Josh Brewers (inset). The lamp as seen from the top. Brewers put a glass top on the table portion to allow viewers to see the company name that made the former Big Store pulley used for the base.

History comes to light at library

Josh Brewers turns Big Store elevator pulley into base for table lamp

Before the new elevator was installed recently in the Minneota Public Library, the former Big Store manually operated elevator was taken apart and a new shaft built by Josh Brewers and his crew from JB Carpentry.
Some of the parts of the old freight elevator used by the former Big Store were retained with plans for repurposing them, while some of the bigger and heavier parts were not.
One of the large parts was a heavy pulley-like apparatus that housed the rope which was originally pulled to raise and lower the elevator to transport freight to each of the three floors -- the basement, main floor and the Opera Hall on the top floor. A cable later replaced the rope on the pulley when the elevator became motorized.
The new elevator was installed by a Dakota Lifts and, although it no longer travels to the basement, it has made life much easier for some people in reaching the top floor instead of climbing the 26 steps.
Last Wednesday, May 25, librarian Gail Perrizo and SPMH President Wendy Sarazyn got a surprise gift from Brewers, who has also done other construction work at the former Big Store building, including the library conference room.
"I called Wendy and asked her if she could meet me at the library," Brewers said. "I didn't tell her what the reason was."
Brewers then brought out lamp he had put together, using that large 80-pound, pulley as the base.
"She didn't say anything for the longest time," Brewers laughed.
Sarazyn's initial reaction was one of pleasant surprise.
"I loved it," she said. "Just the idea that something from the original building being repurposed is exciting. Now people can see what the pulley that was used for the old elevator looked like."
Brewers said he probably had put a total of four or five hours into making the working end table lamp over a period of time.
"My wife and I were in an antique store, and as I was looking around, I got the idea to make this lamp using that pulley," he said. "I like historical things and I didn't want to throw the pulley away since it came from the Big Store."
He used some other old pieces unrelated to the Big Store in constructing the rest of the lamp.
"I put a glass top on it so people can read the name of the St. Paul manufacturing company that made it on the one side of the pulley.
The lamp with its rich history is now displayed inside the library.

The former Big Store elevator pulley was repurposed into a table lamp and donated to the library by Josh Brewers. Contributed photo

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