VIDEO: Thief River Falls care center keeps city's memories aliveFor 92-year-old Pearl Battleson, getting wheeled down the hallway of the newly built Thief River Care Center is like a trip down memory lane. Between the two living-quarters wings are rooms with false fronts that beckon Thief River Falls’ past.
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
THIEF RIVER FALLS — For 92-year-old Pearl Battleson, getting wheeled down the hallway of the newly built Thief River Care Center is like a trip down memory lane.
Between the two living-quarters wings are rooms with false fronts that beckon Thief River Falls’ past.
The false front of the conference room is the marquee of the former Falls Theater that was on LaBree Avenue.
“I remember meeting my husband at the theater. It was 10 cents for a ticket then,” Battleson said. “Afterwards, we went for a malted milk that we shared. We couldn’t afford one for each of us.”
Next door to the conference room/Falls Theater is the rehab center/Mobil gas station, with one authentic gas pump and two replicas. The price on the pump is 42 cents a gallon.
“The residents call it the Fix-It Shop because both cars and themselves go there to get fixed up,” Administrator Michele Halvorson said.
Other false fronts recreated from local icons include the Ben Franklin store for recreation therapy, the Elks for staff offices, the Evergreen Eating Emporium for the dining room and the Northern State Bank and Border State Bank for the nursing stations.
“It’s a very elaborate place,” Battleson said. “It brings back memories.”
Bringing back memories is precisely the idea because familiarity brings comfort.
The same strategy is used for the rooms’ outside appearance. Each has a different look through colors, materials and painted “windows.” Thief River
Falls homes were used as models.
“The different looks also will help people who might forget where their room is,” Halvorson said.
An artist completed the look, painting blue sky, clouds and birds onto the ceilings. She also has added accessories such as posters of film classics “Sound of Music” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” outside the movie theater.
The only visible vertical beam in the building of 80,000 square feet is disguised to look like a tree. In the living-quarters wings, the trees are hybrids, as their trunks are genuine, but their leaves are made of plastic.
The new $16 million care center, offering only long-term care, opened Nov. 11. It has 70 residents, with an average age of 87.
“There’s no comparison between this and the old one,” resident Vikki Card said. “It’s like being in a village rather than in a nursing home atmosphere.
“The other place was drab and smelled. You can call this your home.”
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send email to email@example.com .