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Nymore - just around the corner

An aerial view toward the south shore of Lake Bemidji shows Nymore's residential area. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

By 1910, the lumber manufacturing village platted in 1902 on 43 acres by Porter Nye and L. Custer Moore was a bustling town.

The city directory for that year reports that Nymore was served by a barbershop, blacksmith, confectioner, lumber mill, meat market, three boot emporiums, two clothing stores, two crockery purveyors, three dry goods stores, three grocers, two hardware stores, two restaurants, two hotels - the Krog Hotel and the Nymore House - and three saloons.

But by 1915, Bemidji had become the more prosperous of the two settlements, and Nymore was nearly in bankruptcy. In 1915, the Nymore City Council petitioned the Bemidji City Council for annexation, and on Oct. 30, 1916, Nymore ceased to exist as an independent city. Nymore deeded to Bemidji all municipal property, namely a village hall, chairs, two stoves, fire apparatus, table and $1,500.

Just as Nymore began to benefit from the annexation, however, a disastrous fire gutted the downtown. The Sept. 23, 1918, edition of the Bemidji Daily Pioneer reported that the Nymore Hotel and the Minnesota and International Railroad Hotel, a general store and barber shop were totally destroyed and five other businesses were severely damaged. The article reported that the fire started in one of the hotels and was of unknown origin.

"Only a brick flue standing in the center of the charred and smoking area (was) a monument to the destruction," the Pioneer wrote. The article also noted that even the next morning overheated cans of food stored in the store cellar were blowing up in puffs of smoke "like the explosion of shells on the Western Front."

Members of the 1st Minnesota Infantry, used as guards at the lumber mills, assisted the "helpless" Nymore Fire Department control the blaze. The Bemidji Fire Department also arrived, but wasn't much help because Nymore had no water system. Nymore wasn't connected to city water and sewer until 1946.

Nymore also was the site of the Bemidji Poor Farm from about 1900 to 1950. About 25 people, mostly men with no family support, resided at the poor farm at any one time. They were destitute and sick - some with tuberculosis - or disabled. Some were alcoholic or mentally ill. They did what work they could to supply their food on the 320-acre property about two miles east of the corner of First Street and Lake Avenue Northeast.

Nymore continued to expand with most people employed by the Crookston and Bemidji lumber companies. The village site widened from the original 16 square blocks to three square miles.

On Sept. 2, 1915, the Pioneer reported the inauguration of the Nymore-Bemidji Jitney Service as an "up to the minute" addition. The service employed four touring cars and made about 25 trips each day to meet trains, take Nymore folks to the main city and take people for pleasure drives for 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children.

Now, Nymore is a quiet, mostly residential corner of Bemidji. A major feature is the Bemidji School District's Nymore Arena.

"I think every kid learned to play hockey in the Nymore rink," said The Garden bartender Ryan MaGaurn. "I played there eight years; my brother played there nine years."

Nymore is also home to Northwest Technical College, which dates back to early 1965, when Bemidji High School teacher Jake Outwin recognized that the region needed a workforce with practical skills and knowledge necessary for professional opportunities. Over the years, the college evolved several new names as well as new programs in medical, business, child development and other technological fields that met the increasing needs of its learners, the state and the nation.

Several businesses serve the community and draw patrons from around the area. Roger's Two Way Radio anchors the north side of the business district, which also includes the Grand Central Laundry, a pair of auto-body shops and the Carpenters Union Hall. The Corner Bar and The Garden sit diagonally opposite the corner of Central Avenue Southeast and Second Street Southeast.

A few streets in Nymore are unpaved, but Cheri Wilcox, owner of The Garden with Mark Wilcox and Kim Hardwig, said residents don't want them paved because they don't want the additional assessment.

She said The Garden is possibly the oldest building in Nymore. The close proximity to The Corner Bar is no problem, she said.

"Actually, it kind of helps us because they go back and forth to both bars," she said. "It kind of brings people to our area."

"Nymore is more of a working-class neighborhood," said Steve Carter, owner of the Corner Bar, which he bought three years ago from his father, who owned and operated it for about 30 years.

"There are a lot of older homes with character," he said. "The event center will give it a face lift and property values will come up."

He added that he also grew up playing hockey in the Nymore Arena, but the warming house has also made the outdoor rink an attraction.

Another important Nymore business is Stittsworth's Nymore Food Mart, famous for homemade brats.

"We call it Grandpa Jipe's Secret Recipe," said owner Cory Stittsworth. "He was a resorter on Leech Lake, but (the recipe) is really ours."

Stittsworth said he studied meat cutting at what was in the 1970s Pipestone Vocational Technical School in Pipestone, Minn. In 1975, he started working for Joe Lueken in the lakeside supermarket on Bemidji Avenue.

"I just kind of worked at all the stores around town until I bought this on Aug. 9, 1993, my daughter's birthday," he said.

He said his father, Willis Stittsworth, a retired health and physical education professor at Bemidji State University, had the time to promote his son's business by grilling the secret recipe brats and offering samples.

"To give people a taste, then people wanted to do parties," he said.

Another Nymore-based business is Bemidji Bus Lines. Lyle Annonson, who has been driving for the charter company since 1986 when the company also provided service in the city, said coaches from the Nymore bus barn travel all over the country. For example, he said he drove a contingent of powwow dancers from Red Lake to Albuquerque, N.M., for a national gathering, and in March, he drove the Blackduck High School Band to Washington, D.C. The company runs eight buses, most with the First City on the Mississippi and Paul and Babe logo painted on the sides so the rest of the country can admire Bemidji's icons.

Bemidji Ambulance is also based in Nymore, tucked away in a residential area.

Bemidji City Councilor Greg Negard represents Nymore's Ward 5. He said he foresees improvements for the neighborhood. He hopes the city can find a way to pave all the streets without assessments that are too hard for property owners to pay. He said the summer's repair project include several Nymore streets.

Other improvements he looks forward to include renovating the dilapidated tennis courts, a project he thinks could be a partnership between the Bemidji Tennis Association and the Bemidji Parks and Recreation Commission.

He would also like to see the old Nymore Cemetery spruced up and the old Schmunk's Store at the corner of First Street and Lake Avenue Southeast modernized and reopened.

"That would be a revitalization and a little economic stimulus for Nymore," Negard said.

He said he noticed when he was campaigning door-to-door last year that Nymore is attracting more young families. The Bemidji Regional Event Center will add to the area's attraction, he said.

Negard said he enjoys meeting the Nymore residents, taking their calls and representing Ward 5 on the City Council.

"I'm proud to have them as constituents," he said.