Home Investment Building

Albert Lea Historical Downtown Walking Tour

Home Investment Building

Albert Lea, Minnesota 56007, United States

Created By: Freeborn County Historical Museum


Home Improvement Building, 141 East William

At various periods throughout its history, this had been called the Home Improvemtn Building, the Hyde Building and the Lea Center. Constructed between 1915 and 1916, this six-story building is the tallest in downtown Albert Lea. Sections of the dark-red brick facades on the east and south were painted green in the 1960s.

On the south and east facades the doorways are on the first story; three doorways in the south facade and one doorway in the east facade. White terra-cotta plaques ornament the red-brick sections between the window bays on the east and south facades. White terra-cotta tile stringcourses are situated above the storefronts and below the cornice on the same facades. The stamped-metal cornice with a dentil and egg-and-dart motif is intact, and the original openings for light fixtures remain on the underside of the cornice. The second through sixth stories on the south facade each have four window bays.

On March 31, 1915, a newspaper headline proclaimed: "Greatest Building Improvement in City's History. $150,000.00 Erickson, Harm, Subby Office Building to have 6 Floors of Modern Fireproof Construction. Demands for Space are Flooding Owners. Will Bring Many People Here." The three instigators behind the building's construction were "all home grown, and self made." Alex C. Erickson was president of the Albert Lea State Bank. Henry J. Harm had a jewelry store on Broadway and was serving as the city's mayor. Oscar Subby, a Danish immigrant, joined the Albert Lea police force in 1899 and held the office of Freeborn County sheriff from 1904 to 1914. During the 1910s, he was also president of the Albert Lea Grader Manufacturing Company, which made horse-drawn graders and other equipment; Erickson was secretary and treasurer of the firm. "For several years [the three men] have been connected with almost every big local enterprise," the article observed. "And what is much better, they have been successful. Their success means a bigger and better Albert Lea." They had registered a corporation, the Albert Lea Home Investment Company, with Minnesota's
secretary of state on May 3, 1912. They later teamed up to develop a large subdivision on the north side of town.

Oscar Subby and the Broadway gun battle

This point of interest is part of the tour: Albert Lea Historical Downtown Walking Tour


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