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Northern Bedrock works with Ely mason at Halfway Station

Keith Vandervort
Posted 10/12/17

ELY - Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps (Northern Bedrock) worked with area stone mason Mike Braun this week to repair and preserve a stone chimney on the Ranger Dwelling at the Halfway …

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Saving history

Northern Bedrock works with Ely mason at Halfway Station

Posted

ELY - Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps (Northern Bedrock) worked with area stone mason Mike Braun this week to repair and preserve a stone chimney on the Ranger Dwelling at the Halfway Ranger Station.

The Halfway Ranger Station Historic District (HRSHD) is located on the South Kawishiwi River, approximately 10 miles south of Ely.

The crew of young adults involved with Northern Bedrock learned repair techniques including tuck-pointing joints, washing stone surfaces and training on how to rebuild the top section of chimney to match the existing chimney.

The five-person crew endured frosty morning temperatures, but otherwise dry conditions during their stay at the station. Northern Bedrock crews sleep and eat at the job. “It was pretty cold first thing this morning when we crawled out of our tent,” said Samantha Aamot on Friday. “We warmed up quick when we got to work.”

Mike Braun is co-owner of Mike Braun Construction Inc., which has been in existence for thirty-years. The company has established a reputation of creating high quality fireplaces, foundations, chimneys and patios.

Northern Bedrock crews previously learned new masonry skills, with Braun’s guidance and expertise, to restore stone fire pits and grills and complete necessary maintenance on various stone buildings in Semer’s Park in Ely. Three stone grills were built between 1938 and 1941, by the National Youth Administration (NYA) which was comprised of local Ely youth. That group created five stone fireplace grills, seven stone tables, a stone council ring, the foundation for a kitchen, and a bathhouse.

The Halfway Ranger Station Historic District, consists of eleven buildings and one structure on twelve acres of land along the Kawishiwi River, which includes buildings built by the Works Progress Administration and the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps.

Located in the Superior National Forest, the site was first established as a Ranger Station in the early twentieth century and later used as a site for Forest Service research.

However, the 105-year-old site entered a nearly 20-year period of little to no use. In 2010, with no future plans for the site and deteriorating conditions, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service Northern Research Station (NRS) proposed disposal of the site. In reaction to the negative response to demolition from the community and the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office, alternatives were considered. It was at this time, that Northern Bedrock proposed an adaptive-reuse plan for the site, to serve as a training site for the organization.

In collaboration with NRS, Northern Bedrock listed the site on the National Register of Historic Places in November 2011.

Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps has entered into a participating agreement with the Forest Service to preserve the site for its adaptive re-use as a training facility for corps members.

Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps was established in 2011 to meet two converging needs: an aging stock of historic structures and landscapes in need of maintenance and repair, and a growing need to create a pathway for young adults into the preservation trades workforce.

Northern Bedrock utilizes a corps model and partners with trades professionals to provide young adults with hands on experience and training in the historic preservation trades.

“Our AmeriCorps program works with young adults, 18-25 years old, from across the region,” said Executive Director Rolf Hagberg. “Corps members work at project sites across Minnesota and receive training in a variety of preservation areas over a six month field season.”

Northern Bedrock is a member of The Corps Network. Learn more about Northern Bedrock at northernbedrockcorps.org

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