This month we look at four towns, the Quad Cities of the Iron Range. Virginia was named after the state - many of the lumbermen who settled in the area were from Virginia, it seems. Almost nine thousand residents, down from 15K in 1960. It's the birthplace of Chris Pratt. whose father worked the mines until that business dwindled.

This would have been familiar to someone in 1950. Except for the emptiness.

There's still a Thrifty White Pharmacy in town. Reviews vary from "Awesome service!!!" to "horrid service bitch," which suggests you could actually have a really good Service Bitch.

The front:


An obit for Elder Metsa:

His father soon built the Log Cabin Tavern in Angora, which has survived the recent redesign of Highway 53. They lived for a short time in the attached residence, and then moved to Virginia when his father purchased the Roosevelt Bar on the 200 block of Chestnut Street. The windows of their four-room apartment today look out over Chestnut Street beneath the words, “Svea Block, 1900.” Adjacent to their apartment were a couple dozen small rooms that were rented out to boarders, for whom Elder’s mother cooked meals.

Who names a baby Elder?

The Roman Block, built in 1914:

From this account of Iron Range Jewish heritage:

Built in 1914 by Joseph Roman, it initially housed the Rex Theater, which was operated by his wife, Katherine Roman, and the Roman Clothing Store

A theater, eh? Does the city have any others?

Oh, just you wait.

A relic, a survivor, a wonderful piece of 30s style:

It had a website, but it seems to be gone. Some entries call it "cafe" and others "bar." No reason it can't be both, but the sign in the window says 'Rummage Sale" - which suggests it's neither.

From the height of the city's ambition and confidence: the First National Bank.

The ground floor was remodeled during the era of modern barbarity. There's a name on the ground floor, on the right: T Square.

The website's logo, and URL, calls it the T Squared.

Old pictures call it the Tini Square.

I'll bet people still call it The First National Bank. More here, with some lovely photos.

Somewhere you'll find a 60s storefront called the Shoery, selling boots:

That name was so popular for a while, but it dates back to the teens and early 20s. It had a post-war vogue, and then seemed to die along with downtowns.

This . . . is fantastic.

If you wanted to design a building for Hortas and their offspring, this would be perfect.

The mines aren't what they used to be.

Sights like these weigh on the hearts of people who remember what the facade used to say, and what they used to sell.

They didn't exactly committ to the idea, as you see when you turn the corner:

Note the old window - I doubt it was original. Might have been a 30s or 40s addition.

Wouldn't be a Main Street entry without a little Buckaroo Revival, eh?


Really brought something to the building, didn't it?

The building on the corner has no name; whatever was written on the cornice fell off, or was removed.


Man named TwoCrow got stabbed there in '10.

Now then: the theater.

Oh my yes. Liebenberg & Kaplan, 1938.

Interior photos here.

If you're curious about the name: Minnesota Amusement Corporation.

Want more? Here's Virginia.