Archived Story

‘Friends’ announce 10th year of RTC tours

Published 11:02am Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tours of the historical Fergus Falls Regional Treatment Center will be back this spring. It marks the 10th year of the tours, led by Friends of the Kirkbride members Gene and Maxine Schmidt.

Maxine Schmidt uses a notebook of references during one of the weekly tours of the Fergus Falls RTC last summer.
Maxine Schmidt uses a notebook of references during one of the weekly tours of the Fergus Falls RTC last summer.

The first tour is May 16, and the Schmidts are getting lots of calls from those interested in reserving a spot.

“They’re filling up quickly,” Maxine said. “Nothing is full so far. Just call for availability.”

When the tours ended for the season last fall, the Schmidts weren’t sure if they would be able to continue, with plans moving forward to redevelop the building. Historic Kirkbride is working on an estimated $41.4 million redevelopment project to save the building from demolition.

The city of Fergus Falls, which still owns the RTC property, has given permission for the tours to continue this year, according to the Schmidts, and developer Ray Willey is also supportive of their efforts.

“So we’ll just keep going until we’re told we can’t do them anymore,” Maxine said.

Once again this year, they will give shorter, “mini tours” during SummerFest, as well. The annual summer festival is on the RTC grounds for a third year in a row.

 

More than 9,000 people have toured the facility and its historic grounds since the first tour was given in February 2005. Visitors have come from at least 40 of the 50 states and eight other countries.

Tours last year were booked up well in advance, and some of the calls Maxine gets are from people who say they’ve been wanting to take the tour for a long time but just haven’t yet.

Now might be the best chance. Historic Kirkbride is working toward a developer’s agreement with the city, and it hopes to have funding sources in place by August. So, the Schmidts aren’t sure any redevelopment work preventing tours would be done in the fall.

“The tours will continue,” Maxine said. “There’s still lots of interest, so we’ll just keep going.”

For tour information, call Gene and Maxine Schmidt at 218-736-5328.

 

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