The Free Press

ST. PETER — Highway 169 runs past a park in St. Peter that’s long been the site of outdoor concerts.

Minnesota Square Park was established in 1854 on the town’s original plat, according to St. Peter’s website.

In the early 1900s, a single light bulb hung over the crossing of paths in the center of a park.

An elementary school (Washington) once was located on the southwest corner of the park.

In 1964, a pavilion was built to replace the bandshell.

By 1990, many community volunteers were needed to work on repairs to the pavilion.

The deteriorating structure was razed earlier this year to make room for the recently completed new pavilion, which is being used this weekend for the annual Rock Bend Folk Fest.

The new structure is in about the same spot as the park’s first stage for musicians.

Nicollet County Historical Society’s archives include a Nov. 29, 1935, St. Peter Herald article about the construction of a bandstand in Minnesota Square Park.

City Council President Frank Hughes had called a special meeting and the council voted to complete the bandstand and use materials from two local firms.

Standard Lumber Co. was contracted for the project’s necessary mill work. Several weeks earlier, the federal Works Progress Administration had approved the park bandstand as a work-relief project.

The government agreed to supply $440 in labor for the project. St. Peter officials estimated the city would have to kick in about $600.

Ole Frederickson was the council’s pick for the project’s foreman.

Plans called for wooden pillars that had to be manufactured specially.

Bandstand plans also called for a wooden roof. Charles Warner was to supply the tin for a protective roof layer.

First started under the Civil Works Administration, the project had been continued under another government program. Completion of the bandstand brought about several years of work relief labor on the job.

Bob Sandeen, Nicollet County Historical Society volunteer archivist, said a 1947 article about Minnesota Square Park makes it clear the bandstand took a very long time to complete.

“Bearing a striking resemblance of a bass drum tipped over on its side, the new St. Peter bandstand, located in the center of Minnesota Square Park, is now completed with the exception of landscaping work. The bandstand, recently authorized by the city council at a cost of $1,500 is described by Earl J. Erickson, director of the Concert Band, as acoustically perfect as being indicated by recordings by the group.

The two members of the park committee George Anderson and Curtis Leverson were in active charge of completing construction details. Designing was done by Henry Gerlich, Mankato architect.

The structure has elevated risers, each of which is 12 inches high. Inside measurement is 35 feet and it can seat 75 musicians comfortably.

The exterior is of Brikcrete, a new building product being manufactured in St. Peter, with the open areas being screened with copper wire.

Lighting is all indirect, preventing glare.

The base of the building was built in 1933 with a WPA grant and was designed for its present purpose.”