Citizens in Fifty Lakes are coming together in an effort to preserve the Fifty Lakes Post Office building, which is scheduled for demolition to make room for the reconstruction of County Road 3.
In an email, resident Julie Engle said a group of residents has raised $6,500 in an effort to save the building.
Engle said the building was built in 1923 after a fire destroyed the original house and store building. In 1939, an addition that housed a dance hall was built. While the building was remodeled several times, Engle said the dance hall is in its original condition with log beams and paneling.
Engle said several local citizens feel the building is worth preserving for its historical value and have solicited bids to move part or all of the structure. Saving the dance hall is the top priority. A local historian, Ron Manger, has offered to let the building sit on his property, Engle said.
Engle said she believes moving the building will cost approximately $15,000 to $30,000.
Crow Wing County purchased the building for right-of-way in November. Tim Bray, Crow Wing County engineer, said there are several entities that have interest in the building.
After the county bought the building, it was inspected for hazardous waste. Some hazardous materials were found, including questionable insulation, and the county must hire a professional service to remove that waste.
“Then, and only then, can the building be torn down, moved, whatever,” Bray said.
Habitat for Humanity is interested in salvaging building materials, while area fire departments see the building as a chance for a practice burn.
Complicating the matter, Bray said the county has already put the building’s demolition and cleanup out for bids, which will be opened Friday, Jan. 24. Bray said citizens could, however, work with the demolition company that is awarded the bid and try to negotiate moving the building.
He said the county held open houses about the construction project months ago.
“I appreciate that some folks want to save it,” Bray said, “but the timing is really crummy.”
With the many requests the county is receiving regarding the fate of the building, it’s going to be difficult to honor all of them, he added.
The Fifty Lakes City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at city to discuss the building and any action it may or may not wish to take.