Category Archives: Your History. Your Museum.

Update on Historic Structure Report progress – June 2018

We are pleased to announce that Hennepin History Museum is now working with Collaborative Design Group (CDG) on our Historic Structure Report (HSR). Eight architectural firms responded to our Request for Proposals and toured the building. All eight submitted bids for the project!

We liked CDG’s focus on historic preservation and renovation which is reflected in previous projects that are similar to ours. Their team has many years of experience identifying and evaluating HVAC, mechanical, electrical and structural issues in historic buildings and making recommendations based on current and anticipated uses.

HSR kick-off 1 LR

Our kick off meeting was held on April 19th and since then we have been working closely with CDG to interpret our building’s history and evaluate its current condition. The team has been all over the building, looking in every nook and cranny, from the boiler room to the tip of our tallest chimney. It has been so interesting to work with the various specialists and learn more about our building and grounds.

Kristen Oliver reflected in doorway

Image courtesy CDG

 

The final report, which will be completed in November, will assist future planning by creating a detailed picture of the building as it is today. It will also include a prioritized list of repairs and suggested changes, such as ADA improvements, in order to make our home even more welcoming to all.

A very special thank you goes out to the volunteer members of our HSR Advisory team: John Crippen, Debbie Goettel, Reed Holiman, Kim Jeppesen, Casey Krolczyk, Cara Letofsky and Becka Rahn, and to staff representatives Kristin Kaspar, Cedar Phillips, James Bacigalupo, and Heidi Heller. Each one went the extra mile by familiarizing themselves with the National Park Service’s Brief 43 (the official guidelines for an HSR), our grant request and our RFP prior to evaluating the bids to make the final recommendation. Many from this team will continue to be available as needed as we move through the HSR project.

We plan to offer periodic updates on our HSR, both in our magazine, Hennepin History, and on our blog. Stay tuned!

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This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society. Thank you, fellow Minnesotans, for supporting arts and culture through the Legacy Amendment!

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Happy Birthday, Hennepin History Museum! We’re Celebrating 80 Years of Local History.

Image, above: Hennepin History Museum c. 1958

Today is the day: Hennepin History Museum is celebrating our 80th anniversary! On April 11, 1938, a group of residents interested in the preservation of local history gathered in the Hennepin County Commissioners’ chambers to discuss the creation of a new organization. “One of the main objects of the proposed society should,” they agreed, “be to obtain pioneer specimens now as the pioneers of Hennepin County were rapidly passing away.” The Hennepin County Board was happy to help; the County had been given a $60,000 Works Progress Administration (WPA) grant for the specific purpose of collecting historical material, and the Commissioners supported using the funds to staff the new historic society and museum. (Hennepin County still supports the museum; the County provides approximately 45% of our annual operating budget, with individuals, corporations, and foundations providing the bulk of the remainder.)

HHM first year

In 1938, the new Hennepin County Historical Society opened in one large “display room” on the second floor of Oak Hill School in St. Louis Park. Within months, we had taken over the entire second floor! Historic treasures from the county’s past flowed into to the newly formed museum, and in 1939 organizers reported that the collection “cannot be adequately shown to the public on account of lack of space and proper display conditions.” In 1944, we moved to a new home, this time located at 1516 Harmon Place in Loring Park.

Old membership card from Harmon Place

By the mid-1950s, space was yet again an issue, and the board began to seek out a larger, more permanent home. In 1958, we moved into our current home. 2303 Third Avenue South, the former residence of philanthropist Carolyn McKnight Christian, was selected for its size, its fire-resistant materials, and adequate parking.

In addition to collecting historic items relating to Hennepin County’s past, the museum’s early leaders focused on sharing history with the public. “From the beginning the Society has endeavored to make the Museum an educational force,” says one of earliest brochures. Shortly after opening we published Bohemian Flats, written by WPA writers and sponsored by the museum. We’re proud to report that this book is still in print today!

Hennepin History 1964

Our first magazine, then a quarterly bulletin, was published in April 1941, and today is one of the longest continuing historic publications in the state. Hennepin History has published articles on hundreds of local history topics. A commitment to telling the full story of Hennepin County has long been part of our mission. In 1991, for example, we became one of (and possibly the) first local history organizations in the nation to publish an article about local LGBTQ history.

That same year, following extensive community research, Hennepin County Historical Society changed its name to Hennepin History Museum. While our name may have changed, our commitment to preserving and sharing the history of Hennepin County remained the same.

For 2018, we’ve selected “why do people collect?” for our anniversary theme. We’ll be delving deep into this them through a year’s worth of programs and exhibitions, including a behind-the-scenes “visible storage” laboratory-turned-gallery. Here, visitors can watch as our volunteers and staff conduct an exhaustive inventory of our collection, and observe as tens of thousands of historic artifacts are recorded, photographed, and entered into a searchable database.

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Today, we have the opportunity to look back while at the same dreaming about our future. We invite you to join us for an exciting 2018 as we celebrate 80 wonderful history-filled years!

Your financial support makes all of this possible. Please consider becoming a member or making a financial contribution. Your support would make this birthday year even better! And a very special thank you to current members, donors, and visitors – we couldn’t do this without you.

Finding Family at HHM

We love stories like this!

Last week, Thomas P. came to HHM docent Shari Albers’ Fireside Chat about our historic Washburn Fair Oaks neighborhood and enjoyed the program so much he decided to become a member. He loves art and is a collector of various pieces by local artists. At the Chat he learned that the Portraits of the Past exhibit closing the next day, so he asked us if he could fill out his membership after he had a chance to see the gallery. As he walked through the gallery, he was surprised to see a portrait of his own great-uncle Jacob Gray! Thomas was thrilled to see his own family represented in the gallery and told us he is even more happy to become a new member.

Welcome, Thomas! We’re so happy to welcome you to the Hennepin History Museum family as a member and as a volunteer.