Our Opinion: Save The Flat Iron Building!

Hello my dear citizens of Blogville!  On this fine Sunday morning/afternoon, the traditional day of big ol’ editorials, for the first time in our little blog history, we’ve decided to step out of our little blog bubble, and into the actual world – and in particular – our hometown of Minot!

Our issue that we’ve chosen is that of the Flat Iron Building, and its future.  For those of you not sure of what the flip we’re talking about, here are a some links for you to get up to speed (arranged by date):

Flat Iron Building Demolition, Fix-Up Would Cost Same (MDN 4.23.08)

Committee Chooses Demolition Over Sale of Flat Iron Building (MDN 5.1.08)

Flat Iron Building (KXMC 5.2.08)

Flat Iron Building Becomes Hot Property (MDN 5.6.08)

Flat Iron Building Draws Interest From Several Sources (MDN 5.24.08)

Well, now that you have that reading out of the way, we wanted to share a letter with you that we wrote our City Council members a couple of weeks ago.  We decided to share this with you now, because the next scheduled meeting is tomorrow, June 2, 2008 at 7:00PM at City Hall.

Dear City Council Members,

We just wanted to pass on to you our opinion that the Flat Iron Building should not be torn down.  Our voice is in favor of trying to save a piece of our downtown – one that will not be replaced by anything if it does fall under the wrecking ball.  Downtown Minot has become block after block of surface level parking lots.  The heart and the soul of this area is slowly disappearing, and for what?  To remove eyesores?  To us, an empty block is far more detrimental to our area and our progress.
Of course there are many obstacles that would have to be overcome, but speaking as partners that  own and operate a business in a building that is over 120 years old – the obstacles are worth it.  Buildings like these are not made any more.  Over the past three years, we have seen major renovation projects at 10 North Main, at our building (Otis & James Photography), next door at Off The Vine, the Merle Norman building on Central, and the Mr. Wish building (now Main Street Books), the Bricks Studio building, not to mention the building directly across the street from the Flat Iron Building (The Former Westlie Building) and the current renovation of the B&B Drug building.
Any and all of these buildings could have been given up on.  They were all in varying degrees of disrepair.  The effort, however, was made – and the results are great.  We are not only speaking as a business owners, but as residents of the downtown area.  Matthew has lived both above our current studio and in an apartment above Off The Vine.
When the Off The Vine building was in previous ownership, we toured it while it was on the market.  The main floor was in decent shape, but the upstairs was far from habitable – and that might be putting it mildly.  But the effort was made with both buildings, and – again – it has been well worth it.  In particular, the apartment above Off The Vine is gorgeous – a true example of realizing potential!
In regards to the parking issue that was raised during the last meeting, we don’t feel that this is a truly valid concern.  There is a public lot not even a block away from the Flat Iron Building.  This is downtown, and parking – whether it be in this downtown or any other – will always be an issue.  If it is hart to find parking, that is a good thing – it means that people are here; working, living, spending money!  If there is an abundance of parking, the opposite is true.
Any of us will go to Dakota Square on the weekend, and if you were to measure the distance that you walk from your car to the mall entrance, it could very well be a block away – and we don’t even think twice about it.   During the holidays, that distance can be even greater – how is this any different?
By giving this building every chance, what does the city have to lose?  In our opinion, it has far more to lose by deciding to tear it down.  Thank you for your time, and have a great day!
Matthew Bieri
Jamie Rennich
There you go.  It’s just our opinion, and you can take it or leave it – we’ll love you no matter what!  We believe there is room for all voices to be heard, and this is just ours.  We feel that it’s a good thing to be involved.  We try to leave all political, religious, or any other controversial views from these pages, but we feel strongly about the preservation of our downtown.
If you would like to get involved, sometimes it’s just a simple as sending an e.mail to or call a City Council Member – just tell them what you think (it only has to be a few words), be respectful (as our good people of Blogville & Minot always are!), and that’s that!  It’s a simple and easy step.
I’m even going to help you here, and give you a link to the page that has all of our City Council Members information at – all you gotta do is click the little e.mail link by their name to send them one.
There are far greater things going on in the world than the fate of this building, but all change starts at home.  We’ll tackle the bigger ones later.
And one more thing to think about.  I’m going to show you a couple of pictures from our studio – before and after sort of thing (they’re a little old, but we don’t take pics of the actual studio every day, so bear with us) – so you can see what has helped shaped our perspective.  Thank you, our faithful reader, for your time, and back to your Sunday!


All Images ©2008 Otis & James Photography

Categorized as Musings

By otis

I'm cheese. Velveeta, specifically.


  1. I couldn’t agree with you more!
    Being a resident of downtown for the past 4 years, it would be such a loss to see a piece of history being torn down.
    Your building is a prime example of what a great vision and a lot of hard work can become.
    Go on wit yo bad self.

  2. I was really happy to see this on the blog today. I think that the Flat Iron Building is truly a unique place that should be saved no matter the cost. Today it seems that there is a lot of awareness about how special old buildings can be, but there’s still not enough to keep some really cool historic structures from coming down. The examples you gave (including your studio) show how fantastic a bit of hard work and love can make something if you just give it a chance. I truly hope that it won’t come down – that someone who has the resources and pull can get it not only to stay, but to have something move in that will benefit downtown and all of Minot. Thanks for doing what you can in bringing life to downtown and also highlighting this issue.

  3. I hate when towns and cities decide to destroy their history. I hope they decide to leave the Flat Iron alone. Pretty soon you wont recognize Minot. Its a shame.

  4. I’ve been amazed lately at how much downtown Minot is changing for the better by people doing much needed renovation to the historic buildings there, it’d be a shame to destroy something that could be saved just as easily.


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