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Butler Project renovations scheduled to begin Jan. 2

AITKIN — The Aitkin Butler Building’s current exterior will soon be just a memory, but the people behind the renovation reported one lucky individual can hold onto a piece of history.

Renovation work on the facade of the Butler building is scheduled to start on Jan. 2, and the building’s new owner offered the huge signature lantern that hangs above the entrance to the person submitting the best offer, with a small catch — they need to work out removal of it with the contractor.

The large, electric wrought iron lantern was designed specially for the store and has served as a welcoming beacon over the entrance of the building since the late ‘60s. The lantern and shingled awning are being removed to restore the building to its original design. Request for the lantern was on a first come, first served basis.

Sylvia Allen, owner of Allen Consulting, is behind the effort to the renovation of the landmark Butler’s building in Aitkin, which has stood as a solid mainstay of the city’s main street for more than 100 years. Allen reported she wanted to start with the first floor and begin a phased three-year plan to renovate the building. To that end, she created a nonprofit Butler Project LLC. Susan Ackerman was named project manager.

The Butler Project is soliciting stories and pictures about the Butler Building for use in an upcoming book to be published mid 2012. The book will detail the history of the building and its impact on Aitkin. Stories and pictures shared by contributors will be featured throughout the book. Those wishing to contribute to the book may pick up a submission form at the following locations: Aicota Nursing Home, Aitkin Age Independent office, Bremer Bank, Thrift White Drug Store, Bare’s Bootery, Modern Beauty, Sew & More, The Beanery, Tuscany Room, The Scrapbook and More, Gramma’s Pantry, The Office Shop, Security State Bank, Paul Beck’s SuperValu, Pamida, The 40 Club, and Birchwood Café. Photos should have a return address on the back so they can be returned. Deadline for submissions is Jan. 31, 2012.

The recent announcements regarding the restoration of the Butler Building in downtown Aitkin have sparked a wave of recollections by residents and visitors to the area, the Butler Project reported. Allen, who was in Aitkin recently to finalize ownership of the building and host a preview party, said: “everyone seems to have a story to share about Butler’s being a destination for them.” Allen plans to restore the building to its original state and turn it into a destination for retail, entertainment and dining.

Allen, who has lots of her own fond memories of going to Butler’s, came up with the idea to allow people to share all those memories.

The Butler Project plans to restore the Butler Building and turn its three levels into a destination for retail, dining and event space. The first phase of the project is underway and will focus on the main floor with a variety of retail offerings. The anticipated opening for the first phase is May 2012.

For more information, contact Allen at (732) 241-1144 or Susan Ackerman at (218) 232-0214 or via email at

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889