Community steps up for Red Rock Center

FAIRMONT – Last week, a deep hole filled the space where Red Rock Center for the Arts’ front steps usually reside, as workers dug out the crumbling original limestone and worked to replace it.

The project is the culmination of the non-profit’s Step Up campaign, to replace the 115-year-old steps.

Red Rock director Sonja Fortune said the steps had to be replaced with something that carefully matched.

“Due to very specific guidelines put forth by the Minnesota Historical Society, the new steps will resemble the old in design, color, texture and materials,” she wrote in an email to the Sentinel.

Funds for the project were raised partly through donations and partly through a grant from the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant.

Fortune said Red Rock used proceeds from four Tuesday Lunch with the Arts events and two community concerts, along with individual donations. A plea was sent out in October, and funds were raised by December.

“I think people dug a little deeper in their pockets to help out,” Fortune wrote. “We recognized 17 couples and two area business for their support of $250 or more.”

Red Rock Center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Replacing the steps has been on the Red Rock’s to-do list for years, but recent deterioration moved the project priority.

“The joints had shifted and caused crumbling and cracking beyond repair,” Fortune wrote, “and posed a safety issue.”

The arts center remained open during the renovations, with access through a back door. The new steps had to be usable by the end of last week because of an event.

Finishing touches will be completed this week.

“We are all very grateful for the support shown by the community,” Fortune wrote. “These old steps have served our building well, and the new steps will continue to do so for many generations to come.”