Anoka County history: Building at Bar-None commences

by June Anderson 

This is a continuation of the “Noltes of Bar-None” begun in last week’s ABC Newspapers.

The first summer camp at Bar-None Boys’ Ranch was held in 1955 in tents.

On Sept. 18, 1955 Charles Brandon Booth, commander-in-chief of the VOA, presided at the dedication of Bar-None in its new location.

VOA sold the Mound camp along with its properties in Minneapolis.

The monies went into the development of the new Bar-None Boys’ Ranch.

In 1957 construction began on the James R. Stewart Lodge, a central facility with a dining hall wing and recreational wing.

Chet (Chester) MacArthur took on the job of getting donated materials; James Stewart provided out-of-pocket expenses; and the Building Trades Council agreed to provide the labor.

There was just one minor hitch.

The proposed building sat astride two townships and one of them refused to grant a building permit.

The cost of a permit was based on the cost of the building which, in this case, was minimal because of donated labor and materials.

The building inspector who had jurisdiction over the east half of Stewart Lodge refused to issue a permit, probably because his pay was based on the fee and he wouldn’t make any money on it.

When 50 volunteer carpenters from the Building Trades Council arrived that weekend they found the framework plastered with condemned signs.

They removed the signs from the west half of the building and went to work.

A trip to the office of the township attorney confirmed that the cost of the permit was to be based on cost of the building and not its value and a red-faced building inspector issued the permit for the east side.

Stewart Lodge was dedicated on May 5, 1959.

Near Stewart Lodge is a small wooden building with a rounded roof topped by a cupola with a cross atop it.

It is the Bar-None Chapel. The stained glass window over the altar features little children, a skunk, snail, frog, fish, butterflies, and flowers.

It includes a snowflake, rain drop, and other wonders for the children to behold when they worship.

And down in the corner is a little burro.

In 1957 Chet MacArthur bought the adjacent 80 acre Warner farm northwest of Bar-None and gave it to VOA.

The Warners had life tenancy and Mrs. Warner was one of the “aunties” who cooked for the boys.

When the Warner estate was closed, their home became “Big B” (Big Boys’ residence.)

Russ and Dorothy Dunlop joined the staff in 1958.

According to Russ, he and Bob had met at Northland Rec Lab.

At 1 a.m. in the morning when Russ was still up enjoying the activities, Bob approached him and said, “I’d like you to come see Bar-None.”

Bob’s enthusiasm for his project was contagious and he soon had Russ talked into joining him.

Russ arrived back home in Iowa at three in the morning and proceeded to convince his wife Dorothy, a schoolteacher, that they should pull up roots and move to Anoka.

She agreed. Russ resigned his pulpit; Dorothy quit her teaching job and they took up residence in a five-bedroom home on Highway 56 with their son and daughter.

It later became the group home known as “Horseshoe House” because of its horseshoe shaped driveway.

Russ’s job was to help get facilities and programs under way.

“I was Bob’s ‘go-for’,” says Russ.

The Navy had given Bar-None the salvage rights to nine barracks at Wold Chamberlain Airport (now Minneapolis-St. Paul International).

Every weekend Russ would drive down Washington Avenue in Minneapolis and pick up four burly guys to help him work on demolishing the buildings which they loaded up on his truck so the kids back at the ranch could pull the nails and salvage the lumber for their building projects.

“I helped build the ranch as well as work with the kids,” said Russ.

Next week: Programs expand at Bar-None.

Editor’s note: June Anderson is a member volunteer of the Anoka County Historical Society. She can be reached by e-mail at  [email protected] .

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