By Caroline Wigmore
DASSEL, MN - The building that now houses Little Red Hen in Dassel has been used for many things over the years, from clothing stores, to the newspaper office and more. Little Red Hen is adding onto its history with its purchase of the building from the Enterprise Dispatch.
The building belonged to the Enterprise Dispatch since 1961 and was sold to Kent and Brenda Rydberg, owners of Little Red Hen, in February.
“It’s been a really good location for us,” Brenda said. Kent and Brenda had been renting the building from the Enterprise Dispatch since Little Red Hen opened about a year and a half ago.
Chris Schultz, publisher of the Enterprise Dispatch, the Herald Journal, and the Delano Herald Journal, is pleased to see that the building will continue to create additional activity for Dassel’s downtown area.
“It’s a neat piece of history in Dassel,” Schultz said.
The Enterprise Dispatch will continue to have a drop box outside the building for use by the newspaper.
Little Red Hen has certainly created more activity for Dassel as it has built a reputation throughout the area as being a hot spot for vintage and unique items for the home through its occasional sales.
“Without the support of the local community, I would be up the crick,” Brenda added.
She has several women who “hunt and gather” items from thrift stores, garage sales, and auctions that are then repaired, refinished, and sold in the shop.
Little Red Hen has come a long way since it opened a year and a half ago, and now has 550 people signed up for its bimonthly mailings, and 150 signed up for its e-mails that tell about upcoming sales and the themes of the sales.
The Little Red Hen building and property have been an important point in Dassel’s history dating back to 1871, when it was sold for $100 to Parker and Emily Simons. In order to purchase land during that time, the US president had to sign off on the sale, which caused closings to drag on for months.
President Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th US president, signed off on the sale of the property.
There are several points of interest in the history of the site, one of which includes a foreclosure of the property in 1888. It was then sold at a public auction at the front door of the courthouse in Litchfield by the Meeker County Sheriff Nils Holm.
Later, in 1931, the building on the property was destroyed by fire and was then rebuilt as the building that it is today.
Leighton Manthei purchased the building and turned it into a men’s and children’s clothing store. In 1959, George Freeman purchased the building and turned it into a men’s and women’s clothing store along with Selma Freeman. The store was called Freeman’s Clothing and was divided into two halves, one for women’s clothing and one for men’s.
It was in 1961 that Walter and Helen Johnson purchased the building in order to use it as the Enterprise Dispatch.
Their daughter Carolyn and son-in-law Dan Holje took over the building and the paper in 1980.
In 2000, the Holjes sold the building to Bob Bradford who became the owner and publisher of the Enterprise Dispatch for approximately five years. Bradford then sold the building to Herald Journal.
A few items still remain from the old days of the newspaper, such as a lithography machine, Schultz donated to media museum in Hallock, Minn., which is located in the northwest part of the state.