Museum grand opening July 11


Staff Writer

Dreams do come true if you are patient and willing to put some equity into them. It helps to believe and say a few prayers.

The Clarks Grove Area Heritage Society began about 20 years ago with just a few people thinking ahead and interested in preserving the artifacts, pictures and stories that made Clarks Grove the great town it is.

From that humble beginning, loyal citizens kept meeting and discussing how nice it would be if there was a place in town that could be established to preserve the pictures and memorabilia that people might want to donate. Phyllis Hanson and Kathy Jensen talked often about a museum and the topic of finding a place was brought up at nearly every heritage society meeting. Several members of the society started checking out possible sites that might be available. 

The old creamery was thought ideal, being the first cooperative creamery in Minnesota, but there were too many drawbacks. The condition and layout of the building made it inadequate and too difficult to accommodate the elderly and handicapped.

Everett, along with Elzo Peterson, kept looking for a place, as the heritage society’s original goal was to get a museum established by 1995. Unfortunately the society didn't have the means, or the money, to meet that goal — but the thought stayed strong.

In the fall of 2013 Everett Jensen approached the city council with a plan the society had developed. Though they had been working on gathering donations and holding fundraising events, the society knew they didn't have the funds that would be needed for this entire project, so they asked the city if they could help.

The city was the key that helped open the doors for a museum as they helped pay the remaining amount of money required.

Everett’s original idea was to construct a 24x36 building but the "city fathers'" felt that would be too small. They were right, as donations are already coming to light from people who were saving items for a museum.

Construction began in June of 2014 and the society was able to start moving items into the building the first part of December.

The Clarks Grove Area Heritage Museum is located at 103 Independence Ave., just north of the fire department and water tower.

The society is planning an open house and ribbon cutting Saturday, July 11 from 2 to 4. It is hoped people will attend to see this great new addition to the city of Clarks Grove. It is hoped that once they have seen some of the items in the museum they too will think of things they might like to add and preserve as part of the history of the Clarks Grove area.

People are encouraged to contact members of the heritage society if they have questions, or would like to donate memorabilia and pictures. Letters, especially for those who no longer live in the area and have ties to Clarks Grove, can be

 sent to the Clarks Grove Area Heritage Society at Post Office Box 188, Clarks Grove, MN 56016.

Currently there are about 30 members in the heritage society, which meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month, April through October. Everyone is welcome to attend the meetings, which typically are attended by 15-20 loyal members. Marvel Beiser serves as chairman of the society and said it has been a real joy being able to get a museum established. Everett Jensen is vice chair and that it would be interesting to know how much time they have put into this project. Kathy Jensen serves as the group’s secretary/treasurer. The society is anxious to get many great historical items displayed so many people can enjoy them.

In the beginning the First Baptist Church was known to be located at Bath Township, in the late 1800s, even though it was located in what would later be established as the city of Clarks Grove, which was established in 1890 but had first been settled in 1863. The railroad, another great milestone for Clarks Grove, started coming through the city in 1901.

The heritage society felt it was important to establish a museum before many of the important historical items of the area were gone. They are proud of what they have already received and are able to display. They hope that as family leaders from the area pass on and families are sorting through their things, they may consider donating items to the museum.

They have already established some great displays of pictures regarding churches, cemeteries and schools. They also have pictures about the history of the Clarks Grove Lumber Company, which became a corporation in May of 1902 as well as the creamery, which opened in 1890. An event commemorating the creamery was in 1996 and included a special stamp cancellation.

One of the early members of the city, Hans Jensen, went back to Denmark in 1884 so he could see how a centrifugal cream separator worked, as well as learned about co-op creameries so that one could be established here.

The post office was established in 1857 by John Mead Clark, the town’s namesake, and the State Bank of Clarks Grove was also established in those early years.

The heritage society said they would like to get copies of obituaries of some of the people from the area over the years, especially from those early years of Clarks Grove.

The society said they don't have an old cook stove yet, or a Sears Roebuck Catalog, but are hoping those things can be added. They would also like to get an old crank type telephone. Tom Lang has already donated an old telephone book and the society said it would be interesting to add more.

They have several older Albert Lea Tigers Yearbooks: 1928, 1929, 1930, and 1931, as well as 1938 and 1939, along with an old sewing machine, some smaller kitchen items, including some old plates and cups and saucers, as well as some small farm equipment and tools.

A thank you board is displayed in the museum, which shares special thanks to the city of Clarks Grove for their interest and generosity in helping provide a building for a museum. There is also a framed thank you board listing the names of people and business that have already contributed money for the project.

There is joy and pride in this new addition to Clarks Grove. Like former Mayor Paul Hanson once said, “Clarks Grove is the best town, in the best county, in the best state, in the best country, in the world."

Mark your calendars for Saturday, July 11.