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Echo Press file photo Brandon Community Center was built in 1936.

Historic building in Brandon gets boost

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A plan to restore the historic Brandon Community Center recently received a big boost.

The Otto Bremer Foundation announced last week that it is contributing $40,000 toward the project. It's one of 28 grants totaling just over $1 million the foundation awarded in Minnesota for the month of November 2009.

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Brandon Mayor Doug Johnson said the grant will help a project that the entire community has been planning and supporting for years. He said the city is continuing to work on other grants and the Bremer funding definitely helps the effort.

Johnson said the grant would go toward making interior improvements.

The community center, also known as "The Hall," was completed in 1936 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project and sits on the site of Brandon's original 1890 town hall.

It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Through the decades, the building has provided vivid memories for generations of families by housing all kinds of social and civic events.

Within its walls, residents have enjoyed rollerskating, dancing, movies, plays and basketball games. They've celebrated wedding receptions, anniversaries and special parties. They've played bingo there, voted for political candidates, donated blood and attended meetings.

The Hall also once housed city offices and the fire department.

The auditorium is still used for many purposes today, and serves as home to the Brandon History Center.

But at 74 years old, the building needs repair and renovations.

Some renovations, such as new windows, took place in 1991, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation. But much more needs to be done, according to city leaders. They're in the process of gathering estimates for the needed repairs and putting together bids.

Anyone interested in supporting the project should call Karen Thoennes at (320) 524-2260.

About the Otto Bremer Foundation

Created in 1944, the Otto Bremer Foundation assists people in achieving full economic, civic, and social participation in and for the betterment of their communities.

The foundation's work to help build and maintain vibrant communities is based on the vision and legacy of Otto Bremer, whose commitment to Bremer Bank communities and to those working to make their lives better continues to guide the foundation.

The Otto Bremer Foundation owns the majority share of Bremer Bank, and a portion of the bank's profits comes to the Foundation as dividends, enabling the Foundation to invest back in the bank communities in the form of grants and program-related investments.

Organizations whose beneficiaries are residents of Minnesota, North Dakota, or Wisconsin are eligible to apply for foundation grants, with priority given to communities served by Bremer Bank.

For more information about the Otto Bremer Foundation, visit the website www.ottobremer.org or call 1-888-291-1123.

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