HJ-ED-DHJ

March 26, 2007

Dassel gives go-ahead on $300,000 museum expansion

Dassel Area Historical Society asks for $150,000 over three years from city for project

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The Dassel City Council gave the go-ahead to the Dassel Area Historical Society last Monday to expand the Universal Laboratories Building. As a result, the project’s organizers will be able to find out exactly how much the expansion will cost, and start a capital campaign for it.

Carolyn Holje and Mary Jane Arens, who presented the concept to the council at its regular meeting, asked the city to pledge $150,000 over a three-year period to the project. Council members wanted to look at the city’s budget and expenses the city is expected to have in 2008 through 2010, before they make a decision, though, said Council Member Bob Lalone.

City Administrator Myles McGrath said the council might decide to dedicate $30,000 a year for five years instead.

A rough estimate for the project is $300,000 to $325,000, according to Arens.

Project organizers are planning to create a partnership of state, county, city, township, historical society members, and community to fund the project, just as the historical society did when it began restoring the building in 1994.

“Everybody’s a winner if we can partner together,” Holje said.

Project organizers were able to raise $500,000 from $78 to restore the building when it was “pigeon-infested “and smelled awful, Holje said.

“They’ve proven they can get things done,” McGrath said.

Now that the restoration was complete as of 2001, the historical society wants to relieve the overcrowding in the building and get additional restrooms, which the society wanted to do since the beginning of the restoration, Holje said.

The society wants space for offices, library, research, storage and meetings. The entry area has a very low ceiling. The society wants to open the entry area and make it more welcoming, and add a kitchen to the gallery, Holje said.

Originally, the society considered expanding the building with three levels, but that would have cost at least $500,000, and the expansion organizers didn’t think that was realistic, Arens said.

The addition will be put on the west side of the building, and will be designed not to spoil the building’s landmark status.

The society is planning to start the capital campaign during Red Rooster Days, the first weekend in September, and start building the addition in the Spring of 2008.

Not only will the building make Dassel a tourist destination, but also make for a healthier community, Holje said.

To access past and present minutes of city council meetings, go to the web site ci.dassel.mn.us or contact the city at (320) 275-2454.


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