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Marcell, Minnesota History

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6

Excerpted from Memories of a Small Town
by Curtis L. Newstrom, 1995


There is an old adage that goes something like this "All good things eventually come to an end". I would say that the end of Newstrom's Store did bring an end to many good things that the business did for two families over the many years of its existence. At any rate, circumstances for Curt & Jennie Newstrom in 1959 resulted in a very important decision. In this chapter, I tell about that decision which resulted in our closing down of the store business and somewhat of a new life style for us.

Store business had been a productive life for those years after Jen and I purchased the business from my parents. However, in the mid fifties the summer tourist business had slowed some and our winter trade did not warrant keeping the store open. I could see the impending trend and had obtained work in the Itasca County Auditor's Office in Grand Rapids during the winter months to supplement our income. In 1957 I accepted a full time position as Deputy County Auditor and Jen was left with the burden of operating the store. We tried leasing it out one year, but that proved to be a costly venture and I knew something had to be done. In the meantime, the State of Minnesota had been telling me that the store property was an encroachment on the highway right of way. They had told my father before me the same thing, but never did anything about it. In 1958 I could see that something had to be done and I contacted the Minnesota Department of Transportation to see what their plans were. The result: I was informed that the State would start condemnation proceedings if I were receptive to more immediate action. They told me at the time that condemnation of the property would happen eventually anyway. Because of the economics and our personal welfare, we went ahead with the proceedings which resulted in a settlement. The end of Newstrom's Store? Well - yes and no! The business was shut down September 30, 1959, but then I got involved in another piece of business that proved to be a big headache.

The State of Minnesota called me one day to in 1960 to ask about a local paper that could be used to advertise sale of the building. I told them about the Deer River paper and thought no more about it for some time, but my father approached me after learning about the bid process by the State for sale of the building and suggested that we bid on same. I told my father straight out that it was a "crazy idea" ..... but he talked me in to submitting a bid and it was the only bid received. Dagnabit - I had the building on my hands again and it had to be moved within 60 days. I only paid $105.00 for it, but moving costs were going to be over $3,000.00! I won't bore you with all the details of performing the task, but the building was moved the short distance to its present location where the Lakewood Cafe & Laundromat is now located. In 1963 the building was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Marcus Birkeland who started that business. It has changed owners a few times since and currently in 1994,as I finished writing my book, the business is owned by Mr. & Mrs. James Alden and Mr. & Mrs. Dennis Korte. There is more about that business and others that came along in the 1960's in the next chapter.


All of the previous chapters have told many stories about Marcell with most of the detail covering years before 1960. Now I shall recap the years from 1960 thru 1994 and I must say that this was the most difficult period to write about. Many changes took place. Some business places closed down. New business entities came along. Many of the changes that took place after the 1960's are not all that visible as one drives around the Marcell area...but then some changes are very obvious. This chapter does not cover all of the changes that have taken place since 1960 as other upcoming chapters will highlight some of them.

One of the most noticeable changes one might notice is that Newstrom's Store is no longer in the triangle where it had been for over 30 years. I have covered the details of the end of the store in Chapter XX so now will tell more about what has happened with that building. As told in Chapter XX, I sold the store building to Mr. & Mrs. Marcus Birkeland. I first should explain that Mrs. Birkeland (Betty) is my cousin, a daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Newstrom (Uncle). Betty and Mark opened The Lakewood Cafe & Laundromat in the building in 1963 after I moved it away from the triangle location . The Birkelands sold the business to Mr. & Mrs. Ken Youker in 1967 and they moved, to Duluth. Mark had already obtained a job there with a printing company earlier. Youkers sold the business to Mr. & Mrs. Morie Mericle who in turn sold it to another couple -(sorry their names & the year have escaped my memory) - but their tenure was short lived and Mericles had to take the business back. In February of 1982, Mr. & Mrs. James Alden and Mr. & Mrs. Dennis Korte purchased the business and still operate same when this book goes to press. It is a thriving business under the present ownership. This information about the ownership of the old store building has been rather sketchy and I apologize for that, but at least we know that the old Newstrom Store building is still in existence.

Update on THE MARCELL GARAGE and the addition of PAULA'S PRETTY PLACE. Chapter XV told of last ownership of the garage by Mr. & Mrs. Earl Giraud. Mr. & Mrs. James Alden came to Marcell in 1968 and purchased the business. Jim's wife Paula started a beauty shop in the small addition Earl Giraud had used previously. Paula's Beauty Shop was an attraction to ladies from all around the area, coming from such places as Bowstring, Jessie Lake, Spring Lake, Bigfork, Effie and many other have their "hair done". Jim & Paula decided they had enough of the garage business in 1977.

They sold out to a partnership of Mr. & Mrs. Art DeWitt and Mr. & Mrs. Lester Bartell and Paula sold her beauty shop equipment to Mrs. Cindy Wilke. Jim & Paula took on a new venture when they purchased a semi truck and "traveled the USA" for several years as "Truckers". In the previous chapter I told of their buying into the cafe business and that was after their return from the trucking venture.

Update on PAULA'S BEAUTY SHOP. When sold to Cindy Wilke it stayed in the shop next to the garage for a time as Cindy continued to rent the space from the new owners. Cindy then moved the business to her home in the Bowstring Community where it is still in operation.... and ladies from Marcell still utilize her service.

Update on THE MARCELL MERCANTILE STORE. In Chapter XV I told of the purchase of this business by Mr. & Mrs. Rissanen. They continued to operate the store until June of 1994 when failing health of Pete Rissanen forced them to close down the store. They continue to live in the living quarters in the rear of the building.

Update on BECKMAN'S BAIT SHOP. Back in Chapter XV you read about this business that started up in the 1950's. The Beckmans divorced in 1963 and Mrs. Beckman moved away. By the 1970's, business had slowed down for the bait store because many of the resorts were selling minnows and there was a second bait store in town. Lawrence Beckman closed down the business early in 1973 and then worked out as a stone mason building fireplaces and various other jobs. In August 1973 Lawrence suddenly passed away while on a job. Funeral services were held from the Marcell Church.

Shortly after the death of Lawrence Beckman in 1973, Mr. & Mrs. George Graham purchased the old bait shop and used it for a time as an antique shop. Then after a short occupancy by a real estate agency, the building was sold to ASV Inc. and that is another interesting story of it 's own in Chapter XXXVI. The building still stands in that same location but the appearance has changed considerably.

Update on the SNOWSHOE CAFE & TAVERN. It was 1959 when Mr. & Mrs. Lyle LaGrange sold the business to Harold Risberg who in turn sold to Mr. & Mrs. Ed Mohring. Mr. & Mrs. Gerald Gang then purchased the tavern in 1959. Mr. Gang died in December 1984 with funeral services provided from the Marcell Church. Mrs. Gang continued to run the business until 1993 when she closed the doors for good. She continues to reside in the building.

Update on MARCELL PLUMBING & HEATING. An original business started by Jay Benson was purchased by Victor Huju Jr. shortly after World War II ended and Arvo Rautio became a partner in the business. They operated the business from their homes with just a small building as a warehouse. Victor then bought out Arvo's share and in 1966 bought the old Marcell school building from the Marcell American Legion Post. Mr. & Mrs. Victor Huju Jr. operated Marcell Plumbing & Heating there until 1977 when they sold out to Mr. & Mrs. Luke Cleath and sons. The business still operates at that location and provides Marcell and surrounding areas with much needed plumbing & heating services.

U. S. FOREST SERVICE. I made no attempt in this book to tell anything about the U. S Forestry operation in Marcell. There were many Head Rangers in the Marcell Office over the years and I have made no attempt to capture any past history. The office has existed for many years and I remember making friends with many rangers - even back in the 1930's. The Ranger Station complex has grown and seen many changes through the 20th Century. There have been times when we heard rumors that the station would be closed down, but today it continues to serve the area. The Marcell Station provides employment for a great number of people and is a great asset to the town. In Chapter XXXIX, where I give a pictorial review of Marcell, there is a picture of today's very modern U. S. Forest Service Office building in Marcell. An article in Chapter XXXX contains some newspaper articles involving some of the work being initiated from the Marcell Station.

Update on THE MARCELL INN, In 1959 Mr. & Mrs. Vern Orr from Kokomo, Indiana purchased the tavern from Mr. & Mrs. Gust Koski. In 1969 the Orrs sold to Mr. & Mrs. John Kuntz who then ran the business until 1983. That year Mr. & Mrs. Richard Volner from Minneapolis purchased the business and operate same as the book goes to press. Under this ownership, very extensive remodeling has been done with development of a very modern night club type establishment. Here is a present day picture of that business.


I trust that I have been thorough in the update of business entities of Marcell and have not neglected to cover the many places that we have in this small town. In fact, there is probably more business in Marcell than many other towns of the same size. Now I shall go on to some new ventures that came about after 1960 and right up to present time at the end of 1994.

With the end of Newstrom's Store business, a new bait & tackle shop was started in 1961. Mr. & Mrs. Louis Probst built a building on the property next to the sawmill owned by son, Wallace. Frontier Bait was then the second bait business right in town. I had given them my LIVE BAIT sign and I made a deal with Mrs. Probst whereby she took over my remaining stock of tackle. Mrs. Probst ran the business while her husband worked at other jobs. With failing health a factor, the business was sold out to Mr. & Mrs. Ed Mohring - date not certain. In 1979 Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Moore bought the business and operated same until 1983 when they sold to Jim Wodahl. That ownership only lasted a little over a year and Mr. & Mrs. Terry Schmitz took over in 1985. The building has been renovated several times and is now a large convenience store selling groceries, tackle, live bait, souvenirs, lottery tickets, gas & oils and much more.

Now named FRONTIER SPORTS, it is the only grocery business in town as the year 1994 ends. The store not only has merchandise for sale, but also has rental service of outboard motors, will help with guide services, sells fishing & hunting licenses...and is a weigh-in station for the Fuller Tackle Fishing Contest. They also carry on the tradition of Newstrom's Store of taking pictures of people with their fish and display same on a bulletin board.

NORTHWOODS NOVELTY was originated in June 1963 when Mr. & Mrs. Clay Williamson from Iowa started the business. Clay & Lora were experienced in ceramics manufacture and built a shop on their property west of Marcell. There they manufactured ceramic novelties and with the need of a shop to sell their wares, they purchased the old store building next to the postoffice. They not only sold products they had made, but included many other gift shop items such as Indian Jewelry, moccasins, pictures, postcards and much more. Many items were on a consignment basis. The business was an attraction to summer traffic in Marcell. Clay passed on in 1986, but Lora continued to operate there until 1988 when failing health forced her to close shop.

NORTH PINE REALTY is a new business that was started in 1982 by Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Moore. After selling the Frontier Bait store, they saw the potential for a real estate agency in Marcell. Their first office was in the old Beckman Bait Shop, but in 1985 they built a log structure right near by and where it is still located. The Moore's still own the building, but it is now rented to Terry Eddington who bought the real estate agency in 1992 and still operates the agency. The real estate firm has been a fine asset to Marcell.

Next door to ASV Inc. is the new Marcell Community Church which really saw a big change....and is very noticeable. Chapter XXIX covers the changes to the church with a very attractive new church having been constructed in 1992.

Another very noticeable change "downtown" Marcell is LAKESIDE LUMBER COMPANY. The old telephone office next to Marcell Mercantile housed a snowmobile business for a short time. In 1983 Mr. & Mrs. Mike Heinlein purchased the old telephone building and started a retail lumber business. In 1984 it was sold to Mr. & Mrs. Steve Boggs who ran same until 1986 when the Heinleins returned to operate the business. In 1989 Mr. & Mrs. Ken Oja purchased the property and continue the retail lumber business at present time. This business provides a great service to area carpenters as well as anyone else in need of building materials.

Another new business for Marcell was established in the early 1980's after the old postoffice building was vacated. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wright opened a shop where they had a variety of products to sell. THE TENDER TOURIST TRAP became a popular tourist attraction where "Dee" offered her homemade dolls as well as many souvenir items. Bob had a background in horticulture prior to coming to Marcell and created a business offering plants & flowers each spring. Bob also made clocks using tree burls and slabs of wood that were laminated with fiberglass resin. Dee & Bob had many artistic talents and created an attraction for tourists as well as local residents. The winter of 1984-85 Bob & Dee loaded a vehicle with such things as nature's cat tails, ferns, etc and took off for Florida where there was a market for those items. Then again in 1985-86 - with the other trip to Florida being so successful, they went to Florida again with another load. Bob passed away in March 1986 while they were in Florida. Memorial services were held from the Marcell Church. Dee has remarried and continues in the business with her homemade dolls and a great variety of items which have an attraction for the summer visitors looking for souvenirs.

 Marcell History has been excerpted from Memories of a Small Town, by Curtis L. Newstrom, 1995. The book Memories of a Small Town contains much more historical information about the Marcell area. More may be added to ItascaWeb at a later date if there is interest and we can find the copyright holder to obtain permission to publish on our site.

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