From: Merle Hanson
Heritage Committee Chair
Our mothers and fathers walked the streets of downtown Winona, as did their parents before them. Some had pie at the old Kewpee café, while others drank their coffee at Ruth’s. Some had breakfast at Barney’s, while others found solace at the Labor Temple.
Some found wines while some found a quiet beer. Like an old country song, there was happiness and sadness and love all within walking distance.
There wasn’t much that could not be had in downtown Winona, and if those old buildings could talk we might blush and then laugh. For many, the best times of their life were found downtown. Old river towns have a history of their own and are a big part of who we were and who we became.
Tourists come from far and wide to get a taste of what Winona offers. We have world class music festivals and museums. We have academic institutions whose graduates come back to look at the best times of their lives. We have bluffs and rivers and lakes and you can travel far and wide and not find a more picturesque setting for a little town.
Downtown is where friendships were made, and The Historic Preservation Commission is dedicated to preserving that rich heritage. We live in a remarkable town with an even more remarkable history and those memories should be preserved for our children and grandchildren. Sometimes old black and white photos of a bygone era don’t cut it.
Parts of downtown Winona are in a historic district and rules and regulations are part of that designation. History sells, and when you couple it with the museums, music and educational institutions, you can begin to make this a one of a kind tourist destination. We want to make sure the building owner is aware of historical tax credits available in the restoration of his or her property.
Winona paint stores provide color options from their historical palette and we suggest owners use the colors from that palette. We are developing an educational pamphlet, which we will distribute to the local paint stores. One of the regulations in a historic district is that brick not be painted. If already painted, repainting can occur. Painted brick seals in moisture and leads to more decay and tuck pointing. We are here to help and assist the business and building owner.
We live in wonderful city. We cannot rebuild the Post Office or the Philharmonic Hall or the Morgan Block. But we can keep the memories alive by preserving what we have. Winona has always been a little city that could and we are here to help.
Commission members are available to answer any questions you may have and they can be reached at the city of Winona website: http://ww.cityofwinona.com/city-services/boards-commissions/heritage-preservation-commission/heritage-preservation-committee/