History museum

Crow Wing County History Museum unveils new 150th anniversary exhibit

The 150th anniversary exhibit was unveiled on Friday, September 24 when the facility reopened during Brainerd History Week, an event that has lasted for 150 years.

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“I was a visitor here before the pandemic. … And then when I read – for the anniversary – it would be open for an open house, I just thought “If I can make it happen, I’ll be there,” Leach said on Friday while viewing the based exhibit. on Brainerd. .

The 87-year-old traveled from Cass County to Crow Wing after the recent restoration and renovation of the three-story museum located in the former Sheriff’s residence on Laurel Street in Brainerd.

“There were things in the museum before, but they were ‘here and there,’ then as the 150th anniversary approached, I thought, ‘Let’s put all these things in one space to celebrate Brainerd,’ Hillary said. Swanson, executive director of the company.

The 150th anniversary exhibit includes, for example, a small room designed to resemble an old-fashioned grocery store with an old-fashioned cash register and common household items that many would recognize today without the packaging.

“We created these wonderful photos that are all in place – every photo here is from our collection, I have to say first of all – photos of stores that all existed in Brainerd at one point, and I tried to recreate that feeling here, ”Swanson said.

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Leach said, “I grew up on a farm near a small town in southern Minnesota, and that’s how this store was. I don’t remember a cash register, but then I didn’t work behind the counter… but I knew the people.

Leach is a member of the League of Women Voters and said the museum has authorized storage of some of the league files that were on display at the museum inside the facility.

“It brings back fond memories of being there with my parents or – when I was older – being on my own to get what was needed,” Leach said of her hometown grocery store in West Concord in. Dodge County, a city with a population of 782 in 2010.

Elaine Leach, 87, of Lake Shore, recalls the new 150th anniversary exhibit unveiled Friday, September 24, 2021 at the grand reopening and open house of the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Research Library at Brainerd town center.  Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

Elaine Leach, 87, of Lake Shore, recalls the new 150th anniversary exhibit unveiled Friday, September 24, 2021 at the grand reopening and open house of the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Research Library at Brainerd town center. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

The Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Research Library in downtown Brainerd smoothly reopened in June. The museum had been closed since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The historical society had previously received a grant of $ 47,649 to replace storage shelves in the attic and closet on the second floor, a grant made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment. .

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“And to accomplish that, we had to literally move every object in there. And I started to meet so many different things that were Brainerd things that weren’t in a cohesive exhibit, ”Swanson said of the idea of ​​creating a new 150th anniversary exhibit.

The museum’s permanent exhibits include those related to lumber, railways, agriculture, mining and education, while the library includes thousands of photographs, microfilm, books and historical documents.

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The three-story museum and library are located in a single building adjacent to the historic Crow Wing County Courthouse and attracted 2,309 visitors in 2019, according to Swanson.

The building is owned and maintained by the county.

Executive Director Hillary Swanson talks about a bicycle made in Brainerd in the 1890s and other items on display in the Brainerd 150th Anniversary Exhibit on Friday, September 24, 2021 at the Crow Wing County Historical Society as part of the events of celebration of the hundred and fiftieth anniversary week.  Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Executive Director Hillary Swanson talks about a bicycle made in Brainerd in the 1890s and other items on display in the Brainerd 150th Anniversary Exhibit on Friday, September 24, 2021 at the Crow Wing County Historical Society as part of the events of celebration of the hundred and fiftieth anniversary week. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Frequent patrons of the tourist attraction will notice updates to the museum’s pre-existing logging exhibit and military exhibit, updates that were made during the pandemic. But the 150th anniversary exhibit will be another reason for longtime visitors to explore the museum.

“This fantastic bike was made here in Brainerd in the 1890s,” Swanson said of a bike in the show. “We were able to find a map of the location of this store, an advertisement for the store, and then photographs and newspaper articles about cycling in the 1890s.”

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Swanson said an ordinance was passed in 1899 requiring all bicycles to be registered for a fee of $ 1 and that all of these funds were spent on creating trails or paths for cyclists so they wouldn’t not use the sidewalks. These kinds of historical anecdotes are also included and displayed in the new exhibit.

“The funny thing is that most of the information comes from the Brainerd Dispatch,” Swanson said of his hometown’s award-winning newspaper, founded in the 1880s.


– Hillary Swanson, Executive Director of the Crow Wing County Historical Society

Other notable items in the new 150th anniversary exhibit include a wooden water pipe from 1881 and bottles from the Brainerd Carbonated Beverage Co., established when Joseph Cibuzar purchased a bottling plant in 1921.

“He eventually sold to Coca-Cola, but those Coca-Cola bottles are still stamped ‘Brainerd Minn’ at the bottom, so they’re from here specifically,” Swanson said.

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The grand reopening and open house on Friday also included a dedication by the James Olav Saboe Library in the basement of the building. The late Saboe was a frequent patron of the Research Library and the New Library features its collection of approximately 350 county-related books.

“We had an incredible turnout today which is just great – great to see people wanting to see their local history – but certainly that interest is showing up in our research library with people doing genealogy.” Swanson said on Friday.

The Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Research Library is located at 320 Laurel Street in Brainerd. For more information on how to become a member or other details call 218-829-3268, email [email protected] or visit www.crowwinghistory.org.

FRANK LEE can be reached at 218-855-5863 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchFL.



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