Monthly Archives: December 2017

Please Pass the Mustard

This unmarked pressed glass cruet set was used at the Russell Hotel and Coffee Shop, located at 14-18 South Fourth Street in downtown Minneapolis. The set consists of a glass caddy with stainless steel handle and four glass condiment containers.

For its time, this is a comparatively simple cruet set, practical, and appropriate for use in a busy hotel restaurant/coffee shop. By 1913, when this one was used, cruet sets, along with tableware, and table settings in general, had reached extremes in design and embellishment totally eclipsing any suggestion of practicality. “More is More” was the ideal. Many sets consisted of ten, even twenty condiment containers created in elaborately cut crystal and sterling silver, as well as a dizzying array of miniature serving implements for transporting the condiment from the bottle to the plate.

These elaborate affairs were most often relegated to a sideboard or buffet. Every truly well-dressed table or sideboard, though, was incomplete without a generous selection of condiments, preferably served from a fine cruet set.

This caddy was donated to Hennepin History Museum by Harriet Lycken of Minneapolis.

About the author

Jack Kabrud is curator at Hennepin History Museum.


A Warm Stone for a Cold Hennepin County Winter

Though foreign to us today, warming stones like this one have been used for centuries, and they have been made from all kinds of stone. Soapstone, however, was preferred for its ability to heat up quickly, retain the heat, and radiate it for long periods of time. For this same reason, Native Americans used soapstone to carve vessels for cooking and keeping prepared food hot.

Warming stones like this one were truly efficient and multi-functional. This one incorporates a rotating iron rod for ease in handling and use. Warming stones were generally kept near a fire or a stove, ready to be heated up at a moment’s notice for warming the bed, warming one’s feet, or wrapped in furs or woolen blankets and placed in a carriage or sleigh.

Though soapstone is highly resistant to heat damage, this example bears the hallmark of many years of continuous use. It is worn smooth at the edges, and a large piece has broken from one corner.

This warming stone was donated to Hennepin History Museum by Carl A. Herrick, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota from 1925 to 1952.

About the author

Jack Kabrud is Hennepin History Museum’s curator.

Big News! Museum Receives Large Grant for Building Needs

We have exciting news to share with our readers!

Hennepin History Museum is pleased to announce that the Minnesota Historical Society has awarded us a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant in the amount of $75,000 to support the creation of a Historic Structure Report (HSR) for our building!

What is a historic structure report and why does it matter, you ask?

“A historic structure report provides documentary, graphic, and physical information about a property’s history and existing condition. Broadly recognized as an effective part of preservation planning, a historic structure report also addresses management or owner goals for the use or re-use of the property. It provides a thoughtfully considered argument for selecting the most appropriate approach to treatment, prior to the commencement of work, and outlines a scope of recommended work. The report serves as an important guide for all changes made to a historic property during a project-repair, rehabilitation, or restoration-and can also provide information for maintenance procedures. Finally, it records the findings of research and investigation, as well as the processes of physical work, for future researchers.”

– Preservation Brief 43, National Park Service

Driving this report is a need to create a more modern environment for museum visitors, volunteers and staff, while retaining and honoring the historic character of the building.


One of many lovely and distinctive historic details that make this building special.

Two major goals of the project will include:

  • Figure out how to implement ADA improvements, such as an elevator and accessible bathrooms so that we can better serve all members of our community; and
  • Assess the current over-all condition of the building and what repairs are needed to maintain our beautiful home.



We love these dramatic steps; we don’t love that we have no elevator. The HSR is a first step towards addressing that.

We’ve been working on identifying options and making building improvements all year, but the HSR will pull together all of these needs into one comprehensive report. This is the first step in what will be a multi-year project; once we know exactly what we need to do – and how much it will cost! – we can systematically go about making it happen. The end result will be a fully functioning museum facility that fully meets the needs of our visitors and our collection.

Some background: our building was completed in 1920, and used as a family home by Carolyn McKnight Christian. The Christian Family Residence is a mix of English Renaissance Revival and late English Gothic, built by Hewitt and Brown. Hennepin History Museum has owned and occupied the building since 1957. Make sure to follow along on our blog and on social media as we’ll be sharing museum and building history throughout 2018 (our 80th anniversary as an organization!).

entrance hall. from scrapbook.

Our main hallway shortly after the building became a museum

For more information about Historic Structure Reports, see

And thank you, fellow Minnesotans, for supporting arts and culture through the Legacy Amendment!

In the meantime, if you would like to contribute to support local history – and to help us pay for all the work that has yet to be done! – you can make an online donation by clicking here.



Voices of Norway

This banner, made for the Norse Male Chorus in 1886, showcases stunning embroidery in shades of yellow, gold, green, and ivory, on a backing of ivory cotton. The central design is a classical lyre surrounded by a circlet of oak leaves and acorns.

The origins and history of the Norse Male Chorus of Minneapolis has been a challenging and illusive quest. The common consensus is that the Norse Male Chorus of Minneapolis evolved into the Norwegian Glee Club of Minneapolis. The search will continue.

The story of the creator of this outstanding embroidery is, however, well documented. The work comes from the hands of Pauline Fjelde. Pauline Fjelde was born in Norway in 1861. Her artistic gift was evident as early as grammar school where she began to paint and draw. She perfected her embroidery skills, and distinctive style, working at home with her mother. Before coming to America, in the mid-1880s she taught needlework in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Upon her arrival in Minneapolis she began embroidering textiles for Mrs. Snodgrasse’s Art Rooms, located at 16-17 Sidle Block, in downtown Minneapolis. By 1893 Pauline and her sister, Thomane, branched out on their own. They opened a needlework studio where they specialized in design and embroidery of garments, parade banners, flags, and linens. In 1893 Pauline and Thomane were commissioned to embroider the first Minnesota state flag!

Author Bio

Jack Kabrud is the curator at Hennepin History Museum.


Celebrating a Filipino Hero in the 1920s

On December 30, 1920, members of the Filipino Students’ Association of Minnesota, gathered at the Hotel Radisson to celebrate the life and to mourn the death of of Dr. Jose Rizal, a national hero in the Philippines . Twenty-four years earlier, Dr. Rizal had been executed by the then-Spanish colonial government on charges of sedition, rebellion, and conspiracy. A writer, Rizal’s work had called for political reform, and he had spoken out against Spanish abuses. His execution in 1896 further inflamed the the Philippine Revolution.

Two years later, in 1898, the United States became involved in the Spanish-American War, and in December 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in the Treaty of Paris. While some fighting continued, this time against the United States, the aftermath of the Spanish-American War brought with it a close relationship between the United States and the people of the Philippines.

This photograph entered our collection undated; while we are confident that it was taken at the December 30 banquet at the Hotel Radisson during the 1920s, we don’t know which year. The event was held annually, and for most of the decade the program stayed very similar with only the specific speakers changing.

Hanging in the rear of the Hotel Radisson’s banquet room are the flags of the United States and the Philippines, and between them, an image of Rizal. According the Minneapolis Journal, speakers from area schools and churches highlighted the good will between the two nations, but also advocated for full independence. The speakers in 1920 included students and clergy from the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas.

By 1928, things started to get complicated. While a dinner was still held at the Radisson on December 30, a competing dinner was held at the Nicollet Hotel. Both honored Rizal, but the group was splintered after a debate over dancing. The Nicollet Hotel group felt dancing at the dinner inappropriate. Speakers at the Radission dinner that night included Floyd B. Olson, then Hennepin County attorney, and St. Paul mayor L.C. Hodgeson.

On July 4, 1946, the Philippines gained full independence from the United States. December 30 remains a national day of mourning in the Philippines.