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First Avenue Walls restored

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The restored First Avenue granite walls are more than 75 years old

The restored First Avenue granite walls are more than 75 years old.

Concrete sets around the Works Progress Administration sign Brian Kostreba, Kostreba Tuckpointing & Roofing, Rice The restored First Avenue granite walls are more than 75 years old Bill Morgan, professor emeritus of American Studies, delivered remarks Devinder Malhotra, provost, praised the work of university and community people Len Sippel, interim vice president for finance and administration, noted the craftsmanship required to build and maintain the walls Steve Ludwig, retired vice president for administrative affairs 

With the practiced skill of a master mason, Brian Kostreba mortared into place a granite sign that reads "WPA 1936."

While a crowd of onlookers watched, Kostreba finished the last element of a two-month, $200,000 restoration project that helps preserve St. Cloud State's First Avenue Walls for future generations.

Built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the walls line the sidewalk on the east side of the avenue from 8th Street south to University Bridge.

The Great Depression federal relief program created $11 billion in public works projects between 1935 and 1943, including the First Avenue Walls, the Selke Field Walls and the walls and arch east of Whitney Park, according to Bill Morgan, professor emeritus of American Studies.

Kostreba, owner of Kostreba Tuckpointing & Roofing, Rice, was assisted by his son, Travis. Brian's father, Leo, who founded the company in 1960, and is now retired, played a pivotal role in maintaining the First Avenue Walls and some of the more than 14,000 linear feet of WPA walls in St. Cloud.

The vast majority of the rough granite facing stones and polished granite capstones in the First Avenue Walls are original material, said John Frischmann, facilities construction coordinator.

"We knew we had to respect the character of the walls," Frischmann said.

About 100 people from the campus and community gathered for an Oct. 30 dedication ceremony on the front lawn at Riverview Hall.

View a video about the project and dedication ceremony, featuring remarks by Morgan:

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