The city of Winona, Minn. has undergone many changes since it was settled by in 1851. In 1853, the town was laid out into plots of land, with growth expanding the size of the town rapidly over the years. In 1857, Winona was officially incorporated as a city.
In the second half of the 19th century, the buildings of historic downtown Winona were constructed, most of which still stand today. Although the buildings still stand, changes have been made to them. Most of these changes were a result of Urban Renewal in the 1960s and President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.
In the following pictures, old and new photos have been combined with the use of photo illustration software to show just what kinds of changes have been made to buildings in Winona.
Pictures of original buildings are shown on the left while the modern building is on the right. In the middle, a ghostly image of the old building is visible through the image of the new building so changes to the buildings are made apparent.
Winona today is not the same as it was in 1860, 1900, or even 1990. As these pictures illustrate, Winona has undergone many changes over the course of its history so that the city can continue to expand.
Many people may know that Heart’s Desire has been a mainstay in Winona, MN since 1982, but the history behind its Third Street location isn’t as well known.
In 1861, Hannibal Choate, who was known as a pioneer of merchandising, built the Choate Building with the help of architect A.E. Myhre. Choate managed the Choate Department store in 1861 and after gaining complete control he expanded and created the Choate Block in the 1880’s, which became one of the finest department stores in this part of the country.
Along with Heart’s Desires, the upper levels of the building contain student housing and lawyer offices.
It was said that Winona once rivaled Hershey, Pa., as the U.S. candy capital. Second Street was the place where people came from different counties and states just get their candy rush. Companies such as A.M. Ramer, Schuler, the Foss Candy Co. and the Winona Candy Co. all had stores and factories along the street.
An economic depression and company buyouts led to the closing of the Winona Candy Co.
The current Chrysler of Winona dealership is located on Huff St, but that location used to be home one of the most important companies in Winona’s history.
Winona's gas works began operation in 1871 in a 2,000 square foot building.
In that first year, Winona burned about 3,500 cubic feet of gas, a figure that grew ten times in the next decade. In 1921, the Northern States Power (NSP) purchased the Minnesota Light and Power Company, which previously ran Winona’s gas works.
In 1960, the NSP ceased propane air sales and switched to natural gas resulting with Winona connecting to a transcontinental natural gas supply network.
Five years later, Winona’s gas works on Huff Street was leveled to make room for a new auto dealership, which is now occupied by the current Chrysler dealership.
Hot Fish Shop
On Christmas night 1931, Henry Kowalewski opened The Hot Fish Shop. The restaurant was formerly located at the intersection of Mankato Avenue and U.S. Hwy. 61 and was bought by the Winona School Board. The restaurant abruptly closed in February 1999, due to expenses and costs.
After nearly 70 years in business, Joe Coshenet, the grandson-in-law of the restaurant's founder and his son, Rick, re-opened the business in November of 2011 in Rochester.
The Quality Inn hotel located just off Hwy 61 offers a place for visitors to get away, but nearly 70 years ago, it was home to a different kind of resort.
Winn-Tee-Pee was open from 1934 to 1964. The resort housed cabins that offered motorists a cheap place to sleep and locals a place to get away. The cabins were available to rent by week, day or hour. “This gave it a somewhat dirty reputation,” said Walt Bennick.
Blanche Hunter, who was known as an eccentric and independent woman for the time, owned the cabins.
When Hunter passed away in 1964, Winn-Tee-Pee and the cabins were demolished.
Linnehan’s hotel was built in its place that year.
Perkins restaurant now shares the space with Quality Inn.
John Nett/Cotter Gym
John Nett began his coaching career at Winona Cotter High School in 1946 by coaching football, basketball and baseball. In 1951, his coaching career was interrupted during his service in the Korean War.
In 1977 and 1982 he coached the Cotter Ramblers to a Minnesota State championship.
He was 78 years old when he passed away on January 25, 1999.
He spent 34 years as Cotter head basketball coach and retired in 1984. With 584 wins and 296 losses, Nett was inducted Minnesota Hall of Fame in 1984.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation built the bridge in 1941-942. Construction on the bridge started just before the United States entered World War II.
The interstate bridge spans the Mississippi River between Winona, Minn. and Fountain City, Wis. On June 3, 2008, MnDOT announced that the bridge would close.
After several problems and public scrutiny, the bridge reopened 11 days later on June 14, 2008.
Henry Huff, one of Winona's founders who named and bought stake in the city in 1853, built the house in 1857.
One of the most active businessmen in Winona was Henry W. Lamberton, an attorney who came here in the 1850's and served as a railroad commissioner. He was one of the founders of the Winona Southwest railroad and later served as the president of that firm.
The 1.7-acre property, which includes a mansion, a carriage house and a court building, was later purchased by Lamberton, whose family lived there until 1956. The home was then used as an orphanage.
In 2011, the historic Huff-Lamberton house was sold to Winona's Bluff City Properties. Bluff City plans to use the mansion for older adult housing, while continuing to rent the carriage house and court building.
The house has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976. The listing doesn't restrict renovations, only recognizes the property's significance.