Kimball City Hall

Historic Village Hall = Valuable Asset

The restoration of the Kimball Prairie Village Hall was kick-started when fresh eyes from outside the community paid special notice to the building. The Minnesota Design Team, a group of volunteer design professionals organized under the Minnesota chapter of the American Institute

The largest room on the main floor of the historic hall – which served as gymnasium and theater over the years – has been divided in two. (The public library is on the opposite side of the center wall.) The tin ceiling and proscenium arch are original. Replacement windows in the historic configuration have been installed.

of Architects, makes multiple-day house calls to help communities plan for their future. Design Team members visited Kimball in 1999 and were struck by the village hall, a prominent landmark on the town’s main street that was built in 1908. As the only National Register-listed city hall in Stearns County, this Renaissance Revival style building, which has been in continuous use for over a hundred years, is a unique resource in this small, mostly rural community.

The visit by the Design Team fueled talks amongst local citizens of what to do with this asset, which in past years served as a theater, fire station, and a gymnasium and today houses the village government offices, a meeting hall, and a library. The Design Team endorsed preservation and adaptive reuse of the building, which inspired local residents to form the Kimball Area Historical Society in 2000. Looking to the successful rehabilitation of the Universal Laboratories Building in Dassel for inspiration, Kimball’s leaders went door-to-door, collecting signatures and rallying support. Their efforts showed that 84% of the residents supported the preservation of the village hall, statistics that were consistent with the city council’s own research. This robust community support convinced the city council to contribute some funds, helping the local historical society to jumpstart its fundraising efforts, which together provided a match to State Capital Grants from the Minnesota Historical Society. In five phases of work, from 2006 to 2010, the building was repointed, reproduction wood windows were installed, parts of the interior were renovated, and the building’s heating and air conditioning systems were replaced.

A suite of rooms on the second story has become home to the local historical society. Transoms and six-panel doors are intact.

Building and Sustaining Community Support

The historical society sustained its momentum by holding a variety of fundraising events, distributing mailings, and publishing informational articles in the local newspaper to raise interest and involve the community. Hands-on volunteer work by local civic groups, including the Lions Club, helped remove the dropped ceiling to reveal the original embossed tin panels. The historical society displayed photos and information about Kimball’s history and the Village Hall at a local restaurant—strategically placed in the corridor leading to the restrooms—and at a local picnic shelter. Today, the city has continued its commitment to preserving the building and the meeting hall has serves a dual purpose as an exhibit area for the historical society, displaying photographs and artifacts.

The local residents who launched the efforts to save the building have more plans for its future use and preservation. For the time being, they continue to organize events to sustain community involvement and to bring people to Kimball to appreciate their unique, historic village hall.

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