Former Bank of Fisher demolished

Submitted by Jerry and Alvern Wentzel
Crookston Times

    November 9, 2020, an excavator razed the 140 year old former Bank of Fisher building on the south side of Thompson Avenue in Fisher, Minnesota.  The building, owned by Mike Vasek, had sat empty for several years.  Recently a portion of brickwork on the structure’s west side tumbled to the ground.  The bank building was believed to be one of the town’s three oldest structures, dating from 1880.  It was constructed right after the end of the steamboat era on the Red Lake River.

    An article in the June 12, 1880 Fisher Bulletin described the excitement at the building’s completion.

“THE FURNITURE STORE”

        “DeMers & Thompson’s furniture store and warehouse on Thompson Avenue between Second and Third streets was formally opened for business on Monday last and is now in full headway.  

    This branch of trade has been expected for a long time, but the most sanguine did not imagine that when opened it would be presented in such a complete and comprehensive sale.  The building is 22 x 50 feet, two stories high, with a large garret suitable for the storage of furniture in the rough.  On the first floor we find a  large and finely finished office, with the handsomest desk fixtures and railing to be found in the valley.  

    Taber & Dorn did the finishing work, and Oleson did the graining and painting, and all have performed their work well.  To the rear of the office is a large store room, full to the ceiling with molding, sash, doors and building paper of all grades, sizes and shapes.  Ascending the stairway we are in the room set apart for the exhibition of the many varieties of furniture.  This firm has in stock (not samples but a supply) no less than 20 different styles of chairs and some 25 kinds of bedsteads which range from the commonest to the most elegant. Elegant chamber sets, parlor sets, lounges, easy chairs, and a host of attractive necessaries are found here in great variety.  

    The furniture is purchased and shipped here in the “knock-down” or unfinished state, and is put together on its arrival by a thorough, practical cabinet maker and finisher, and this method saves to the purchaser fully 20 percent in cost, and gives him the satisfaction of obtaining furniture that is not racked and damaged by a journey of many miles over a railroad.  People when purchasing or intending to purchase furniture should not fail to visit this emporium, and at least look it over.”

    The building also housed the office for the Red Lake Flour Mill which stood on the west of the same city block. The Fisher Post Office operated for a time out of the building.   The Bank of Fisher, which was organized in 1879, moved into the DeMers and Thompson furniture store at a later date.

    Directors of the Bank of Fisher were Marcus Johnson, Gunder Krostue, Andrew Stortroen, (who moved to Fisher from Climax), and Sam and Alfred Torrison.  Nels Peterson worked for the bank from 1910-1927.

    On March 31, 1925 a fire broke out in the Hamilton building across the alley from the Bank of Fisher.  The bank survived the blaze but eight other nearby buildings were destroyed. Following the fire, Alfred Torrison had the bank building clad with a brick exterior.

    The Bank of Fisher merged with the Fisher Red River State Bank in 1927.  By the early 1930’s a barbershop operated in the former Bank of Fisher building.

    Many Fisherites still remember getting their hair cuts by Karl Rossberg who barbered there until 1970.

    Fisher’s telephone exchange operated in the upper story of the building, possibly as early as 1895 until 1956.  Jessie Stevens Tangen, Rosella Larson Lunos, Frances Anderson Sullivan, and Nellie Benson were switchboard operators over the years.  Each operator lived in the upper story apartment with family while working there.

    R. T. Adams owned the building for many years and had a land office located on the east side of the ground floor.

Bank of Fisher 1899
Former Bank of Fisher demolished
Barbers pictured are Albert Strande and Karl
Rossberg.