By Tasha Schiedel
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN The Merry Prairie Garden Club of Lester Prairie has been busy this season. Many projects are being planned and some have been completed. For one particular project, the garden club is giving a Lester Prairie landmark known as the “silent sentry” an overhaul.
Silent Sentry history
In 1909, Lester Prairie had its first automobile owner, Herman Engler. As the automobile became more popular, the need for safety became noticeable. At the time Lester Prairie did not have stop signs at the intersection of Central Avenue and Juniper Street.
To control the automobile and pedestrian traffic, Lester Prairie built a concrete planter called the “silent policeman,” and placed it in the intersection. (Later, it became known as the silent sentry.)
“I think around 1945 the [Silent] Policeman moved,” said Lester Prairie history enthusiast Charlotte Ehrke, owner of Charlotte’s Beauty Shop.
The planter now rests in Central Square Park, between the gazebo and Big Don’s Carthedral along Central Avenue.
Over the years, citizens of the community placed flowers atop the pillar, and Ehrke helped with watering the flowers when needed.
Members of the local American Legion Auxiliary maintained the sentry for a number of years, and it has now switched hands in order to help preserve a part of Lester Prairie’s heritage.
With help from the Merry Prairie Garden Club, other volunteers, and donations from the community, the sentry will be getting a makeover and some color this season.
At this time, the silent sentry has been repaired and painted by City Council Member Bob Messer of Lester Prairie.
Funded by the garden club and the American Legion Auxiliary, plants from Holasek Flower Power Garden Center will soon be planted by Reada Lukes.