New historical bench plaques part of revitalizing downtown

Staff photo Plaques giving information on New Ulm’s historic district have been added to benches in downtown New Ulm.

NEW ULM — Residents and visitors to downtown New Ulm now have a few more places to sit and relax, meet for coffee and conversation, have lunch, work on their devices and just enjoy being outdoors in the downtown atmosphere, thanks to a project created and implemented by the Heart of New Ulm (HONU) and the Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Action Team/Minnesota Main Street Program.

During the week of June 10, historical plaques were added to 20 of the single benches throughout downtown, and there are plans to have the nine tables located downtown wrapped with additional historical photos and information. It’s all part of a project to revitalize downtown that was completely funded by an AARP Community Challenge Grant awarded last August to the Downtown Action Team/Minnesota Main Street Program.

“After the New Ulm City Council approved the project, the teams spent many volunteer hours working with the Brown County Historical Society to gather information and pictures and develop the themes for the plaques,” explained Cindy Winters, HONU project advisor. “The single bench plaques were designed to celebrate and educate residents and visitors on things that are/were special to New Ulm.”

Each intersection’s plaques have a different theme: 1st South St. is Transportation; Center St. is Downtown/Commerce; 1st North St. is Celebrations; 2nd North St. is Entertainment/Recreation; and 3rd North St. is Architecture. The background colors on the plaques are unique to each intersection, and coordinate with the upcoming new downtown banners, wayfinding signs and public parking lot signs being created by the Downtown Action Team/Minnesota Main Street Program, and the new Broadway and 7th North St. banners being created by the Chamber’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Committee.

“We encourage people to get out and do a walking tour of downtown and explore all of the wonderful new plaques,” said Winters. “Even lifelong New Ulm residents may discover some interesting facts about our city’s history that they didn’t know before!”

The Downtown Action Team was one of the first groups developed during New Ulm’s 2016 Community Visioning event. Work in New Ulm’s downtown was viewed as vitally important to the community. The Downtown Action Team became the steering committee for the Minnesota Mainstream program, which provides funding to support the revitalization work while maintaining the history and culture of the downtown. The work of this group actively supports the Heart of New Ulm’s vision to support a culture of wellness.


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