I love vacation! I realize that’s kind of an understatement and I’m not shocking anyone by making such an admission. But vacation usually means an opportunity to experiencing something new or see something I would otherwise never see. As the early riser in a family of late sleepers, and an architectural junkie to boot I took full advantage of our stop in Red Wing, Minnesota, to go in search of what treasures might lie in wait for me to discover.
And I did not have to look far as we chose to stay in the historic St. James Hotel in a room overlooking the Mississippi River.
Even the upkeep on the old Railroad Depot, now home to the Visitor’s Center, positioned right on the banks of the Mississippi, is a must-see attraction.
But the building that most caught my eye on this early morning adventure was the T.B. Sheldon Memorial Theatre.
Built as a result of the generous donation of, you guessed it, T.B. Sheldon, to the people of Red Wing, this building stands out as one of the hidden gems of Red Wing. Upon his death, T.B. Sheldon left $83,000 to the City of Red Wing with the only stipulation being that it be used to build a civic facility for the benefit of all the people of the City. It is indeed a confident man who can leave such a sum in the hands of others without knowing how it would turn out. T.B. Sheldon is, undoubtably, happy with the results. Like most other facilities of with this many years under its belt, the theatre has seen its ups and downs and, at one point, nearly met its demise due to lack of use and poor upkeep. But in the early 1980’s an effort was made to save this gemfrom destruction through donations and fund-raisers totalling over $3.8 Million. In 1986, the theatre re-opened and has been in continual operation since.
Of course, being the junkie I am I was sure to walk the perimeter to check out all the details (and to see if I could find a door left unlocked for a chance to see the interior). You realize, back when this was constructed in the early 1900’s they built four-sided buildings so there is architectural detailing to be found even in the back by the loading dock. Today’s buildings, more often than not, you are likely to find vinyl siding or used tissues cladding the backsides of buildings. Thankfully not here.
Though I was unable to get inside right away I did drag the loving family back to this theatre after breakfast and was lucky enough to find the box office open hosted by a gracious tour guide who were more than willing to allow us to step inside, turn on all the lights, and see this “Jewel Box” first hand. I can’t thank them enough for their willingness to feed my curiosity. I hope you enjoy it as well.