You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Downtown Winona views
We've completed our a study tour of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, and we've just got time to race through nearby Winona, Minnesota, and get a superficial sense of its many virtues.
Though perhaps we've come a little early, if it's not finished yet.
Winona is a small town of about 28,000 in southeastern Minnesota, wedged in between the Upper Mississippi River and Lake Winona. It's surrounded by bluffs along the river, including its signature 'Sugar Loaf', characteristic of the 'Driftless Area' of southeastern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin, a varied terrain that escaped the scraping off of the landscape by the glaciers of the last Ice Age.
East 3rd Street
Winona (named for a fictional 'Indian princess') began life in 1857 as a town of wooden buildings -- which promply burnt down, in 1862. Reconstruction commenced immediately in local stone.
The Merchants Bank was founded in 1875 and this building, evidently famous as 'a classic example of Prairie School architecture', was built in 1911 and remodeled in 1972 and 1991; in 1975 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The stained glass windows, with what looks like Native American ceremonial motifs amid prairie-ish colors, are original but way too subtle for my little camera.
The emphatic façade decoration of the Merchants Bank
The Upper Mississippi River study tour members are lost in admiration -- the mural, showing rich agricultural land in the neighborhood, was done by a Chicago artist Albert Fleury, but a second one, showing the river, was removed to make way for the expansion in 1972.
The generous open plan interior on this side was added by incorporating nearby buildings during the renovation of 1972.
Information brochures on the bank are freely available.
That's the original cash vault, 15 tons of it, we're told; team members in the background are scrutinizing the original 'collateral vault' door from 1871.
Get your DVDs, electronics, ammo . . .
A worthy tradition in many mid-size towns -- the Shakespeare Festival.
A row of law offices
Passing along to West 3rd Street . . .
. . . we're drawn to a used-book and second-hand shop that specializes in 'collectibles' . . .
with a novel (but not unprecedented) spelling of the word.
Street scene (with a store featuring 'collectable toys & games').
Glancing down the side streets and looking the town up on Google, it's clear that there is a great lot more to Winona than we had time for on this trip.
Cash Loans, Gold & Silver, and Guns. And on that note, dinner at The Waterfront in La Crosse and home the next day.