Growing up in Redwood Falls, Jonathan Moore had plenty of opportunities to learn about architecture as he followed his dad, Dennis, around the Schult Homes factory.
There he saw how houses manufactured in Redwood Falls came together.
That, said Moore, is likely where his interest in buildings and architecture began.
“I remember as early as age 11 saying I wanted to be either an architect or a park ranger,” said Moore. “Working as an historical architect for the National Park service today, I guess I got to be both.”
It was while he was living in a condominium in Minneapolis when Moore was able to regularly see a building that piqued his interest as an architect and recently resulted in recognition for him and a friend.
Earlier this year, Moore and Kimmy Tanaka were presented what is known as the Solon J. Buck Award, which honors excellence in research and writing for Minnesota History Magazine.
Moore and Tanaka wrote an article for the periodical that told the story of a site known as Fuji-Ya. Entitled “Fuji-Ya, Second to None: Reiko Weston’s Role in Reconnecting Minneapolis and the Mississippi River,” the article was published in the Fall 2018 edition and goes into great detail about Reiko Weston and the restaurant she had built in what was known as the milling district along the Mississippi River.
The Solon J. Buck Award has been presented since 1954 and is awarded to the best article of the year.
“When we set out to write the article, winning an award was certainly not our goal,” said Moore.”We just wanted to make sure that the story of Reiko Weston and Fuji-Ya was told.”
Receiving the news that the two of them had won the award came as a surprise, said Moore, adding it offered affirmation that they had done justice to the story.
According to Moore, Tanaka and he embarked on the endeavor in Spring 2017 and researched and wrote for at least a year.
“Both of us worked on the article on our own time, so we had to squeeze it in on evenings and weekends,” he explained. “We submitted our manuscript in May 2018.”
Moore added articles for Minnesota History go through a double blind peer review.
“This means the manuscript is vetted by reviewers with knowledge of the subject matter, but the authors do not know the identity of the reviewers and vice versa,” Moore explained. “We received comments back from the reviewers in July and submitted a revised version in August. One could say it was a longer process and more work than we anticipated, but it was well worth it in the end."
At the time Moore was writing the article in a personal capacity, he was also working as a park ranger for the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which is a unit of the National Park System that follows the Mississippi River for 72 miles as it courses through the Twin Cities.
“The Fuji-Ya building is within the park boundary and relates to the themes for which the park was designated, so it strongly related to my professional interests as well. I still work for the National Park Service today, but I am more focused on the St. Croix River on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, where I serve as historian for the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway,” he added.
The co-authors pitched the article to Laura Weber, the editor of Minnesota History, before they started writing.
According to Moore, she thought it sounded like a compelling story and was excited that it related to an aspect of Minnesota history that had not yet been well told.
“This was the first time being published in a magazine of this kind for both Kimmy and me,” Moore added.
Moore had received a Minnesota Historical Society grant several years earlier to conduct oral history interviews in Murray County. Those transcripts were compiled into books, but that was a very different kind of project where the narrators being interviewed created the content.
“We didn’t want the story of Reiko Weston and the legacy of her restaurant Fuji-Ya to be forgotten with the razing of the structure,” said Moore.
The two hope visitors to the Mississippi riverfront in downtown Minneapolis appreciate the role Weston and her vision played in the redevelopment of the area even if the restaurant is no longer there to see or experience.
“We did not know our article was going to be featured on the cover of the magazine until our printed copy showed up in October,” added Moore. “Much like the news of the Buck award, it was an unexpected surprise. We still maintain the true reward was having the opportunity to learn about Reiko Weston and to share her story with others.”