Ken Hammerschmidt has spent a lot of time in downtown Redwood Falls.
“I grew up only two-and-a-half blocks from the downtown area,” he said. “I used to walk through the area streets a lot and remember what it looked like in the 1960s, and from now all the way back to then I don’t remember this building ever having been painted…until now.”
His painting work began in earnest on the building located at Courthouse Square and South Washington Street when a family member loaned him the use of the necessary equipment.
“The kind of detail work along the top of this building made hiring out the labor or renting a cherry picker cost prohibitive,” he said.
Hammerschmidt pointed out some of the intricacies of the job itself.
“Each one of these little, decorative blocks along the roofline needed to be separately scraped and primed with an oil-based paint to prevent rust – it’s all an ornate, metal trim. The same goes for the panels around the windows," he said.
Hammerschmidt recounts how he started working downtown in retail at age 19.
According to his recollection, the building was owned by Glenn Hopfenspirger for many years, and Hammerschmidt remembers when it used to be a dress shop and the windows used to be a display area.
“The Hopfenspirgers lived in one of the apartments upstairs, and, after the dress shop, the building was rented to a loan company until the early 1970s when Coast to Coast purchased it and it became our hardware store,” Hammerschmidt recalled.
The facelift project actually began last year, sometime in August, and Hammerschmidt said he was able to paint until the last day of November due to the weather.
“It’s been a meticulous, long journey,” he said of the painting job, “Plus I have to work around the farming schedule and the weather. Just yesterday (June 12) I finished the last of the scraping and priming.”
Hammerschmidt’s family has something of a footprint downtown, he explained, and he doesn’t want to see the downtown area disappear. Part of his desire is perhaps nostalgia as he recalls his formative years in Redwood Falls. Another part is pride and the fact that he owns some of the real estate from his youth.
“I’ve always intended to do these kinds of repairs, but couldn’t until I had access to the proper equipment… Building upkeep really is a reflection of your inner character – it’s a reflection of how much you care about the downtown area – and there are a number of other downtown businesses also trying to freshen up their curb appeal, too,” he said.
With the bulk of the prep work completed, Hammerschmidt hopes that the project will pick up speed and that the final coat of paint will be laid down by the end of July.