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Historic podcast program to premier at Sheldon

Historic buildings line the Riverfront Centre along Main Street in Red Wing. (Republican Eagle photo by Michael Brun)

By Ruth Nerhaugen, contributor

Thanks to modern technology, it's now possible to go on the "Footsteps through Historic Red Wing" walking tour without leaving home.

Red Wing's Heritage Preservation Commission has created a podcast — a digital media program that incorporates images, narration and music — illustrating the first 28 stops on the walking tour, including downtown and the adjacent Heritage Mall district.

A sampling of those 28 stops will be shown on the big screen at the Sheldon Theatre at 7 p.m. Sept. 4. Admission is free; everyone is invited.

The Heritage Preservation Commission began applying for grants more than a year ago after city staff liaison Steve Kohn suggested the project.

Kohn had seen podcasts created for Faribault and New Ulm by Minnesota historic preservationist Daniel Hoisington of Roseville, Minn.

"I suggested that it would be a way to get our message out and educate our residents and visitors" about Red Wing's heritage, Kohn said. A podcast could help develop "the preservation mindset" by helping people appreciate all that is here.

Hoisington, who calls the programs "pastcasts," combines photographs and video with a narration and music. The digital file is made available on YouTube, which anyone can access using a computer or a mobile device such as a smartphone or an iPad.

Hoisington will be at Wednesday's presentation to explain the process. The heritage commission, which is chaired by Lisbeth Butler, will have a handout explaining how people can access the podcast on the Web.

Commission members and some city staff created scripts for the 28 stops on the tour. They researched the buildings, looking for "people stories" associated with the structures, Butler said. Stories also cite architectural and historic significance.

For example, the episode on the Iron Works building tells the story of the Densmore brothers, who came home from the Civil War and began manufacturing agricultural machinery there. The Matt Anderson/Eagle building talks about the two editors who published the Republican and the Eagle, and how the two dailies came to merge.

In addition to commercial buildings, the program includes the development of Levee, John Rich and Central parks, the depot, some government buildings, the old Armory, T.B. Sheldon Auditorium and five churches on the historic mall.

Scripts were written by commissioners Nelson, Don Olson, Nan Kafka, Gary Stone, Annette Martin, Ruth Nerhaugen, with help from member Doug Fryer. Kohn and Mayor Dan Bender, who was City Council liaison to the commission at that time, also wrote stories.

The next step was having the scripts recorded. Phoenix Theater actors spent a day at Mark Woerpel's rural Ellsworth studio. Participating actors were Greg Nixon, Marcy Watzl, Ben Manning, Julie Martin, Helene Olson-Reed, Susan Kinyon and Mary Rauterkus.

Local photographers Robin Wipperling, Megan Jensen and Courtney Juliar captured new images of some of the buildings, including church interiors and other historic facets that remain in some of the buildings.

Hoisington combined them with vintage documents and photos, many of them obtained through the Goodhue County Historical Society, and added music to the soundtrack.

QR — quick response — codes were created for each file. They will be posted at the buildings, churches and parks so anyone with a Smart Phone or tablet that has an app for reading the codes can drive or walk up to a site and download the story about it.

Two mini-iPads were purchased as part of the project. They will be made available so that adults can check them out and take them on a walking tour.

People also will be able to go to the city's Website,, and find the podcast home page which has a link to YouTube, or go directly to YouTube and search for the Red Wing Heritage Preservation site.

The city also plans to broadcast the podcasts this fall on its public television channel.

"We are very excited about the project," Butler said. "We hope the podcasts will highlight and bring awareness and appreciation to the great historic assets of Red Wing and the community's preservation efforts."

"It's another tool we can use to educate the public about what Red Wing has and what it works toward preserving," Kohn said. Providing information using a new, modern format has the potential to reach a new audience, he added.

Kohn secured a federal Certified Local Government grant of $6,000 and another $6,000 Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage grant from the Legacy Fund. Another $750 was budgeted from the heritage commission's 2012 budget.

The total project cost was about $4,000, including in-kind match in the form of project management by city planning staff and time donated by commission members who wrote scripts and actors who volunteered to record the stories.

The podcast represents Phase I of what could be an ongoing project, Kohn said. Future phases could include podcasts on historic residences or other important sites, such as properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

If you go ...

What: Historic podcast premier

Who: Red Wing Heritage Preservation Commission

When: 7 p.m. Sept. 4

Where: Sheldon Theatre

Cost: Free