LINDSBORG – As the witch Corona lurks, we share a time of anxiety and hope in equal parts. We’re uncertain about many things, starting with our health, our work, our humanity, our faith. We try to navigate through the mists and to reach for something firm and immutable and hang onto it.
Assurance can come with a look around, on foot or on cycle, or from the seat of a car. One source of the strength in this community is in its buildings, the faith of the people who put them up long ago and the resolve of those who live and work in them today.
The Post Office, at the northwest corner of Second and Lincoln, has been there since 1936. A brass plate near the door announces status with the National Register of Historic Places. A stone inlay in the brick planter notes the officials responsible, in 1935: Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of the Treasury; James A. Farley, Postmaster General; Louis A. Simon, supervising architect; Neal A. Melick, supervising engineer.
Above the front door is a fine clerestory, its painted flowers brilliant along the frame and panes. Inside, magnificence in a small space: the old wood, polished; the heavy, high writing tables; the etched and frosted glass in doors that say Janitor, and Postmaster. On the west wall above the oak of the Postmaster’s door, the striking Sandzén mural, Kansas Stream.
Fresh lines have been put on the floor, Plexiglas shields the teller’s window and a red X tells patrons to keep a distance, beware the witch’s virus
East of the framed teller windows, a small alcove with its history alive in rows and columns of brass drawers and boxes with raised numbers and tiny windows, keyholes at the ready. These walls of wood and buffed metal speak of times when things were sturdy and complete and unalloyed.
It’s been seven years since crews put the finishing touches on the J.O. Sundstrom Building, a resurrection of 1800s history with refinements that carry it well into the future. The building, west of the Post Office, is historic but not an officially preserved inheritance; it’s a conference center, and an anchor yet for the community’s historic footings. Even after the workers put flesh on its new bones, the structure retains a venerable spirit, a kind of community Old Testament with its ageless rhythms, its looming pediment.
Other buildings in Lindsborg add to a register of historic places: City Hall, site of the former Farmers State Bank; Blacksmith Coffee Roastery; nearby, the old Hjerpe Grocery (formerly Elizabeth’s) and Smoky Hill Winery; east across Main, the vacant Sarahndipity (Wild Dala Winery); and the Rendezvous Outfitters store (in earlier times, Studio Lindsborg and the Old Grind).
Elsewhere in Lindsborg, the Smoky Valley Roller Mill; the Johnson home (lately Lee and Susie Ruggles), 226 W. Lincoln; the Teichgraeber-Runbeck House at 116 Mill; and the Swedish Pavilion. Add to this more than a half-dozen wonderful structures that developer Jim Prugh has returned to full life; the Applequists’ revived Swedish Crown restaurant (now a Bethany College venture); and the Shupbachs’ renovated Dröm Sött (Sweet Dreams ) Inn, once the Swedish Country Inn. These and others add up to vitality, confidence, promise.
The old Post Office, Sundstrom Center and other revivals may be upscale and redolent in their newness, but they belong yet to history, to the lineage of a community that has consumed and shaped so many tribes and clans and ancestries, irrevocably, and forever.
No amount of fresh paint and brick and metal, no load of new carpet and hyper-technology can obscure the definition and chronology of these structures, the excesses of their elements, the exquisite tension of their memory.