No bids to preserve Anoka’s stone house

The Anoka City Council had expected to make a decision at Monday’s meeting on the preservation of the Rum River stone house.

The stone house sits in the Rum River, near the foot bridge.
The stone house sits in the Rum River, near the foot bridge.File photo

But no contractors bid on the project.

Public Services Director Greg Lee said he followed up with five companies that would do this type of work.

Three said they were not interested in the project, but two others said the timing was difficult and they were not able to get quotes from subcontractors to meet the Sept. 11 bid deadline.

“Our proposal is to extend the date and bring quotes back Oct. 1,” said Lee.

At that time the ccouncil could vote to award a contract.

Staff has also been in touch with a company that has done work at the Minnesota Zoo, which might also be interested in the project, Lee said.

Preserving the stone house, built by the Giddings family 90 years ago, has been a topic of discussion for city leaders.

The Rum River has taken its toll on the historic structure, and the city is now at a point where it either has to do something to preserve what’s left or let Mother Nature take her course.

“It is not without controversy that we would a restore a historic structure or at least preserve it,” said Mayor Phil Rice, who said prior to the meeting a constituent urged him to vote no on doing work to the stone house.

Lee said the city is only looking to preserve and stabilize what’s left of the stone house, not restore it.

At a work session last month the council heard it could cost as much as $300,000 to completely restore the stone house to current engineering standards.

At the time City Manager Tim Cruikshank said that level of spending on the historic structure was not realistic.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at
[email protected]

  • Pat

    Todd Arnold and Dale McKusick commented on the last article with regard to the stone house and said they bid the job at thirty thousand. Seems like a good “news hound” would have brought this up.

  • Skip Rither

    It is unfortunate that we often have difficulty recognizing what is truly historical and significant in a community. For example, the Carnegie library on the corner of Third and Jackson was built in 1904 and the stately Anoka County courthouse across the street was built in 1878. We lost interest in those splendid structures and were seduced into desiring something new to serve commerce and government and both buildings were subsequently demolished and the dusty rubble trucked off to an unknown and inglorious burial ground. It is odd that the city is now contemplating spending money to “preserve and stabilize” the remnant of a stone “house” whose historical significance is nonexistent save for the fact that it was built for the private use of a former resident. It is likely that the stones used in the construction of this nondescript “house” were gathered up from the river bed. It would be better to allow time and the weather to continue to dismantle the structure and return the stones to their rightful owner, the Rum River.

  • Linda Sheils

    As is the case in these fast moving times of our modern world, everything seems to be replaceable and disposable. Of all the cities in the Metropolitan area, I have remained in Anoka because it is the only town I know of that still feels like a true community. The city has maintained the character and warmth that Anoka has offered its residents and visitors since its birth. The police and fire departments know its residents personally. Our children are growing up in a city where faces are familiar at the department and grocery stores. We know the store clerks by name, we know our neighbors, we gather for Christmas Tree lighting ceremonies and Halloween Parades. We have ice cream socials with the Mayor. We gather for free concerts in the park and for the old car show on Saturday nights. How could it be possible that we would let something as unique as the stone house, simply wash away? How could such a tiny little structure cost $30,000.00 to restore? It was built with mortar and stone….can we not invest in a few more bags of mortar? The stone house does not need to be restored to its original state…what makes it so lovely is that it is “living history”. It is a place for young lovers to sit upon its roof or a place where children peer out its windows and pretend they are defending a fort during battle….or simply to just remain in its place to be viewed and admired as it has been for decades. The stone house is as much a part of Anoka’s charm as any other structure that has a living, breathing, history behind its formation. I, for one, would be happy to donate to its repair….so that it remains steady in its place, ever watchful over the many wishes, hopes, and dreams that have been spread over the Rum River from the hearts of every person who has pondered life’s challenges while gazing upon it.