Collections Carousel – Photos of O. A. Churchill Store/Muske Implement Building, circa 1985

Photo mosaic showing various views of the O. A. Churchill Store/Muske Implement Company building, circa 1985

Until its demolition in 1988, the O. A. Churchill Store, also known as the Muske Implement Building, was the oldest standing commercial structure in central Minnesota. Built in 1855 at the northeast corner of First Street and Broadway in downtown Little Falls, Minnesota, the building housed the store during the first decades of its existence and had a boarding or rooming house on the second floor. After it was moved in 1891 to a new location a few blocks away at 55 Bay Street, it became the Webster Hotel. The Muske Implement Company moved into the building a few years after the hotel closed in 1908 and occupied the site until around 1980. In 1985, the building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

 In the 1980s, redevelopment plans for downtown Little Falls led to the building’s demolition as some saw the structure as an eyesore that would hinder economic development. A wood frame building, it had an unusual masonry veneer of bricks laid on their sides to show the stamp of the brick manufacturer, Martin Scott (1844-1915), a well-known brick maker. Scott moved to Little Falls in 1880 and started his brick manufacturing business the following year at a site about two miles west of the city along what is now Highway 27. His wire-cut yellow bricks were used in various local and state projects, including the county courthouse, city hall, and the power house and gate house of the Little Falls Water Power Company (The Northwest Magazine, November 1892). It is hard not to wonder what may have been possible if the building had remained standing given today’s option of tax credits and other financing opportunities for sites with historic designation and the acknowledged need for a mix of building types and ages in order to foster healthy economic growth. The site today is parking lot.

Martin Scott bricks from Muske Implement Company building, circa 1900

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