Will history pay off?

Tracy’s Municipal Building has been around since 1938, and the City is working to determine if the building’s history will translate into grant dollars

By Per Peterson

Lauren Anderson

When one talks about multi-purpose facilities in Tracy, no building can compare to what is now known as Veterans Memorial Center. And the City is well into a process it hopes will put the building on the map and in the process garner funding for major upgrades.

The City has commissioned a group called New History to dive into the history of the building in an effort to garner grants to improve it to ultimately put to use second-floor space that is currently serving as nothing more than storage space.

“Last summer, our firm was doing a survey of downtown, so I got to see the exterior then,” said Lauren Anderson, one of the directors of New History, a Minneapolis-based building reuse consulting firm that works with communities to design guidelines for preservation and reuse as part of an effort to place historical buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Last week, Anderson got an in-depth look inside.

“It’s a great building,” she said. “It was great to get to see the interior; there are a lot of historical materials it looks like, which is great. The goal of the National Register property valuation which we’re preparing is to describe the historic material that remains, describe the building’s history.”

That information will eventually be submitted to New History’s state historical preservation office, which will review it and give an opinion on whether or not the building is eligible for the National Register.

“We’ll know more once they’ve done their review,” Anderson said. “But I really enjoyed getting to walk through it.”

The City of Tracy used a Legacy Grant through the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund to complete the process, which, Anderson said, will ideally be done this fall. That’s when the City will potentially find out if the building qualifies for the National Register.

“It won’t be listed on the National Register, but you’ll have a good idea of whether or not it’s eligible,” said Anderson.

The municipal building, known as a community center when it was erected in 1938 for $78,000, was, at the time, considered one of the finest buildings in the area. It opened to the public on Nov. 2, 1938, the result of a partnership between the City of Tracy and the Public Works Administration.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.