Freeborn Bank and Jacobsen Building

Albert Lea, MN

The City of Albert Lea was faced with deciding what to do with a historic, but unused, structure. After years of neglect, the former Freeborn Bank Building and the adjacent Jacobsen Building located along Broadway Avenue in Albert Lea were at the point of requiring major rehabilitation or demolition.  Not wanting to destroy two historical buildings in the heart of the downtown district, the City of Albert Lea decided to restore the exterior of the buildings in hopes of attracting a reuse.

The Freeborn Bank and Jacobsen buildings are nationally recognized for their design of that period.  Built in 1922, both buildings have a unique, detailed terra cotta facade.  Few buildings of that time were built with such elegance and charm.  

The brick and terra cotta on both buildings was tuck pointed, cleaned, and damaged sections were replaced.  The 14-foot high steel-framed windows were replaced with aluminum-framed windows designed using national historic preservation standards.  The roof was replaced and structurally reinforced to accommodate a deck that allows a breathtaking overlook of Albert Lea and its surrounding lakes.  A skylight was also installed over an upper level open air courtyard between the two buildings.  The skylight allows natural light into the inner spaces of the buildings while keeping out the pigeons.

With its public lobby, the Freeborn Bank building is the anchor and entry to both buildings.  The Freeborn Bank has all its charm intact, including many vault depositaries.  The main floor has 19-foot high ceilings with 15-foot high windows directing sunlight to showcase the building’s coffered ceilings, detailed columns and marble floors.  The two buildings share a magnificent 4-story, sky lit atrium which brings additional filtered light from the roof.  

The Freeborn Bank is a concrete post and beam structure.  The Jacobsen Building is a wood interior floor system with masonry walls.  Both buildings are four levels above grade and one level below grade.  The elevator systems, one passenger and one freight, are expressed on the flat roofs.

  • Excellence in Concrete and Masonry Design & Construction Award, MN Concrete & Masonry Contractors Association
  • Award of Excellence, MN Associated Builders and Contractors
  • Featured in Architecture MN Magazine, A Publication by AIA, MN, A Society of the American Institution of Architects