by TaLeiza Calloway
In 1958, Ellie Studer married her husband, Darol. They held their reception at the St. Joseph VFW—the building that is now the former site of the Central Minnesota Credit Union at 35 College Ave. N.
When the building was built in November 1904, it was home to the First State Bank of St. Joseph. In 1917 the bank moved to Minnesota Street but made its way back to College Avenue in 1980, according to the history book, “St. Joseph: Preserving Heritage.”
In the 1930s, the space operated as a Feed Mill. Don “Bud” Reber remembers this well as it was a one-stop shop for everyone where people would visit with one another.
“On the south side of the feed mill, you could drive through and there was a platform that held the grinders, ” Reber said. “People would do all their shopping in one day. It’s kind of sad to see it destroyed.”
Last month the St. Joseph City Council voted to demolish the former Central Minnesota Credit Union building. The decision came as part of efforts to expand city offices and create a community center. While Reber and Studer, both members of the St. Joseph Area Historical Society, are disappointed to hear of the building’s fate, what they want more is for residents to know about the site’s historical connection to the city.
“Many people don’t know the history of the building,” Studer said. “I hope they find out what it was. It means a lot to some of us older people here.”
Years after the site housed a feed mill, it served as a place for veterans. VFW Post 5773 was organized in 1946 with Wilfred Klein as commander.
One of the many things the VFW was known for was publishing “The Post News,” a newsletter that went out communitywide and kept track of all of the people serving in the military. Studer said the Post News also logged the addresses of soldiers so people could write St. Joseph residents who were serving.
“They don’t do that now,” Studer said. “We have no idea of who the people from St. Joseph are (who are) in the service.”
The VFW also held community dances; hosted chicken frys and supported the community in recreational activities. Studer even remembers the group having a bus that went out to Avon as part of a swimming program.
“They were very active in the community,” Reber said of the VFW.
Williams Funeral Home took ownership of the site after the VFW. The funeral home was there for a couple years and after that, it became the Credit Union.
“They put a lot of work in that building,” Studer said. “I was surprised when they decided to move. Businesses seem to be moving further from downtown.”
Times are simply different now, both Studers agreed.
No timeline has been set for when the building will be demolished. Staff from Justin Honer Excavating Inc. of St. Joseph has begun removing items from the building that will later be sold, staff said. Items include wooden desks, shelves and doors.