Monte Brown arrived in Bemidji in the late 1800s to join Judge Spooner's law practice in the Third Street building where the Yellow Balloon gift shop is now located. In 1910 Monte married my grandmother's sister. They lived at 1005 Lake Blvd., and over the next years had two daughters. Monte's practice flourished. He served on the school board, and in 1913 he spoke at the dedication of the Great Northern Depot.
The Browns moved to the Twin Cities at the time of the First World War, but their attachment to Bemidji remained strong. When help was needed to restore the Depot, their daughter Marney responded.
We saved the Depot, but we've lost other pieces of our past: the Markham Hotel, St. Philip's Church, the high school. Now we face the possible loss of the Carnegie Library. A community expresses its character in large measure through its public buildings and parks. When I go to Third Street and look at the building where my great uncle practiced law, I am impressed with the building, with its classic columns incorporated into the architecture. I would like to see all of Third Street restored, so we could see the history of the street brought to life, with a history of each building on display for a walking tour.
It breaks my heart a little every time I think about the high school being ripped apart. Mary Welsh studied there as a girl and graduated to go on to Northwestern University. From there she became a war correspondent and married Ernest Hemingway. How many other people are there we should remember who studied in that beautiful building? Had it been saved, there were so many ways it could have served this community well.
Now the idea of tearing down the Carnegie Library because the egress is dangerous and the building has been allowed to run down is outrageous. The front door can surely be relocated more easily than the building can. As for the run-down condition of the building, this we have heard before. It was the reason given for tearing down the high school. Don't let it be the reason for losing the Carnegie Library. If we continue to tear down our buildings of character, our beautiful expressions of who we are as a community, we will eventually be a town of parking lots and big box buildings.
Anne Louise Sliney