Heide Heinze and Jayne Hoffman updated Rotary on Tuesday on the work of the River Falls History Preservation Commission and on some River Falls history. The River Falls Historic Preservation Commission is part of our city's Certified Local Government.  The Historic Preservation Commission has open monthly meetings held on the second Wednesday of each month at 6:00 pm in the Training Room, City Hall, 222 Lewis Street, River Falls, Wisconsin.
The seven-member panel creates policies, plans, and public programming in the spirit of stewardship, and for the inspiration and benefit of current and future generations. Their purpose is to 1) protect, enhance, and preserve historic structures, sites, and districts, 2) safeguard the city’s cultural heritage, and 3) stabilize property values and enhance aesthetic character.
We may have all heard of Joel Foster but perhaps not heard much about the Powell brothers. The Powell brothers platted, i.e. laid out in map form, River Falls’ city streets. They also built the first frame structure in the town, which is the Pioneer Store. More history can be found here: https://www.rfcity.org/177/History-of-River-Falls
River Falls had four grain mills and at one point produced the most flour in the midwest, at one point topping the output of mills in the Twin Cities. That changed when the chinch bug collapsed the industry.  The chinch bug is a native North American insect that can destroy cultivated grass crops, especially sorghum and corn, and occasionally small grains such as wheat and barley. Once the wheat industry collapsed, the train service declined. The Train Depot remained until the 1960’s when John Kennedy visited River Falls and the broadcasts showed the dilapidated Train Depot. The condition of the depot caused embarrassment, the depot was torn down shortly thereafter.  River Falls had electricity in 1902. The Main Street was not paved with concrete until 1920.
The Powell brothers donated the land for Glen Park. Glen Park had a zoo 1923 that started with two bears. In 1937 the Glen Park pool was built as a WPA project. The Improvement League (all women) was formed to maintain the park and beautify the city. That league built the original bridge which was washed out and replaced with a much higher Swinging Bridge that stands today.
The River Falls Historic Preservation Commission is looking for new ideas for historic signage and projects. You can contact them at heidiheinze72@gmail.com or jhoffman@yahoo.com.
About the Speakers:    Heidi Heinze has been a River Falls resident for 25 years (since 1997), and on Historic Preservation Commission for 12 years.  She is a Chippewa Falls native, a UW Madison alumna, and is currently the education coordinator for the St. Croix County Historical Society in Hudson.  Co-presenter Jayne Hoffman is well know to River Falls Rotary as a retired Westside Elementary School teacher.