Making History in Minnesota

As one of the first clients of Minneapolis IT support company Tech Guru, Charlene Roise has watched technology develop alongside her growing business.  Her historical consulting firm Hess, Roise and Company brings high-quality research and writing to the historic environment in Minnesota and around the country.  Learn more about what makes a building historic, the latest development at Fort Snelling, and the technology advance Hess Roise is adamantly resisting.

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Toss your hat in the air when you walk past Riverside Plaza.

The Source for Making History

Serving clients since 1990, Hess, Roise and Company was founded by Jeff Hess and Charlene Roise.  Headed by Charlene after Jeff retired in 1997, Hess Roise & Company now has five employees.  The consulting firm is known for excellent research and writing for projects relating to anything in the built environment: buildings, bridges, dams, and landscapes.

What makes a place historic?  For a start, it must be fifty years old or older to qualify.  Charlene recently completed a National Register nomination for Riverside Plaza, which opened in 1973 and was featured in the opening credits of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  If that’s uncomfortably close to the year you were born, check with Charlene.  You may be officially historic.

Developers call on the expertise of Hess Roise when renovating a building, and the results can bring millions of dollars in financing to the project.  Buildings on the National Register qualify for historic tax credits, and the extensive application process is not for the faint of heart.  A few of Hess Roise’s projects included the conversions of the Foshay Tower to a W Hotel and the Farmers & Mechanics Bank on 6th and Marquette to a Westin Hotel.

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Ghost signs tell of former occupants of a warehouse in Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood, now apartments.

Expect to Be Surprised

“It’s fun to get paid to learn and help people with really great projects,” says Charlene, whose first job was at Fort Snelling right out of high school.  Hess Roise’s job rarely ends after the development stage of building, especially because drawings of the work might not even be complete when a developer is applying for the tax credits.  “There are many surprises that come up during construction.  We usually work with designers until the project is done,” she says  In the case of the Foshay Tower, historic plaster ceilings weren’t discovered until after construction was underway.

For some projects, such as one in which Hess Roise helped create interpretive panels at Water Power Park on Hennepin Island, the only surprises are the ones for those discovering the island for the first time.  And Charlene’s personal background gives Hess Roise a leg up on one of their current projects – converting stables into housing for homeless veterans at Fort Snelling.

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Lobby of 430 Oak Grove. This elegant lobby, which once welcomed workers at an insurance company, is now enjoyed by residents of apartments in the former office building.

How Technology and History Mix

“I’m a historian, and I’m resisting cloud storage,” confesses Charlene with a laugh.  Though Hess Roise may be adverse to the cloud, the company is eager to take advantage of Tech Guru’s ideas on productivity.  “Tech Guru knows our business really well, and they’re able to improve our efficiencies.”

Describing the Hess Roise team as “memory-space hogs” because of the large volume of photography they archive, she praises Tech Guru’s ability to address the consulting firm’s growing storage needs.  In addition, Charlene is glad she listened when CEO Dan Moshe convinced her do computer upgrades all at once.  “It’s expensive,” she says of the process, “but the computers are really good at talking to each other, and it helps us keep current on new software and hardware.”

Charlene makes no apologies for leaning on Tech Guru’s mastery of technology.  “I’m a historian by training, and a businessperson by default,” she says.  “I don’t have time to learn about the latest in technology.  I need someone really good, so I can do what I’m really good at.”

Like most modern businesses, the ability to work remotely is important to Charlene and the staff at Hess Roise.  Tech Guru has enabled Hess Roise to work from home, on vacation, or on various projects around the country.

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An interpretive panel at Water Power Park on Hennepin Island.

Growing in Business with Tech Guru

“I feel really lucky that I connected with Dan early on,” says Charlene, reflecting on Tech Guru’s formative years.  “We’ve grown in our business together.  It’s fun to watch, as a fellow business owner, how Tech Guru has gone from its infancy to a really mature business.”

If you’d like to talk to Charlene about your survey or development project, contact Hess Roise or call 612-338-1987.

If you want to use technology to help your business or nonprofit make history of its own, get in touch with Tech Guru.

Dan Moshe helps business owners in the Minneapolis area with all things tech, and is the CEO of the Caring IT company Tech Guru.  He cares about your business as much as you do!