“Historic Backus Community Center, the heart of International Falls, where all generations celebrate arts, culture, recreation, wellness, and life-long learning”
Backus Community Center, formerly the E. W. Backus Junior High School, is an outstanding example of the Art Deco style of architecture and located in the heart of the city of International Falls. Designed by architect Nairne W. Fisher and constructed in 1936-37 as a New Deal P.W.A. project for $391,000, the building now houses a vibrant community center. Each year dozens of concerts, performances, plays and cultural activities take place in the building. It's almost 1,000-seat Auditorium is the largest performance venue within a 100-mile radius. Today the center is home to numerous arts groups, youth activities and community services. The building retains its original fixtures including terrazzo floors, polished granite hallway, light fixtures and grill work. The center also hosts a local Community Market beginning in June and running into October. Local produce, baked goods and art are featured. The Backus Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers a unique example of re-purposing a historic building for current uses.
Five other historic New Deal Era buildings still stand in the community within 2-3 blocks of the Backus Building. These include Sports Stadium built in 1941 and featuring an outstanding raised-relief sculpture of athletes. The U.S. Post Office contains a wonderful mural painted by Lucia Wiley depicting logging in the early years. Smokey Bear Park includes not only a massive statue of the famous bear and cubs, but also an Art Deco style band shell which still hosts weekly summer concerts. Across Main Street one can visit both the City Hall and Public Library; two additional examples of 1930's public works buildings.