The Preston Walking Tour is a self-guided walking or driving tour of the heritage of downtown Preston. It features very enjoyable descriptions of the history of Preston businesses of yesteryear, as well as old pictures of the businesses. It will take you back in time.
Download and Print the Walking Tour Brochure, or use the following:
1. Historic Elevator. You are at Preston’s railroad center (see adjacent The Milwaukee Road in Preston exhibit dedicated in 2019) – all that is left is the 1902 Milwaukee Elevator now on National Register of Historic Places – with crib and dovetail grain bins inside. The Preston Historical Society has restored the building and added a Milwaukee Road “rib-side” boxcar, caboose and a motorcar/trailer. The caboose is often open to the public and has historic railroad artifacts donated by the public and former employees.
2. Historic Preston School Building. The large brick building on the hill overlooking the trailhead is the Preston School Building built in 1923 and housed both elementary and high school. IN 1922 the original school building burned down. Today it is apartments and lodging. Can be viewed at 112 Pleasant Street NW
As you start your walking tour of Historic downtown Preston, you are on the corner of Fillmore Street and St. Anthony. You will be walking around the Courthouse Square.
3. Fillmore County Courthouse. 101 Fillmore St W. Preston is the County Seat of Fillmore Co and the courthouse stands in the middle of the public square, (one of only seven courthouse in Minnesota that is located in the center of the town). The original building was constructed in 1863 with wings added over the years. Torn down in 1956 the present building was built with an extensive update in 2008.
4. 105 W. Fillmore St W looking across the street on this corner from 1885 until the mid 1940’s stood the Tibbetts House, Preston’s most exclusive hotel it was torn down to make way for the present building once a motor company, in 1957 became a grocery store as it still is today.
5. 129 W. Fillmore St W “Grand Opera House” (circa 1903) the upstairs with its wide stairs, was the center of cultural activities, traveling movies, political meetings, dances and indoor athletic events the Preston Tigers baseball was the second best ball team in the United States in the early 1900’s. The first level has always housed businesses as it does today, in 1903 First National Bank and Gartner Grocery Stores. Gartner built this series of brick buildings.
6. 141 W Fillmore St. is the oldest building on the block as shown in an 1894 picture when a fire destroyed all the wood buildings to the east of it on this block. This building always served as a business building with the American Legion on the top floor at one time.
7. 157 W Fillmore Street the corner brick building (circa 1890) was always a funeral home and furniture store through the years, today it is still a funeral home.
8. 109 Houston St.
Fillmore County Jail built in 1864 constructed of local materials (brick, stone and wood) in the Italianate style. It is now a Bed & Breakfast and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
9. Preston Carnegie Library was completed in 1912. Originally the Town Hall was on the South side of the library with the city jail on the lower level. Today the library occupies the upper level and the city offices are located on the lower level. The firehall once occupied this lower space.
10. 121 St Paul St. As you walk south from the library this next building was once known as Keehn’s Meat Market.
10. 125 S. St. Paul St. At one time this was a confectionary shop and later a popular restaurant.
11. 192 St. Paul St., which is now one business, once was the Victory Café on the north end and later the post office and later yet a doctor’s office. On the N.W. corner of St. Paul & Main St. was the 1st National Bank, one of the three banks in Preston. It was closed after finding funds had been misappropriated.
12. 200 St. Paul St.
Built in 1907 this building once housed a hardware store with the central office for NW Bell Telephone Co upstairs. The upstairs has now been remodeled into apartments.
13. 209 St. Paul St. Here was a thriving men’s clothing store. The first owner’s names are still on the cornice of each building.
14.212 St. Paul St. A pool hall with a 9 pin bowling alley was once in this building. Later it became the post office with the Servicemen’s Club located upstairs. When the post office built a new building the Servicemen’s Club moved downstairs in it’s present location.
15. 235 St. Paul St. was once the Preston Republican News paper.
16. 220 St. Paul St. Originally there were 4 businesses in this building before being torn down. On the corner was Creamery Produce which purchased eggs and sold feed; Schibursky’s shoe repair shop; a dry cleaner; and a dentist office.
17. 216 St. Paul St SW was Andy’s Candy Store. Eventually it was remodeled in 1933 to become Andy’s cafe after Prohibition ended. It later became a tavern and then a pizza place/restaurant.
18.200 St. Paul Street. The Preston Bakery was located
here until 1970’s.
19. 206 St. Paul St. SW is probably the narrowest storefront in downtown. Many small businesses have existed in this building. In the early 40’s it was a café; in 1948-1960 it was an optometrist office before becoming a reality business and now a beauty shop.
From St. Paul Street, turn right onto Main Street,
with the Court House to the left.
20. 152 W Main Street was known as the Syndicate Building circa 1881 then came the 136 W Main “Old Reliable” Mercantile Store of Hard and Kuethe, at one time there were eight sewing machine operators on the second floor these buildings. The beautiful brick work was covered in a modernization upgrade.
21. 124 W Main
circa 1920 the Grey Sandstone building originally the Farmers and Merchants State Bank.
22. 116 W Main
the Masonic Hall circa 1922 is of tile construction.
23. 104 W Main is the Kruppenbacher building some call it the Gingerbread House or the Storybook House it is an old frame structure dating back to the 1850’s one of the oldest buildings in Preston. Early occupants were of the barber trade, it has been a hat shop, candy store, homemade crafts, bookstore and antiques.
24. 100 W Main circa late 1800’s in 1905 it was written of the I & N Smith Poultry and Egg house. One of the long time business was the Green Lantern Cafe from 1926 to 1944. Later the Sip and Nibble Cafe. In most recent years there were plumbing and heating businesses and a hair salon.
25. Across the street 100 E Main is the Ebert Building, this building was a hardware store from 1890 to 1990 Shaffer Bros and in 1911 Ebert Hardware. A specialty was making tin cupolas.
26. 104 E Main the brick house one of the oldest buildings in Preston circa 1853 this building is built with soft brick which was made in one of the three brick yards in Preston. From 1890 to 1910 Sammy Wong ran a Chinese laundry business from this building. It has been a residence for many years until in the 1990’s thru 2000 it.
27. 136 St. Anthony St
was once the Park Hotel with rooms going for $2.50 a night. A fourth story was added in 1898 to give more rooms for people staying in Preston. Much later it was remodeled for a women’s clothing store.
28. 132 St. Anthony St.
was the Fillmore County Bank from 1889-1898, when it closed its doors because of embezzled funds – Clements served 10 years in the state’s prison. It was also an abstract office. The original bank vault is still inside the building.
29. 126 St. Anthony St. was once a millinery shop in 1860’s. Many business were in this building & was purchased in 1945 to become Pugh’s Paint & Wallpaper until early 1970’s. It was later remodeled for a restaurant.
30. 120 St. Anthony St. A children’s clothing store was on one side and a jewelry store on the other. Kelly Printing and the Fillmore Co Journal and the National Trout Center had it’s beginnings here.
31. The Popcorn Stand
was established in 1934. Each summer it was pulled to the fair grounds where popcorn was sold at the Fillmore Co. Fair. Now it is stationary and open for business during the summer.
32. 110 St. Anthony St. A jewelry shop was located here in the early 1950’s. Later Tony’s Pizza was opened here until it was purchased again and a sandwich shop was opened.
33. 108 St. Anthony St.
was the location of one of Preston’s 7 gas stations, the Standard Oil 1923-1960’s.
Back tracking to the Bike Trail parking lot, cross over the Root River, you will come to the entryway of the
34. Fillmore County fairgrounds this entryway was constructed in the early 1900’s as a memorial to the veterans of World War I. In 1875 the fair was permanently placed in Preston. The Fillmore County fair is held the third week in July.
35. On the grounds of the fairground is the O’Hara country schoolhouse from Amherst Township established in 1870 the school closed in 1961 due to consolidation. The school has been restored as a typical one room school by the Preston Historical Society it is open during the County fair.
36. Going back over the bridge and following the bike trail north you will be walking on the original railroad bed and will be coming upon the Preston Brewery which started production in 1859. The beer produced was “Forget Me Not”. Beer was distributed to all the neighboring towns. When prohibition was declared the sheriff and deputies dumped all the beer. During this time they made soft drinks before closing for good. It is now a private residence.