Brainerd history buffs can now take a quick step back into time to celebrate the city’s sesquicentennial.

Visit Brainerd offers a new walking tour of downtown Brainerd that begins and ends at the marketing organization and visitor’s bureau office on Laurel Street.

“A local historian and tour guide will lead you around the charming brick buildings that align the downtown streets where you will look up, down and all around at things that will surprise and enlighten you,” stated Holly Holm, a destination services specialist with Visit Brainerd, in a news release.

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Holm came up with the idea to focus solely on the 600 and the 700 blocks between Front and Laurel streets. Visit Brainerd’s walk is an abbreviated version of the more encompassing Downtown Brainerd History Walk, a self-guided tour created by local historian Carl Faust.

“Your guide will stop and talk about the significance of the buildings around town, the people who built them and the unique historical stories surrounding them. The tour includes brief sidewalk stops at historically relevant sites,” Holm stated in the release.

A sign outside Visit Brainerd Friday, April 30, 2021, in downtown Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
A sign outside Visit Brainerd Friday, April 30, 2021, in downtown Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

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The Downtown Brainerd History Walk was developed in 2008 to help Brainerd celebrate the state’s sesquicentennial. A tour booklet was made that can be checked out from the Brainerd Public Library or the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Research Library.

Faust’s original walk started at the library and covered the 600, 700 and 800 blocks, and passed by the county museum back to the library. The Visit Brainerd office relocated last year to Laurel Street, and that fall, a mini-walk was tested, covering about the center third of the original walk.

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“What I wanted to do on this one — rather than just nuts and bolts and facts and figures and dates — I wanted to point out a few things,” Faust said. “ … Another umpteen things that I’ve noticed since I’ve been hoofing this thing since 2008 … some neat things like bricks or granite curbs.”

A print out for people participating in the Downtown Brainerd Mini-History Walk Friday, April 30, 2021, at Visit Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
A print out for people participating in the Downtown Brainerd Mini-History Walk Friday, April 30, 2021, at Visit Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Visit Brainerd’s tours are available by advance reservation — online purchase or via phone. This tour is limited to 10 people. Tour durations last approximately 90 minutes and participants are advised to dress accordingly for the walking tours. Tour participants get to keep their copy of the guide.

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“The guides have a different, expanded version of the walk that includes some tidbits that are not on the patron’s copy, so you only find out these juicy tidbits from your guide,” Faust said.

The tour fee is $10 per person. Proceeds from the walking tours will go towards the Brainerd History Group’s legacy project of providing signage and historical markers.

Brainerd Mayor Dave Badeaux created a logo, incorporating several pieces of history, to celebrate the city's upcoming 150th anniversary in September.
Brainerd Mayor Dave Badeaux created a logo, incorporating several pieces of history, to celebrate the city's upcoming 150th anniversary in September.

“Be wowed by the pieces of history still here today and inspired by the history of those that came before us,” Holm stated in the release.

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All ages and questions are welcomed on the Visit Brainerd guided walk tours. Masks are required while indoors, but most of the tour is outside, and all tours happen rain or shine.

The inaugural weekend times and dates for the Visit Brainerd guided walking tours are 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Friday, May 7, and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday.

For more information or to make a tour reservation, call 218-825-0410 or visit visitbrainerd.com.

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FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL.