Editor's Note: The following story was submitted by Torleif Sorenson, a technical writer who lives in St. Paul, for Roseville Patch.
Roseville photographer and designer Michelle Manke is heavily involved in area politics as a graphic designer and project coordinator.
But an historical artifact shows that Manke’s links to the State Capitol actually run deeper than her design work.
In September of 2011, construction and restoration workers renovating the dome of the state Capitol discovered a small copper clamp just below the ball at the top of the dome. Hand-scribed into that clamp was the following text: “O. C. Manke, August 10, 1902.”
Almost immediately, researchers chronicling the renovation of the Capitol for a television documentary and website began investigating the rare find. The detective work of project researcher Dave Riehle led him to Michelle Manke—great-granddaughter of Otto C. Manke.
Riehle, a locomotive engineer and local history enthusiast, is a member of a team that has been researching the workers and contractors involved in the construction of the Minnesota statehouse. The group’s project is called, "Who Built Our Capitol?"
Riehle and fellow researchers Dan Ganley, John Sielaff, and Victoria Woodcock have located and reviewed thousands of documents and photos, and made contact with many descendants of the builders—including Michelle Manke and her mother, Dorothy.
On Friday morning (Aug.10). Manke will photograph the St. Paul skyline from the top of the Capitol, just steps away from where her great-grandfather left his mark exactly 110 years earlier.
Manke will be accompanied by the project’s film crew, who will include her photographs in their documentary, along with circa-1904 photographs that Riehle and his researchers recently discovered.
Born and raised in Roseville, Manke is the owner of Manke Studio and is quickly becoming a highly sought-after political campaign literature designer in the north metro area. Among the candidates that have already retained her services are Tony Hernandez, who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional district; Mark Fotsch (State House from District 66A), April King (State Senate from District 50), and Rick Karschnia (State Senate from District 65).
This University of Minnesota Labor Education Service project is supported by the State of Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society, the Butler Family Foundation, Education Minnesota Foundation and the Bricklayers, Carpenters, Operating Engineers, Sheet Metal Workers and Teamsters unions.
The university’s Capitol project team encourages anyone who has information about people who worked on the original building of the Capitol, or later restoration efforts, to contact Randy Croce, project coordinator and video producer, at email@example.com or (612) 625-5546.