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Grand Rapids, Minnesota
Grand Rapids has 4 lakes within the city limits, plus the Mississippi River runs through it. I didn't know how beautiful it was until I moved away.
Incorporated in 1891, Grand Rapids is the county seat of Itasca County. Situated on the Mississippi River, its name comes from a succession of cataracts 3 1/2 miles long. When the steamboat was the only dependable feeder of supplies to the lumber camps of the North Country, it marked the practical head of navigation on the upper Mississipi River. Grand Rapids' biggest industry was/is Blandin Paper Company. At one time it was suggested to change the name to Blandin Rapids, but it was zilched.
Besides the River, Crystal (Ice) Lake, Hale Lake, Forest Lake and McKinney Lake are all within the city limits, which makes Grand Rapids not only a nice place to visit, but a nice place to live.
Grand Rapids 1890
Here you can see the Old Court House and the Pokegema Hotel.
Itasca County Court House 1890
This beautiful building was torn down in the mid 50's and replaced with....
I had the pleasure... honor... joy... of placing 49 blinds in this building in 1985.
That was a trip.
Central School 1900
City Fathers had the fortitude to save this building. They did remove the bell tower somewhere along the line.
Grand Rapids being the home of Judy Garland, they have now themed this building around the Wizard of Oz. The original Judy Garland Museum was on the 3rd floor of the school, established by Jackie Dingman.
Just follow the Yellow Brick Road...
Jackie Dingman portrait of Judy Garland as Dorothy
I attended 5th grade here when it was still a school. I remember the March of Dimes... we actually marched around the Rotunda and dropped our dimes in a bucket at the bottom of the stairs.
Bird's Eye View of Grand Rapids 1900
It's rather amazing that they built such architecturally magnificent buildings, such as the school and Court House when the town itself was pretty spare... for want of a better word.
First School built where the Central School is, moved to Cohasset.
Grand Rapids Public Library
Informants tell me this is a new library built on the banks of the Mississippi River just east of the Blandin Floundation... which I'm not even sure I featured here... However, it is just east of the Pokegema Avenue Bridge.
Pokegema Hotel 1897
Blandin Paper Mill
There is no longer a Leland Avenue. What you see in the first picture above is looking North, the second picture, looking South, where you see the Pokegema Hotel first shown in above the Blandin Paper Mill photos and the old Itasca County Court House. It is now called Pokegema Avenue.
Power's Hill - 2015
Kindred Avenue 1910
There is no longer a Kindred Avenue. It might be 1st Avenue... I don't recognize anything in the photo. But the 'feel' is more like 3rd Street. Yet, I can't justify changing an Avenue to a Street...
This is AT Pokegema Avenue. In fact, the first photo above shows the Pokegema Hotel on the left. The Railroad Depot is on the right.
1st National Bank 1930's
The First National 'Building', as it says on it, is on the corner of 3rd Street and 1st Ave W.
The first photo above is 3rd St. looking East. You can see the old Court House in the distance. The 2nd one is 1st Ave. looking South.
There's Rail Road tracks roughly behind where the camera man is standing.
The Forest Lake School and the Jr. High were torn down. The High School was across the street from the Jr. High and connected by an underground tunnel. It was changed to a Middle School by the time my kids were going to school and a new High School was built. I don't have a picture of it, but it was called 'Joe's Prison' by the kids. There is now a new Middle school I will show later, so I don't know if the old High School is still in use.
Robert J. Elkington Middle School - 2002
Ah, the Middle School is near the Fairgrounds, rather than the High School. Now I'm not sure that's to the east, or somewhat northwest... I can't recognize anything from the picture.
City Hall - 1930
Not changed much. City Hall Today
Arial View of the Airport
Hmmm... I lived at the base of that little loop on the right. At least, the last time I moved...before I moved completely away. (1988)
Blandin Beach on Forest Lake - 1955
The Historic Gilbert Mansion
- The Historic Gilbert Mansion
- Admission: Adults - $10 Children under 12 - $7
It's been called "The Jewel of Itasca County." Built in 1904 and once home to one of the most prominent families in Northern Minnesota, the Gilbert Mansion has been a private home for more than a century. Finally, its doors have been opened to the public for tours. Step inside and you are transported back in time. Your one hour tour includes 17 rooms of the mansion. Experience the opulence and grandeur of a by-gone era as you learn about the Gilbert family and early Grand Rapids history. Don't miss this opportunity to see a rare Itasca County gem!
I found the above in the Herald-Review.
Upon digging I found the current owner, Christie Gaupman, and her husband, Tim, raised their 6 children there, while restoring it to the opulence it began with. Come to find out, she is the daughter of my Chiropractor who treated me and my son, Tracy, when he was 2 years old to 8. I honestly think he saved his life. It was a time when no one knew of Rhyes Syndrome, but he treated him instinctively. It wasn't until 12 years later I learned of the disease, that usually took the lives children who developed the complications after the flu or Chicken Pox. Tracy had just had Chicken Pox before his convulsions.
Anyway, let me show you more pictures and the inside.
I found the Gilbert Mansion when I was going to Jr. HIgh. We would walk past on our way uptown on lunch hour. I was fascinated with it, even though at that time it was in a very run-down condition. Not quite vacant, we heard there was an old woman living in one of the rooms in the back. One time I braved creeping up on the front porch and looking in the windows on the door.
I saw what I thought was a large hall that looked nearly empty except for newspapers scattered around. Now that's pulling from a really long ago memory...
The first photo shows some magnificent detailing.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church
I had difficulty locating a photo of St. Joe's... then I ran across a photo showing demolition of it. I cannot imagine WHY ! It was a beautiful building and I have no details about when it was built.
Demolition - 2013
The Great River Road
...and Everybody Knew Where The Pink Elephant Was.
On The River Road
She wasn't only Dorothy... but she started on the stage of the Rialto Theater.
Home of Judy Garland
Head of Navigation
The GRAND Rapids...
Here Comes the Showboat!
Wedding! Aug 12, 2006
Yes, Bon Voyage...
A good place to depart and publish this historic article...
I forgot to mention, I also had the pleasure and the honor of being a Showboat Cast Member in 1987, the year before I moved away.
I just found out The Harbor has a new name and, of course, I can't remember it.... but if I find out I'll let you know. Having left Grand Rapids in 1988, a LOT has changed and I have been able to include some of that, but the history of the town is elegant. I hope you enjoy this.
Aha! The new name of the Harbor is ...forgot again... I'll be back.
Pickled Loon Saloon! See why I couldn't remember it? Haha...
Today's date is July 23, 2016, but I have been working on this for several years.