By Heather Hoagland, HHM Collections Manager
This chair was made to suit the special needs of a disabled child who attended the Dowling School in Minneapolis. While we don’t know what those needs were, the desk lifts on a hinge and the high back raises. It likely dates from the 1940s or 1950s.
Above: child using similar chair
The Dowling School, established in 1920, was the first school for the disabled in Minnesota and one of the longest continuously operating schools in the area. Today it is an urban environmental learning center, serving students of all ability levels.
Above: Dowling students outside the school
The school opened with just 17 students in January, 1921, but quickly grew to fill a needed gap in the Minneapolis educational system, serving handicapped children throughout the region. In 1923, the school moved to its current location on 21 wooded acres overlooking the Mississippi, which was a gift from Minneapolis mayor William Eustis. In the 1930s, Dowling was the recipient of WPA funding to build an aqua therapy school. President and First Lady Roosevelt visited the school to dedicate the pool, which is still in use today.
The school’s founder, Michael Dowling, lost three limbs in a blizzard at the age of fourteen but went on to graduate from Carleton College—my alma mater!—and have a successful career as a businessman and speaker of the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Above: Michael Dowling
This fez belonged to Henry Sparby, who was a member of the Zuhrah Temple and the Minnesota Consistory No. 2 as early as 1920. The model for Mr. Sparby’s fez is our own George H. Christian—first owner and overseer of construction of the Christian mansion where Hennepin History Museum is now located.
The Zuhrah Temple is the local chapter of the fraternal system known as Shriners International. With over 2,000 members, the Zuhrah Temple is the largest shrine in the Midwest region.
Today, the order is based in Minnetonka, but it has a long history. It was one of the first centers in the Midwest, obtaining a charter in 1886 along with St. Paul, Chicago, St. Louis, Cedar Rapids, Milwaukee and Grand Rapids.
The Zuhrah Temple is proud that the first uniformed marching unit was the Zuhrah Patrol, meaning the long tradition of Shriners marching in parades began here in Hennepin County. There have also been three leaders (“Potentates”) in Zuhrah history to become national leaders (“Imperial Potentates”).
Shriner fraternities, like the Zuhrah Temple, are dedicated to fellowship and philanthropy. They work to improve their communities by giving back through service and financial support. Across the country, Shriners are particularly known for establishing hospitals in their communities. The Zuhrah Temple completed the Twin Cities Shrine Hospital in 1923.
The fez was donated by the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center.
My dear paranormal enthusiasts — it is I, Miss Teria. How I love to welcome you all into the Christian family mansion and ply you with food, drinks, and entertainment on The Night of the Unknown. Each time I host, I select a mystery object from our shadowy collections. You have an opportunity to get into the party for free, if you guess it correctly.
A very special Night of the Unknown took place on October 21st 2016. My friends from the Minnesota Paranormal Investigators demonstrated how they use their equipment and attendees tried their hand at making extrasensory phenomena manifest.
The hints for this mystery object can be found in the Facebook invite and the discussion. The answers were as follows: CLUE 1: Anatomy; CLUE 2: doctor; CLUE 3: table
The mystery object was a doctor’s table circa 1890’s – 1900. It was donated in the 1970’s from a Swedish hospital.
Until next time,