Relics photo essay: the Hotel Kaddatz in Fergus Falls

The light distribution and architectural balance throughout the main Kirkbride tower remains impressive despite obvious signs of deterioration. (Ann Arbor Miller for MPR)

The century-old Hotel Kaddatz in downtown Fergus Falls was vacant and falling apart when local residents stepped forward to save it. With the help of city leaders, community members put in money and volunteer hours to replace a failing roof and make other improvements.

How communities grapple with empty, iconic buildings is a topic Ground Level has been covering as part of our Reviving Minnesota Relics project.

The physical upgrades and widespread support for the preservation effort paved the way for Minneapolis-based Artspace to come in and spend more than $2 million to renovate the Kaddatz and convert it into artist lofts. “We met in the Fergus theater and talked about the arts needs in (the city),” recalled Greg Handberg, senior vice president of properties for Artspace. “We left impressed with the city’s support for the project. They built a case that was hard to say no to.”

Now, the building is a hub of arts activity, home to 10 artists and the Kaddatz Galleries, which emphasizes local talent like woodcut printmaker Charles Beck. “It was a tipping point,” said Maxine Adams, executive director of the Fergus Falls-based Lake Region Arts Council. “It added additional visibility for the arts. It added a lot to the quality of life here… It helps to keep in people’s minds that there is energy here and there are things going on. The arts can carry that message just as well as manufacturing does.”

Success with the Kaddatz led to a rich discussion around what to do with the city’s enormous former psychiatric hospital, often called the Kirkbride. Several weeks ago, the city partnered with a Georgia-based development group, which promises to turn in into a boutique hotel, apartments and restaurants.

Location: 111 W. Lincoln Ave.

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