“The city of Lanesboro is fortunate to have beautiful, old buildings making up its downtown National Historic District,” says Jim Haugen, commander for the Lanesboro American Legion Post 40. “One of those lovely ‘Grand Old Dames’ is in need of repairs.”
The Legion makes its home in a two-and-a-half story structure situated prominently on the corner of Elmwood, or “Slant Avenue,” and Parkway Avenue. Its cut stone blocks, numerous arched windows, and rooftop dormers make it handsome piece of property in the busy downtown. According to Legion member Doug Johnson, who oversees the facility maintenance, the building, originally known as the Ellef Loveland Building, became occupied by the Legion Post in 1946. Built in 1873, the finely cut masonry laid in subsequent courses, has been well-maintained, but in 145 years, it’s begun to show its age.
“The building has the distinction of being one of only 39 American Legion buildings in the country known to be included on the National Historic Register,” says Roger Jorgenson, Legion finance officer. “It also is the oldest building listed, and it is the only one in the state of Minnesota. The condition of the tuck-pointing between those old stones has deteriorated to the point that it now needs to be restored in order to preserve the building.”
The Legion’s roughly 100 members have discussed the matter for some time. Wanting to proceed with the repairs, the first estimates were gathered by Johnson in August or September of 2017. “Estimates ran as high as $62,000,” recalls Jorgenson. “The need was announced at the annual membership dinner in September and the first cash donations by individuals were made that night.”
Knowing that despite the generosity of Legion members, a bigger source of funding was needed, Legion members approved plans for a fundraising campaign at its October 10 meeting. “The total will be from $40,000-42,000. Of that, the Legion is prepared to pay $10,000-12,000, leaving a significant amount to be raised in order to complete this important repair,” he continues. This is where the community comes in.”
Legion Auxiliary members Glee Claussen and Jan Meyer took on active roles, spearheading fundraising organizing. Several fundraising possibilities are being considered, including a Memorial Day Breakfast, May 28, both before and after annual commemoration services. The Great Lanesboro Sing-in, known as a beer choir, is in the process of being firmed up and may serve as an opportunity for additional fundraising. Other events in the planning stages are a golf tournament, sale of the American Legion’s 100-year anniversary patriotic-themed calendars in 2019, and possibly a cash raffle and sale of state coins commemorating the anniversary. Grant applications, tax-deductible donations to American Legion Post 40, and a potential incentive for donations of $500 will also be part of the campaign push.
“Which of these will be implemented will depend on volunteers,” notes Jorgenson. “All help is welcome and all will be fun.”
“It would be nice to complete the project by October 1, 2018, but it may be continued a second year” says Commander Haugen. The Legion has set the deadline for raising the entire amount as October 1, 2019. The Legion plans to coordinate with the City of Lanesboro to celebrate the 2019 Sesquicentennial of the town and hold a community-wide birthday bash in September 2019 to celebrate that anniversary event and the Tuckpointing Project’s successful completion.
“This American Legion Post takes seriously that as a part of its mission, it is proud to support and contribute both time and finances to many local groups. It is one of the first area organizations to which others go for help,” notes Haugen. “The Legion is a valuable community asset and its contributions to this community touch every person who lives and visits here in some way. It’s hoped that many people recognize that and will contribute time, talent, and finances in each’s own unique manner to achieve the project goal.”
Checks for the Tuckpointing Fund can be sent to the American Legion Post 40 at PO Box 285, Lanesboro, Minn., 55949. To volunteer with fundraising efforts, contact project coordinators Glee Claussen at (507)-259-1968 or email@example.com, or Jan Meyer at (507)-951-9759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.