Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published January 06 2012
Halgrimson: Avalon building has musical history
It’s where, in my youth, I climbed three flights of stairs to take piano lessons from Mrs. Iva Fillebrown. At the time, it was called the Concordia College Conservatory of Music. There were studios for this purpose at the top of the building.
But after a few years, I stopped my piano lessons – not because of the steps but because we had to play in a recital every year and it made me so terrified I couldn’t function. Not continuing my lessons is one of the great regrets of my life.
Much later my brother Craig and my father, Gerry Hunter, also negotiated those steps to take piano lessons from Ole Syverson. My father had, at one time, had his own band, but he couldn’t read music as he played by ear – thus the lessons.
In my teens, the place to go to buy records was the basement of Daveau’s, where Bill Buck was the manager. He always had a smile for his young customers and would put on a record for us while we went into a booth to listen to the music.
But before the structure was Daveau’s, it was called the Stone Piano Company built in 1908 by Charles R. Stone.
Stone was born at Crown Point, Ind., in 1865. He left school at age 12 to operate his family’s farm after his father died.
His musical ability became evident early in his life when he took up the accordion and later the violin and piano.
Stone graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music and moved to Anoka, Minn., where he opened a studio and taught piano and violin classes.
In 1884 he went to St. Paul and became connected with Dyer Brothers Piano Co. as a salesman. He was assigned to the Dakota territory with headquarters in Fargo.
The business operated for many years at 614-616 1st Ave. N., until he built his own store across the street. Stone died in 1935 and his son, also Charles R. Stone, took over the business.
A.J. Daveau joined the Stone Music Co. in 1918 and later went into the business with Stone’s son.
Daveau purchased the Stone building in 1956 and operated the business until the Schmitt Music Co. of Minneapolis purchased it in 1974. Schmitt also bought the Daveau business at 512 Center Ave. in Moorhead.
After extensive renovations in 2000, the old Stone/Daveau building opened as the Avalon Events Center. Part of the building has been the location of several different restaurants, the latest being Taste of Italy at the Avalon, which moved from its space across the street in October. The restaurant is under the direction of General Manager and Executive Chef Pat Lipsiea.
During all of those years I hiked up the stairs to the third floor for my lessons, I never saw the ballroom on the second floor until it became a restaurant. But with the new restaurant, I plan to visit often.