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Historic Waterfront Business District taking shape

I would like to share with the community my thoughts about embracing the Historic Waterfront Business District.

This past year the society initiated a program with the intent to share the history of our community with more people, in particular those casually visiting who were not interested in visiting our museums. This started our Historical Marker Project.

Seeking to expand on that program, I asked to attend the Two Harbors Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on July 2, to make a proposal to have the portion of Two Harbors south of Fifth Avenue, from the eastern shoreline to the railroad tracks, designated as the Historic Waterfront District.

The first thing I learned was that many years ago the area had already been designated as the Historic Waterfront Business District. I was very happy to learn this.

My primary goal was to see the area recognized for what it is. Within four city blocks there are seven locations on the National Historic Register. These are the Light Station, Depot, No.6 Dock, Edna G., Dwan Office 3M Building, Lake County Courthouse and the Carnegie Library. Most are located on Waterfront Drive. A list of other locations that would qualify for the Register would include; Beckman's Livery and Dray, Old City Hall and Fire Station, and the Scandinavian Mercantile to name a few. Very few communities can boast such a rich history concentrated in just a few city blocks.

As part of my initial proposal, I requested that signage be put in place along Waterfront Drive and Lakeview Drive at the intersection of Fifth Avenue, letting people know they are entering the Historic Waterfront Business District. These locations are the next logical place, as they are out of the Minnesota Department of Transportation's right of way.

I shared with the Planning and Zoning Commission a historic walking tour brochure I created last season and asked if I could adapt it to possibly be displayed along the trailheads of the Sonju trail in Agate and Burlington Bays for the 2014 season. The walking tour signs along with those on Lakeview and Waterfront Drives would be enough to begin establishing the Historic Waterfront Business District. Additionally, I would like to see the society's historic markers "lose the buckets" and be adapted for permanent installation.

This past summer has seen a very refreshing trend of reinvestment in our Historic Waterfront Business District. Architectural Antiques has moved into the Scandinavian Mercantile, the Harbor Theater has been sold and plans include a classic car museum, and just recently old city hall was purchased by a private party.

Last, and most certainly not least, I would like to thank City Councilor Seth MacDonald for using his new electronic Dairy Queen sign to promote the Historic Waterfront Business District and specifically Lighthouse Point.