MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It has been nearly two weeks since a fire badly damaged an historic landmark in Northfield.
The Archer House River Inn was built in 1877. More recently, a number of businesses were working out of the building and are now displaced due to the fire.
Among the businesses badly damaged on Nov. 12 was the Paper Petalum, a gift store located in the Archer House. The couple that owns the store, Karen and Denny Vinar, just bought it in January.
“I said, ‘What do I do?’ Dennis said, ‘Grab the cash and get out of here!’” Karen said.
Denny says they lost everything from the fire, which began in the Smoqehouse restaurant. And while it never reached their store, the Vinars’ merchandise couldn’t escape the damage.
“Everything was either smoke damaged or water damaged because the sprinklers went off,” Karen said.
As the Vinars and others try to figure out their next step, local artist David Allen is providing a light through the smoke and soot.
“It’s just kind of heartbreaking. Don’t know if it’s going to go completely away. Then what?” David said.
He has painted the Archer House many times over the years.
“This is difficult to paint because there are so many nooks and crannies,” he said.
After seeing the damage, David decided to paint the building one more time, but not for his benefit.
“I’d like to capture it the way it was, and I thought it would be a great idea to raise some money,” he said.
It took him 16 hours to finish, and he’s now selling prints and cards of his work. All the money received will go towards the businesses most impacted by the fire.
“It’s working the way we hoped. It’ll be fairly successful,” David said.
In a way, he’s helping to give new life to both a building and a business.
“The fact that he is working so diligently is wonderful,” Karen said.
Denny calls David “a tremendous man.”
“The whole town has been wonderful,” Denny said.
David has already raised nearly $4,000 through his Archer House prints.
Northfield’s fire chief said a cause hasn’t been determined as of yet, but the fire is not considered suspicious.
It’s not clear yet if there are plans to rebuild the sections that were damaged by the fire.
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