The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 25, 2012

Krohn: Old building stokes memories

By Tim Krohn
The Free Press

— Last month, I wrote a column about the known history of the building on 731 South Front Street, now the new home of the Mankato Ballet.

Milan Bergien called to help fill in many of the details.

"We came to Mankato in 1939 and my father (Arnold) put Arnold's Foodland in there. I worked many years there as a kid," said Bergien, 77.

The building was owned by the family for 50 years. Milan and his brother sold it in the late '80s to the Kagemeiers, who operated Earthly Remains antiques there until the building was sold to Scott Haefner last year.  

"When we sold the building and went in to have the title changed, the guy said he'd never seen a commercial building with so few deed changes," Milan recalls.

While the family ran Arnold's Foodland for many years, they leased the building out in the 1950s. "Meathead Miller ran Miller's Food Mart there, then it was Geller Furniture," Milan said.  

(Meanwhile, Bergien's parents were operating B&H Bargain Center in Le Hillier, in a building on Old Highway 169 behind the nursing home.)  

When Geller got out of the furniture business, the Bergiens opened the Bargain Center in the building -- the last store in the building before it was sold to the Kagemeiers.      

When Haefner was renovating the building for use by the Ballet, he noticed some paint remnants on the side where a large "Mother Hubbard Flour" sign was located in the old ArnoldÕs Foodland photo.

Milan remembers the sign well. "Dad always left it there because he got a small stipend from Hubbard Milling for having it."

And Bergien specifically recalls the rows of round wooden baskets lining the front of Arnold's Foodland in the old photograph.

"We'd fill them with peaches in season. The train would come in from Colorado with peaches. We really had to hustle."

Tim Krohn is a Free Press staff writer. He can be contacted at 344-6383 or