The Free Press, Mankato, MN


June 22, 2014

Our View: Post office plan needs voice from the arts

Why it matters: There are many solutions that can be offered for saving the historic post office. The arts community has an opportunity to help with some of them.

On Monday night, a representative of the U.S. Postal Service will address the Mankato City Council to find a “partnership with you and your community” in the disposition of the historic downtown post office.

The post office and federal courthouse was completed in April 1896. Built from Mankato limestone, it was lavishly praised and a point of pride for the city.

The USPS wants to relocate many of its operations and sell the building to help with its financial problems.

It is important that members of the cultural community attend this meeting, not so much with preconceived ideas on how to use or save the building, but as a united show of interest and concern to both the USPS and the City Council that the building must be saved and with an eye toward the arts.

As we stated last week, the final disposition of this structure can help set the tone for the City Center in years to come.

It is unlikely — but not impossible — that the post office will be razed. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a testament to our past. The USPS is aware of this and that is why it wants community assistance in finding an answer. Among a number of possibilities is converting the building for commercial opportunities. While this is not an outlandish option, there are better ones that can help better define our community.

We have urged a serious discussion as a possible performing arts center. However, other ideas that have emerged ,include housing the many cultural non-profits in our community, helping them become more of a focal point for the downtown.

This has been successfully completed in many Minnesota cities, including Brainerd, Duluth, Fergus Falls, St. Paul, Minneapolis and even close to home at New Ulm’s Grand Center for Arts and Culture.

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