Badly-needed upgrades continue at Cloquet's Frank Lloyd Wright stationThere’s a new glint to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed service station in Cloquet.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
There’s a new glint to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed service station in Cloquet.
A shiny copper strip now runs around the building near the roof line and while it may seem like a small detail, it signals the commitment of the McKinney family to bringing the station back to its intended splendor.
That’s how it was done originally,” said Mike McKinney about the copper. McKinney, with his family, owns the still-operating service station.
The only Wright building of its kind, it was largely neglected in the past 30 years. The recent renaissance came with its 50th anniversary last year.
“Forming a committee to plan the event was the impetus we needed to rededicate and refocus some of our energy on the station,” McKinney said. “We want to make huge strides … as we can afford, to really bring it back to shape.”
Nearly $150,000 was put into the station last year, from renovating the lounge bathrooms and fortifying the ceiling to painting the inside of the station and service bays.
Some $90,000 was spent this year, with help from a $20,000 community development grant.
“That grant really helped us with the new roof and insulation,” he said. “We could have done things that would have been prettier, but this work will ensure the integrity of the building for years to come.”
The concrete in the parking lot and around the gas pumps was torn up and redone just last week, new 1950s garbage cans have been installed and the Frank Lloyd Wright font type has been used in new wording in the lounge.
Carlton County Historical Society Director Annie Dugan has been watching the work with interest.
“Continued kudos to [the McKinney family] on the beautiful attention and preservation of their service station,” she said.
McKinney admitted one project was overlooked this year.
“We dropped the ball on having flowers as we did last year and as Wright intended,” he said. “We didn’t remember until August, so we’ll get back to that next year.”
Tourists have continued to stop at the station, to look around and take photos. McKinney has noticed a few people even spending a little time in the lounge.
“I’ve seen people just sitting in the chairs, reading the newspaper, looking at our display and out at the river,” he said.
McKinney also said “a special surprise” will appear at the station sometime in the next month.
“It’s kind of a custom deal,” he said. “It might be nice and it might be kind of cornball, but we’re definitely having fun bringing [the station] back.”