were the objects of transference in this event? Let me start with how we blame You, after all, this is an ‘act of God’. Will You forgive any residents of Waconia, St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Stillwater who placed the blame for this event on You? Will You forgive any judgments made on Your character? Will You forgive those who viewed this storm as an offense against them in person and property, and in turn held a grudge against you?
Lord, we blame others! For example, “The High Bridge wouldn’t fall if it was designed better? The engineers and architects are to blame!” For the folks of these cities that fall into this category; will You forgive them those judgments of others?
Will You forgive our bifurcated motives? On one hand we love technology. We love what is new, innovative, and ground-breaking. Simultaneously, we cling to the familiar, and many of us have deep-rooted skepticism of new ideas. Will You forgive the judgments made of those who offer us new ideas? Will You forgive the wrath felt by those who dreamt, designed, labored, and finished this High Bridge?
Will You forgive those who blamed themselves for this hardship? We place ourselves on trial in the courts of minds and give harsh sentences for imperfections. Will You forgive those who blamed themselves for lost crops, fallen barns, loss of horses and animals, and loss of human life?
Lord, You are just. You are truly the only right judge because You know our heart, our history, our thoughts, our motives, and our actions. Yet, You are merciful to us, and often reveal the fragility of our inner life and its immaturity in the most gentle and gracious way possible.
You are a good dad. We do not criticize our toddlers when they make a bridge with blocks and it crashes. We praise them, and encourage their imaginations. Will You make us a people that loves valiant failures and Pyrrhic victories as much as you do?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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19th Century, Architecture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, State Government

Capitol Construction 1898

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Alexander Ramsey, the 83-year-old first territorial governor of Minnesota, lays the cornerstone of the new state capitol. The building is completed after eight years of construction and a cost of $4.5 million. It is occupied in 1905.

The building has been designed by local-architect-made-good Cass Gilbert, who also laid out the U of M campus and will draw up tall buildings in New York City.*

Capitol buildings are symbols. They are designed for utility, but also to exude the authority and permanence of the state, the government, and the people they represent. Gilbert saw us as inheritor’s of Greek and Roman forms of representational government, and designed a capitol that reflected those influences.

It is easy to imagine that the farmers and loggers looked up and wondered, “What does all that marble have to do with lumber? The rotunda looks like a grain silo, but nothing is in it!?!” ‘Permanence’ to Gilbert may have looked like ‘opulence’ to citizens of the North Star state. Most were still recovering from the Panic of 1893.

“The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893.[1] Similar to the Panic of 1873, it was marked by the collapse of railroad overbuilding and shaky railroad financing, resulting in a series of bank failures. Compounding market overbuilding and the railroad bubble was a run on the gold supply. The Panic of ’93 was the worst economic depression the United States had ever experienced at the time.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1893

In any regard, Lord, will You honor the heart of the architect Gilbert? Will You bless those Minnesotans’ who follow in his passion for designing our buildings and structures? Will You bless the workmen who provided their excellent labor and skill to create such a building?

Lord, will You forgive any judgments of the cost of the building during a time of economic struggle? Will You forgive the politicians’ their excesses and pride in their workplace? Like the silo analogy, will You fill the rotunda with Your substance and vision, and not just a grandiose view?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Delve into the life of Cass Gilbert. http://www.cassgilbertsociety.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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19th Century, Architecture, Business, History, Intercession, Jesus, Labor, Minnesota

James J. Hill House Completed

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1891
Rugged stone, massive scale, fine detail, and ingenious mechanical systems recall the powerful presence of James J. Hill, builder of the Great Northern Railway. Completed in 1891, the red sandstone residence was the setting of the public and private lives of the Hill family.*

Lord, what is the importance of home construction in Your economy? Albeit this is an impressive home, but why does it matter now? Will You guide my heart and mind toward Your thoughts on the matter?

Commencement thought; our home reflects our character. Mr. Hill spent much his life on the epic tasks of building a railway. His home reflects a willingness to solve difficult problems: custom shaping stones, miles of board feet of trim, and making a castle comfortable enough to live in Minnesota’s weather extremes.

So I want to bless the heritage of Mr. Hill’s patience, long-range planning, and tenacity to face both expected and unexpected problems.I want to bless the myriad of workmen who truly put their sweat and soul into their trades to make this home exceptional. Will You bless them and all their generations of tradesmen in the present? Will You help us view the trades as an act of worship?

I’m reminded that my Messiah chose to be a carpenter, and apprenticed under His earthly father. (Joseph) Will You help us, especially men, see that worship is not just obscure and ancient songs and rituals in a church, but in fitting pipes, framing walls, running electrical lines, and every kind of working with our hands? May all who labor in skills that go unseen and unnoticed be blessed this day in Jesus’ name! May You honor those who silently honor You!

Another idea that attaches to character; we can build to serve a function, or build to impress others. Lord, I will not condemn this man for the pursuit of greatness. I think You get the credit when we succeed at exceptional endeavours, I think a fractal of the light of Your character shines through any human who dares to do what they love.

But Lord hear this prayer, our lives are often like homes! We build for ‘curb appeal’. We erect lovely facades. We spend considerable time and effort on the way things look to the detriment of the way things are. We already possess the favor of the King of the Universe, but how we work for the favor of our fellow human beings?!

Will You forgive James J. Hill the past sins of empire building? Will You release his heritage, our state, and even the ground that those objects of empire occupy from separations past, present, and future? Will You forgive us for the empire building in our hearts? Will You forgive us for maintaining facades we build to our own greatness? Will You help us humbly acknowledge the efforts others have spent in our successes? Father, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Counselor, have mercy!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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19th Century, Architecture, Civics, History, Industry, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Industrial Exposition

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1886
The Mill City answers St. Paul’s State Fair with the Minneapolis Industrial Exposition. Despite elaborate attractions and the latest wares of 800 exhibitors, the exposition can’t compete with the fair and closes its doors in 1893.*

“The idea for an exposition in Minneapolis arose in August 1885, when it became known that St. Paul had secured the permanent home of the Minnesota State Fair. Prominent citizens of Minneapolis such as Minneapolis Tribune owner Alden Blethen felt slighted, and an open meeting was called to gauge public support for an annual Minneapolis industrial fair, or exposition, to rival St. Paul’s agricultural one.”**

Lord, we are competitors. Competition is not a sin, but the envy or covetousness that often accompany it leads to disunity or complete breaks in relationship. What do You want to reveal?
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have had friendly rivalries that go far into our history. Will You forgive, first, the jokes, speech, and written words that have been used to put down the ‘other’ Twin City? Will You forgive the heart it reveals, one of mockery and pride?
How many actions have resulted in our heritage because one “prominent citizen” felt slighted? There is nothing wrong with a human being of any status in society taking leadership according to their conscience. However, if the attitude of civic pride, in this case personified by Alden Blethen was an offense to You, will You forgive us? Will You forgive us our pettiness over another’s blessing? Will you help us; “seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Jeremiah 29:7 ***
You have ideas for both of these places that we have not considered. What are they? Will you replace the rivalry of Minneapolis and St. Paul stemming from the Industrial Exposition of 1886 with blessing? Will You download into us a mindset that rejoices at the success of the other? Will You bless us with the kind of competition that brings virtue and excellence?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Learn about the short life of this huge structure?
http://www.mnopedia.org/structure/industrial-exposition-building-minneapolis

***http://biblehub.com/jeremiah/29-7.htm

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19th Century, Architecture, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Transportation

Stone Arch Bridge Opens

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Nov 23, 1883
The Stone Arch Bridge spans the Mississippi below St. Anthony Falls. Once called “Jim Hill’s Folly,” the bridge provides a crossing for trains and becomes a Minneapolis landmark.*

First, I need to confess my bias against the railroad barons based on my reading in college. The rails often made choices that yielded pain for the Midwestern farmer, manufacturer, or anyone who wasn’t in partnership with them. (They would have sweetheart deals for themselves and their allies, and charge exorbitant prices to the farmer whose harvest would spoil if they waited for a better deal. I do not abhor competition, but bristle when I sense oligarchic or monopolistic control.)
I find myself harboring bitterness towards them, and towards this spirit in man that is willing to use the law in SELF service. I confess my judgements and bitterness towards James Hill, and the way the railroads were constructed in this state and nation. Lord, quite honestly, I hate the heritage of price fixing and theft! I abhor the curse that these judgments have put on our state, its’ people, our freedom of travel, and all lands that were granted, bought or stolen by the railroad lines. I despise how the rails withheld the good that they could have chosen to perform for their fellow man, and still yielded a generous profit!
Yet, I am a man of mixed motives just like them. I withhold from doing the good I know I can do, and sin against my brother in my heart. I judge them. I think evil of them in my thoughts. I harbor resentment. Lord Jesus, King of the Universe, have mercy on me a sinner for my judgments!
Lord Jesus, it is You who taught the fish to swim, the rabbit to hop, the horse to run, the people to walk, the wind to blow, the moon to orbit, and sent us the sunshine we feel today from millions of light years’ away! You are the Master of All Transportation! Will You forgive the sins by James J. Hill against Minnesotans’? Will you forgive our collective counter judgements of him, his companies, and generations? Will You bring blessing to every rail, every piece of land, every train, every rail employee, and all the cargo that enters or exits this state of Minnesota? Will You profoundly bless the Stone Arch bridge, and redeem its’ symbolism? Will You be the bridge and span this rift? Amen!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**Read more about these lovely arches? https://www.minneapolisparks.org/parks__destinations/historical_sites/stone_arch_bridge/#group_2_150339

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