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Minnesota Historical Society website rich in historical photo's
March 28, 2011
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by Mark Ollig

Proclaiming to be the “chief caretaker of Minnesota’s story” is a rather bold statement.

The Minnesota Historical Society has been the state’s historical depository for the past 162 years, so it appears they have the qualifications.

Its website contains about 209,748 historical photographs, posters, art paintings, postcards, drawings, and other images – all stored in their visual resources database.

I was pleased to find a rich assortment of historical photographs taken of notable Minnesotans, local town street scenes, buildings, landmarks, and much more from the cities and towns all across the state.

This columnist searched the database for “Winsted” and found many historical photographs taken of my old hometown.

Some of these photographs include:

• A 1900 photograph of the Paris Millinery building located in Winsted.

I was fortunate to obtain more information about the Paris Millinery building when I sent the photograph to long-time Winsted resident and former Winsted mayor Don Guggemos.

“This is the Smolka Building, built around the 1880s. Joseph A. Smolka arrived in Winsted about 1875. He established a harness business in this building. He was also a member of the city council and very active in the local community. Smolka died suddenly in 1895 at age 58. The Winsted City Council issued a proclamation at his death. Two years after his death in 1897, his daughter, Augusta, age 18, opened a millinery shop in this building,” Don explained.

The Paris Millinery building would have been next to the old Millerbernd’s building (present-day Winsted Flagship Bank) to the north.

I created a link to the photograph of the Paris Millinery building at http://tinyurl.com/49j5f8w.

Other Winsted-related photographs include:

• An 1865 photograph of Stephen and Anna Garske, German immigrants who settled in Winsted.

• The Winsted Catholic church photographed on a postcard from 1907.

• A photograph taken in 1909 at the intersection of second Avenue, looking east along West Main Street toward Winsted Lake.

• The Winsted Catholic school (former Holy Trinity grade school building) as it stood in 1915.

• An aerial view of Winsted taken in 1969 by Vincent H. Mart.

• Another aerial view over the Winsted creamery (Pure Milk Products) from 1969.

Lester Prairie historical photographs found include:

• A 1910 photograph of the Lester Prairie City Hall.

• The “Roller Mills” building at Lester Prairie taken in 1915.

• A picture taken in 1920 of the Farmer’s Co-op Elevator.

• An aerial view of Lester Prairie taken in 1969.

• An 1895 photograph of Herman J. Henneman, who served as a Minnesota State Legislator. I was able to cross-reference him on Google books and learned Henneman was a merchant who was born in Germany in 1862, came to the US in 1871 with his parents, and resided in Lester Prairie. He was a Minnesota state senator in 1895.

Howard Lake has interesting historical pictures online as well, including:

• A 1950 photograph of “Minnesota’s largest birdhouse” taken at Timber’s Resort.

• A photograph taken in 1908 called “business block” showing downtown business buildings along today’s Highway 12.

• A photograph of The Howard Lake Creamery, taken in 1910.

• A 1915 photograph titled “Motorcycle Club run to Howard Lake” showing a group of folks on their motorcycles in front of what appears to be a corner building on County Road 6 and Highway 12.

• A photograph of St. James Lutheran Church as it stood in 1940.

• An aerial view of Howard Lake taken in 1969

• Howard Lake City Hall, photographed as it was in 1973.

Historical photographs from Cokato and Dassel include:

• A photograph of the C.A. Davis residence in Cokato taken in 1900.

• A beautifully detailed 1900 photograph of a Great Northern passenger train taken in Cokato by Dwight Barnes.

• A 1909 photograph of a bird’s-eye view of downtown Cokato (includes a nice view of the water tower).

• An 1880 photograph of a group of school children in front of the post office/drug store in Dassel.

• A slightly colorized 1908 photograph of buildings along Dassel’s main street.

• A 1910 photograph from Dassel which reads, “New town hall and Main Street looking east.” The photographer was G.W. Swanstrom.

Delano also has many historical photographs online at the Minnesota Historical Society:

• A 1900 photograph of Delano’s main street taken by John Warner.

• A beautifully colorized 1900 photograph of River Street.

• An excellently detailed photograph of the “Wagon Bridge” crossing the Crow River in Delano, taken in 1915.

• An aerial view of the Delano area photographed in 1972.

More photographs of these and other surrounding towns are stored in this visual resources database.

A person could spend hours looking at them.

Preserving our town’s photographs and history – on paper and digitally – for future generations to see – is vital.

To use the visual resources database, go to http://collections.mnhs.org/visualresources.

The Minnesota Historical Society website is located at http://www.mnhs.org.

After spending time viewing these historical photographs and their other collections, I have come to realize the Minnesota Historical Society is indeed, one of the chief caretaker’s of Minnesota’s story.


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