Kirsch Building Down

The City of Victoria acquired a purchase agreement for the Kirsch building in downtown Victoria in June 2010.  Purchase price:  $145,000.  As with several other old buildings in town purchased by the city over these past couple decades, downtown redevelopment was the moving force behind the purchase and demolition.  All the photos appear in the sequence in which I took them.

The tumbling began just after 12 noon on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010.

After 62 years of occupying a central location in downtown Victoria, it was time to leave the scene.

Formerly the warehouse of Kirsch Beer Distributing . . .

 . . . it became the residence of Jerome and Lavonne Kirsch these past few years.

The bedroom was immediately behind the only front window on Rose Street.

Some observers that afternoon included (l-r) Steve Kirsch of Maple Grove (who happened by after a morning of fishing in Waconia), Morrie and Rick Leuthner (their well shop is across the street), Tom Gray (Victoria Building Official), and Kelly Grinnell (Victoria City Accountant).

Steve Kirsch was watching the demolition with obvious interest.  “I just happened to be driving by as they were tearing off this roof so I stopped.  I was fishing on Lake Waconia.”

Steve had answers to many questions.  “My dad, John Jacob Kirsch, built this warehouse in 1947, two years before I was born,” he said.  “John Jacob was the first and only distributor here.”

“Irwin Kirsch, my dad’s brother, did all the lumber and carpentry work.  Irwin died in 1959 at the age of 59.  My dad died in 1962 at the age of 62.”

“Irwin Kirsch also built those two houses  in Victoria next to the Cenex station and also the Casper house on the next street,” said Steve.  “I grew up in the Casper house until 1957.  Then we moved to the house on the east side of the Apple Farm, the one-story rambler where my sister Lavonne lives.”

Steve said he is one of eight siblings born to John  Jacob and Valeria Kirsch and he named them in order of birth:  Joanne, Lavonne, Johnny, Julene, Barbara, Mary, Steve, and Janice who died at the age of 4 months.

“My mother died in 2002, on December 25th, at the little hospice in Edina,” said Steve.  “That’s where I spent that Christmas morning.”

As the Victoria Fire Department helped to squelch the dust that rose from the demolition work, Steve Kirsch continued the history, telling me that his mother Valeria was his dad’s second wife.  John Jacob Kirsch and his first wife, Anna who died at the age of 32 or 33, had five children.

Those five children:  Irene, Leland (who died as an infant), Kenneth, Jerome, and Francis John (who also died as an infant).  That makes Jerome (who lived in the brick warehouse with his wife Lavonne before he died in August, 2009)  a half brother to Steve.

Steve’s story continued, as did the demolition of his father’s beer distributor warehouse.  This entire wall, as shown above, came tumbling down in one fell swoop at 2:00 p.m., two hours after the demolition began. 

This Kirsch building was located, as can be seen, immediately adjacent to the Victoria City Offices.  If their walls didn’t actually touch each other, the six decades of cobwebs between them most likely did touch. 

I suspect that one day City Offices and City Hall (formerly referred to as the Village Hall) will also disappear one day from the downtown landscape.  In the meantime, with the Kirsch building now gone, there will be 18 new parking spaces for city staff and the public in general.

When the big yellow digger reached the center of the warehouse, the beer cooler inside became visible.

Steve Kirsch was joined by another observer, Margie Robling who lives just across Highway 5, a couple houses down Victoria Drive.

The solid beer cooler wasn’t going to come down as easy as the timbers above it.

This view, from the back door, shows that there were steps next to the cement-brick cooler that led to a storage area where the equipment that created the cooling was located.

Several of the city staff members stepped outdoors to watch the goings on that Tuesday afternoon, perhaps even a bit fearful their own walls could be affected by the demolition project.  They weren’t.  That’s Tom Gray again (Victoria Building Official who was privy to the inside of this building prior to demolition), Holly Kreft (Victoria Community Development Director), and Jennifer Kretsch (Victoria City Clerk.)  Behind Jennie you can see the two houses built by Irwin Kirsch.

Steve Kirsch said he was too little to help his dad distribute beer, but his big brother Johnny helped out and Steve would sometimes ride along.

Most of the beer went to Chaska, Pauly’s in Chanhassen, and Schmid Bros Bar, Boll’s Bar, and Leo’s Bar in Victoria.  “Chaska was a hot spot,” said Steve.

“We sold mainly Grain Belt and also White Label Beer as a sideline,” he said.  “White Label was like Pfeiffer’s.  It was good  beer.”

Steve said his dad actually started the beer distributorship in Victoria in 1933 in a warehouse that later became Lenny Koehnen’s first auto mechanic garage.

Unlike this second Kirsch warehouse, the first Kirsch warehouse still stands today and is home to another Victoria business called Signature Electric.

Steve Kirsch left the demolition site before the building was completely down.  After all, he is a family man and his wife Gail awaited his return home.  They have two daughters and four grandchildren.

The sunny afternoon made the fall colors on Rose Street even more vibrant, and they coordinated well with the red fire truck that continued to assist with dust control as needed.  Most of the time it was Firefighter Troy Walsh on duty.  Troy also works in the Victoria Public Works Department.

The big scoop continued to do its damage, having now emptied all of the insides and most of the roofing.

The back curved wood façade was about to go next

There it went.

Then it was smashed.

It appears that Biff’s Boxes is sending out the stream of water to settle the dust.

Do you think there’s gold at the end of that rainbow????

In case you think the rainbow was a mirage, here’s another shot of it.

I took this angle from the open top deck of Floyd’s Bar (“formerly Leo’s”) located on the same block at the corner intersection at Highway 5 and Victoria Drive.

The scoop belonged to Fred Farr of Delano, pictured above, who won the right to the demolition project because he submitted the low bid of $8,500 which included removal of the debris.

Asbestos abatement was previously performed by Trinity Environmental of Roseville at a cost of $4,560.

The walls kept tumbling down and cement blocks of the back wall appeared easy to topple.

Now, as you can see, the Clocktower Building on Main Street is visible from Rose Street!

A short side wall remained, but not for long.

The three tiny windows, comprised of glass like the bottom of coke bottles, never let in much light.

Now the Johnson house on Main Street becomes visible from Rose Street.

The digger grabs the southeast corner of what’s left of the Kirsch building.

Now the wooden fence around the Johnson house is visible and gives less privacy to that family home.  In fact, all of Main Street Victoria opened up to a much greater degree with this demolition.  I’ve heard that a street access might be made here next to the Victoria Post Office, that would provide another entry to the parking lot plus an easier and safer access to an outdoor drop box of the Post Office.  Redevelopment in downtown Victoria continues!