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A last look at the former Kenmare Clothing building
as demolition got underway a week ago.
By Caroline Downs
Traffic stopped on the west side square in Kenmare Thursday and Friday as residents gathered to watch the demolition of a local landmark.
A crew tore down a pair of two-story brick buildings on the southwest corner. The last store to operate out of the buildings was the venerable Kenmare Clothing, which closed its doors in 2000.
The demolition was another step in the process to revitalize the west side square, where a new building is under construction in two phases to offer 24,000 square feet of retail space.
Phase I of the project, with State Bank & Trust of Kenmare president Jim Jorgenson as a principal, is making progress on the north half of the block.
Jamie Livingston of State Bank & Trust of Kenmare noted electrician and sheetrock crews are working in the new building now, with painters scheduled to arrive by late February or early March. Work will continue on the four stores there as a suspension ceiling is installed, followed by a flooring crew.
Livingston said no target move-in date has been announced for the stores that will be located in the Phase I building, including Kenmare Drug, Kenmare One Stop’s women’s and children’s clothing store, First District Health Unit and a laundromat.
Looking from the back alley, a track hoe crashes
through the upper level walls and floors.
Phase II launch
As the west exterior wall of the old Kenmare Clothing store came off last week, Phase II of the project was officially launched. “The crew is tearing down as much of the Kenmare Clothing building as they can without jeopardizing the structural soundness of the Gift Bank,” Livingston explained. “They want to see how the two buildings are attached before they proceed.”
He also said the demolition crew wanted to take advantage of frozen ground at the Kenmare landfill when hauling out the heavy loads of bricks, wood and metal from the building.
Dust rolled across the street as a track hoe knocked in the brick walls of the second story, but employees in Kenmare Drug next door reported no disturbances.
“We hear noises, but we haven’t had any bumps or bangs,” said longtime employee Rosina Eymann. “They haven’t shaken us.”
Employee Cheryl Miller said they had been advised to remove fragile merchandise from the south wall of the Gift Bank, so some of the framed pictures and glass decorative items were placed in other locations around the store. However, that wall was not impacted during demolition efforts Friday afternoon.
Several onlookers parked across the street on the east and south sides of the old building to watch the crew’s progress. Other residents drove by slowly to view the track hoe’s work.
“It’s sad to see it come down,” said Lane Schock as she spent part of her afternoon enjoying a coffee break in Kenmare Drug’s White Buffalo Soda Fountain, which is scheduled to move with the drug store.
The clothing business in Kenmare was first established in 1927 in the Viggo Sorensen and L.P. Hansen store on the east side square. In 1940, the stock from that store was moved to the west side location. By October 1956, Sorensen and Hansen sold their business, which featured men’s and boys’ wear, to Mr. Paulsen and A.L. Reep, who renamed the store as Kenmare Clothing.
The business was bought in January 1963 by Carl and Howard Larsen, and sold again in August of that year to Gil Rauschenberger. His son Ron and wife Laurie Rauschenberger joined Kenmare Clothing in January 1981.
Kitty Washek (Dill) opened Kitty’s Fashions for women next door to Kenmare Clothing in 1971. That portion of the building had previously been a grocery store.
By 1992, Ron and Laurie Rauschenberger purchased Kitty’s Fashions and combined it with the Kenmare Clothing operation by opening an archway between the two stores.
By Monday morning, only snow-covered debris remained at the site.
More new space available
After Kenmare Drug relocates, demolition on the south half of the block will continue and four 35’ x 80’ stores will be constructed in Phase II of the project. At this time, a portion of that retail space is still available.
Persons or business interested in a Phase II store should contact Livingston at 701-385-4287 for more information.