Column: Worthington's architectural treasuresWORTHINGTON - The Worthington Specialty Clinics (Avera) building on Ryan’s Road has reached its full dimensions. It is an imposing structure - three stories with a contemporary architectural flourish.
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON - The Worthington Specialty Clinics (Avera) building on Ryan’s Road has reached its full dimensions. It is an imposing structure - three stories with a contemporary architectural flourish.
One of the first reactions I heard was a man saying, “I wonder what they’ll do with the old building. I suppose they’ll tear it down.” That comment reflects a wide-spread dissatisfaction among Worthington residents that the community is inclined to raze old buildings rather than save old buildings. Worthington has never ceased to regret that its Carnegie library was cleared away for a gravel parking lot which still exists.
I said I believe Avera’s existing building is no treasure. With additions and remodeling, it no longer resembles the clinic that was built along 10th Street more than three-quarters of a century ago. When the Worthington Clinic first opened, Worthington was awed. Some people scarcely knew the word “clinic.” Clinic was something they associated with Mayo.
The short conversation about the 10th Street clinic set me thinking about what (my guess) are Worthington’s best old buildings.
Memorial Auditorium is Worthington’s jewel, with a root to 1931, but I don’t count the auditorium with its marvelous addition and restoration an old building. I will give you my five choices:
Hotel Thompson. In this year of its 100th anniversary, the old hotel does show some age. For me, Hotel Thompson is Worthington’s landmark building. It is and ever has been known to everyone here, and it remains a notably distinctive structure. To me, the Thompson says Worthington.
Railroad Depot. This is Union Pacific’s 150th year, and UP merits congratulations for the way it has maintained its Worthington depot. The rail station was under construction when Nobles County’s Company H left for active duty in the war with Spain (1898). Railroad employees have never objected if residents look inside. The fire place that warmed waiting passengers in another era, the wainscotting and the woodwork all remain, wonderfully preserved. One architect says the depot was inspired by Henry Hobson Richardson’s railroad stations that were, in turn, inspired by depots that were being constructed in France.
First Lutheran Church. I believe Worthington can make a boast of its many churches, and I wish the community once again would set aside a Sunday afternoon (as it once did) in which residents simply could visit one church and another. The classic First Lutheran (1913) was the first of the pioneer frame churches to be replaced with a permanent structure. The red brick sanctuary and tower on Fourth Avenue are another of the community’s landmarks. First Lutheran does not have the architectural distinctions of some community churches, but it is a treasure.
City Hall. I know; Worthington’s City Hall is, basically, only a box. For all of this, it is certainly not something for which the community must apologize. It reflects the time of its construction — the Great Depression of the 1930s. I like the story that attends it. Mayor E;J. Jones was a harsh critic of President F.D. Roosevelt, and the Mayor scorned the New Deal. He believed it was wrong for federal money to flow into communities across the land. Nonetheless, he could see merit in commissioning local government buildings toward the end of putting people to work. Accordingly, (1935) the mayor led the effort to build a new city hall with money coming from Worthington’s own resources.
The Atrium. Although it remains nearly hidden away on its low site in the last block of 10th Street, The Atrium is one of the most imposing and satisfying buildings through all the local region. Its signature atrium — its bright, open interior — is unmatched through all the region. At seven stories, it is among the highest structures ever built at Worthington and, given its full dimensions, one of the largest buildings ever constructed here. When first it was announced, The Atrium puzzled people of the local region. They had scarcely known an apartment building, say nothing of an apartment complex built for the elderly and the indigent. It is a milestone structure.
If I were to add two more 10th Street buildings, they would be Bill and Lauri Keitel’s Cow’s Outside (Citizens National Bank, 1920) and Deb Vander Kooi’s Main Street Kids (Nobles County Bank, 1889).
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.