SPMH goal: preserve Minneota's heritage
The Society for the Preservation of Minneota's Heritage (SPMH), which was established in 1978, has been given a jumpstart after 42 years, with a new group having the same goals.
A small number of interested people met on June 23, 2020 in the library to discuss rekindling the SPMH. Present at the meeting were Daren Gislason, Gary Buysse, Mary Buysse, Wendy Sarazyn, Allan Josephson, Sandy Josephson, and Judy Hagen.
Several of this group are also members of Friends of the Minneota Library. Officers were chosen, with Wendy Sarazyn elected President, Gary Buysse elected Vice President, and Sandy Josephson elected Secretary-Treasurer.
Gislason agreed to be the group's historical consultant, as he has several items in his home that he would like preserved and displayed. Such items include books, letters, and photographs stored in original trunks that belonged to early immigrants that came to the Minneota area.
"I became interested in Minneota’s historical society because I love old buildings," said Sarazyn. "And the Society for the Preservation of Minnesota’s Heritage had the vision to save the Big Store and make plans to repurpose the building for a variety of possible community uses. I want to help continue the work they started."
Gislason is the lone surviving member of the original Minneota Historical Society board of directors and his background and knowledge will be invaluable in helping to preserve Minneota's heritage. Gislason has been trying to keep the historical society alive on his own for years, but recently had questioned whether it should be disbanded or continued under new leadership.
Along with Gislason, the other original members were: Ralph Larson, Rita Peterson, Frank Rebnord, Kenneth Nomeland, Mildred Mootz and Richard Erickson.
When the group first presented the proposal of forming a historical society that could be located in the vacant former Big Store building in the mid-70s, they received many letters of support, including one from former State Treasurer Val Bjornson, a one-time editor of the Mascot.In an original "Articles of Incorporation" set out by the SPMH, it stated: The purpose of forming the non-profit corporation was to preserve the heritage of the City of Minneota and surrounding community; to acquire and maintain historical data, relics, items of interest such as historical sites, to acquire real and personal property or interest, or rights therein for such purposes and to transact all businesses properly connected with or incidental to any or all purposes stated above.
With a new elevator being installed in the former Big Store building, the second floor Opera Hall can be restored and used by the SPMH.
"With COVID, we are reluctant to set up any meetings but just move ahead with doing the physical things that need to be done as best we can," said Josephson. "Funds that SPMH have were given specifically for preserving town history."
The original group's Prospectus was presented by the Minneota Bicentennial Committee in 1976. In it was a proposal for several uses of The Big Store building, including a library and a meeting area for senior citizens, both of which were achieved, as well as the use of the Opera Hall for various activities. A grant was then received from the Minnesota Historical Society for $9,000.
"As we move forward in this era of COVID-19 in the year 2020, there is a need to continue meeting to discuss our renewed mission, with future goals and plans," the SPMH committee said in a press release. "Unfortunately, it is impossible to set a date for this meeting at this time."
The group is seeking people interested in joining and providing input for SPMH to move forward. Monetary donations are welcome and will be needed to help with costs that will incur.
If you have questions, or wish to volunteer to help or make a donation, please contact Wendy Sarazyn or Sandy Josephson.
Watch The Mascot for information about future meetings.