Saturday, March 06, 2010

Small (minded) Town

Lilo and I went to a party today. Our hosts were the writer Joan Claire Graham and Tom Butsch, designer. Joan and Tom also hosted us in Albert Lea MN. But the story I'm going to tell is of another guest, Susanne Crane.
Susie is an accomplished artist, and for the past 5 years she has tried to restore the historic Bessesen Building Opera house, in down town Albert Lea. Beatrice Bessesen was an Albert Lea native and her husband built the opera house for his wife in 1916. She was an internationally famous opera singer, sang for the royal German Opera Co. in Berlin and performed at Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera, There are several buildings in downtown Albert Lea that somehow involve her or the name of Bessesen.
Susie took us through the building when we were there. It was in a sad state of disrepair, crumbling, like a lot of historic buildings. She is passionate about fixing it up, but she has been stopped at every stage of the restoration by small minded people who regret selling her the building. I would never presume to tell someone else's story, but these people have slandered Susie in the local paper, revoked her charity money and tried to foreclose on her. I read a hate filled and slanderous letter calling her a psycho, and worse, and belittling her skills as an artist. Unsigned. Cowards!!!!! And this is just ONE letter posted on the door of the building.
Poor Susie is the victim of a hate campaign, and has nearly been driven out of town. I hope SOMEONE with some power reads this on google and steps up to help her. The building should be covered by Preservation Magazine, Historic societies in MN should help her hold on to a piece of history. And her critics should man up and sign their names. The anonymity of their attacks is beyond contempt.
If you read this and you can help leave a comment and I will put you in touch with Susie.
Story about Susie

1 comment:

Diane said...

Thank you for writing this blog! The word needs to get out! I've known Susie for almost 20 years - She is a kind and generous person as well as a very gifted artist. She does not deserve the terrible treatment she's received over these past years in Albert Lea. I am so happy there are some folks in her corner - especially those in Albert Lea and those who can get the word out about all the good work she is trying to do for this small town.