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tvl Committee raising funds to restore the Berg Motel

By Matthew Stolle

mstolle@postbulletin.com

SLEEPY EYE, Minn. -- The Berg Motel on Main Street in this city of 4,000 people hasn't been a destination for tourists since the mid-1990s, when it was abandoned. But a group of community boosters are hoping to change that.

Their goal: To restore the building's glory days.

In its heyday, the hotel was a bustling place, where tradesman sold grains and calicos and hotel guests and bus passengers made it a site of considerable activity.

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Renamed the Berg Archway Plaza, the three-story structure is being reconditioned by members of the Berg Committee, who hope to convert the building into an arts, business and retail center. The group has launched a $1.1 million fund-raising campaign to pay for the restoration.

There was a time when travelers from throughout the region were dropped off at the bus stop outside the hotel, and in that way, the word of the hotel and its amenities spread.

Dana Miller, the committee's public relations coordinator, says the hotel is a natural for the committee's restoration efforts.

"First of all, the structure is so solid," with hand-carved banisters and wide corridors, said Miller, who also calls it historic and beautiful.

The large red brick structure also features a grand-arched entrance and Kasota Stone windsills and trim. On the inside, behind the newly exposed studs, are once-hidden fireplaces. A sweeping stair case leads to two additional levels, with solid oak floors.

The first floor would be where retail space, coffee shops and clothing boutiques would be located.

Arts programs and businesses would be located on the other floors.

Miller said in communities the size of Sleepy Eye, arts programs in schools are often the first to go. By offering artists a place in the Berg Archway Place, officials hope to supplement and stimulate art programs in the area.

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Currently, the building has been stripped down to its studs, and Miller said restoration efforts are expected to begin shortly. Officials hope to complete work on the building by late 2004.

The Berg Committee is a 501(c)(3) group operating in collaboration with the Sleepy Eye Area Foundation to improve economic conditions and enhance the quality of life in the Sleepy Eye area.

Questions about the Berg restoration project can be directed to Birdie Logue, director of operations, at (507) 794-7940.

If you have a place you'd like to see in Destinations, please call 252-1111, category 8638, the Life &; Leisure line, and leave a message. We'll try to schedule your suggestion for an upcoming feature.

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