Man hopes he can save fairgrounds building

A picturesque limestone building on the Olmsted County Fairgrounds has held public events for seven decades. This weekend's Gold Rush could be the last. The building, identified as Building No. 31, is slated for demolition next month.
Cracked and loose stones, decaying rafters and a high cost to fix those problems might spell the death sentence for the building, designed by renowned Rochester architect Harold Crawford and built in 1938 as a Works Progress Administration project. Today, the building doesn't meet most common standards for construction or comfort. It lacks a heating system, bathrooms and fire sprinklers. Still, many consider the building an emblem of local history and character. And despite places of evident decay, the majority of the building, made of 8-inch-thick stone slabs, is sound. The county board authorized the teardown at a retreat early this year, said Commissioner Judy Ohly. But John Kruesel, a Rochester businessman and historic preservationist -- a label he shuns -- thinks the building can be saved and deserves to be. He hopes to coax the county board into reversing its decision. read more