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Historical society awarded $285,618 for Historic Fire Hall exterior renovation

Posted 12/15/21

TOWER- The Tower-Soudan Historical Society (TSHS) was just awarded a $285,618 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant for the Tower Historic Fire Hall Exterior Rehabilitation. The grant, …

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Historical society awarded $285,618 for Historic Fire Hall exterior renovation

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TOWER- The Tower-Soudan Historical Society (TSHS) was just awarded a $285,618 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant for the Tower Historic Fire Hall Exterior Rehabilitation. The grant, awarded through the Minnesota Historical Society, fills the funding gap for the $425,000 masonry project.
TSHS has also secured $140,000 for this project through the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Downtown Streetscapes Program, Tower Economic Development Authority, Minnesota Power Foundation, Mortenson Family Foundation, Frandsen Bank and Trust, and individual cash donations. MacDonald and Mack Architects, a Minneapolis architecture firm specializing in historic preservation and stewardship of existing structures of all ages, will oversee the 2022 project.
Tower’s Historic Fire Hall tells the story of Tower as the first mining town on the Range, and offers Tower-Soudan-Lake Vermilion residents, seasonal residents and visitors a look into the social history of early iron ore mining in Minnesota. The building housed the city hall and jail, in addition to the fire department. It was used as a community center for social activities for many years after the city hall and jail were relocated in 1935. It was sold to a private party and leased to businesses after the Civic Center was built in the 1970’s.
The building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in the theme of social history.
This past summer, the TSHS completed the roof replacement on the building. The original doors and windows were restored in 2019. The exterior restoration project is a continuation of achieving the goal of the TSHS to develop and offer the community an updated year-round facility where visitors can learn about Tower and Soudan’s vital role in the development of the iron mining industry that has had a lasting impact on the region and helped to shape its cultural identity.
It will also tell the story of the early days when the Tower Harbor was a transportation hub and bustling commercial center with a hotel, outfitters, and a boat builder. Steamboats ferried train passengers to logging camps and resorts which were only accessible by water, thus pioneering Minnesota’s resort and tourism industry on Lake Vermilion in the early part of the 20th century, several decades before tourism became an important industry throughout the state of Minnesota.
TSHS plans to further develop the Historic Fire Hall into a history education and event center, and offer an outlet for local artisans, making it a unique destination-shopping/educational experience.  The TSHS will continue to sponsor a variety of community pop-up events. The monthly Charlemagne’s Attic Sales, History Talks on Main Street series, and tours of the jail and city/fire hall will continue throughout summer 2022.   
TSHS is currently requesting donations to install restrooms in the Historic Fire Hall so more public events can be held in the building. Please consider making a cash donation, tribute or memorial donation, or annual pledge. Multi-year pledges to support preserving the fire hall and sharing the history of the area can be made by contacting Nancy Larson at 218-750-7514 or Louise Gately at 515-229-8757, or at tshsdonations@gmail.com
TSHS is a 501(c)(3) organization that operates the Historic Train Depot Museum and Visitor Information Center at Tower’s western entrance, and is restoring the Historic Fire Hall History Education Center. Donations of any size can be mailed any time to the Tower-Soudan Historical Society, PO Box 465, Tower, MN 55790 or made through PayPal by linking to the website at www.towersoudanhs.org

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