NEW MILL MUSEUM Lindsborg News-Record July 1, 2021
Old Mill Museum ownership to transfer to a 501(c)3 nonprofit on August 1, 2020 by Leslie Manning/LNR
In 2007, the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed over the Missippi River in downtown Minneapolis.
"Right after that, the federal government implemented new guidelines about bridges and inspectio of bridges," Becky Anderson said. The bridge by the Old Mill Museum needed inspection and inspecting the bridge was going to cost money, so they were going to close it."
Anderson, who has servered on the Lindsborg Ciy council since 2000, attended the meeting when McPherson County COmmissioners offered to sell the Old Mill Museum property to the City of LIndsborg.
"I kept thinking, okay I don't want the city to own this property," Anderson said. "It's such a cumbersome thing for cities to own anything, and we already had plenty of public park property to maintain." After years of conversation, a new organization, LIndsborg Old Mill and Swedish Heritage Museum Inc., was launched as a 501(c)3 to receive the museum from McPherson County. On Monday, May 17, the McPherson COunty COmmission approved a resolution scheduling the transfer.
According to the Mill History timeline, under the exhibits menu item on the McPherson County official government website, the Smoky Valley Roller Mill that sits on the Old Mill Museum property first operataed under the guidance of Charles Johnson and C.R> Sunstrom in 1872 as a grist mill. Eight years later, a flood damagaed the mill, so in 1882 J. G. Bergsten and Francis Johnson built a second grist mill.
In 1889, the grist mill was converted to a modern roller mill, and a year later Theo Teichgraeber leased the mill and added steam power. In 1892, Teichgraeber purchased the mill, to loose the mile to fire in 1897. Teichgraeber rebuilt in 1898, and the mill he build t still stands, even after a major flood in 1903 damaged the property.
The flour mill stayed inthe Teichgraeber family for nearly 18 years, inderited by sons EMil and Carl Teichgraeber in 1908, after their parents passed away in 1907.
The 1910, William Hagstrom and Emmanueil Hagstrom and their spouses purchased the mill, closing for a time in the 1920's. In 1934, the Runbeck brothers reopened the mill, converting the mill to electrical power in the 1930s.
In 1951, Kenneth and Edwin Johnson manage the mill, only for it to close four years later.
"The Runbeck family decided they did't want to do this anymore, so they gave it to the McPherson COunty FIsh and Game," Becky ANderson said. "All the McpHerson COunty Fish and Game cared about was that they were going to be able to fish on the river. They were supposed to take care of the property and mill, and that was a lot of work."
Accourding to Anderson, Carl Oakleaf was a member fo of the McPherson County Fish and Game, and served as a McPherson County Commissioner at the time. Oakleaf suggested the county take ownership of the property, and in 1962 the mill was given to McPherson County.
"Some folks in Lindsborg thought they oought to clean the place up," Anderson said. "There were a few Bethany College faculty members, Malcom Esping and other peopl in town that had Skills."
THe group ended up connecting with a miller from Quaker Oats named George Tesarek, according to Anderson.
"He came down here and he saw this mill and said, 'Wow, this is really cool. I will help you figure out how to do this," Anderson said.
According to Anderson, the milling department at Kansas State University got involved and a film was made, "Mill of Memories," documenting how the saving of the Smoky Valley Roller Mill happened.
D According to Anderson, the Smoky Valley Historical Association board members wrote grants at the time, and accepted donations from community members that were interested in fixing up the mill. The funding from the
See MUSEUM pg 6.
historical association built museum.
Then, Anderson said, Bethany College decided they didn't want the Swedish Pavilion on the campus anymore.
"So they started looking for other buildings around the couty or in the community and moved them to that space," Anderson. "Over time, the property had various directors, but the historical association was a part of it. Then, little be by little, they became no longer involved."
Anderson believes the museum lost community connection as the prperty became more a line item in the county budget and less of a community project.
A CHANGE FOR REVITALIZATION
The county has been say for many years, we don't want this anymore," Anderson said. "It only took about 10 years to come to this.:
Ownership of the McPherson COunty Old Mill Museum in Lindsborg is slated to be transferred on Sunday, Aug. 1 to the Lindsborg Old Mill and Swedish Heritage Museum, Inc.
"I'm extremely excited," Anderson said. "It's taken a long time to get to this place. The opportunites for us are immense. It is a community building; it is another attraction for Lindesborg and the othther part I think is extremely important, Lindsborg doesn't have a museum, we now have a place to share our histoy."
According to Anderson, the last 10 years have been spent discovering the gem that is the SMoky Valley ROller Mill and Old Mill Museum. That discovering started when she reached out to a man named Steve Elliott.
"I was talking with a friend and they knew this guy," Anderson said. Elliott's credentiala included leading the New York State Historical Association and 28 years with the Colonial Willaimsburg Foundation. He has also served on numerous museum, histoyr, education and civic boards and chaired the AMerican Assoicaion of State and Local History from 2010-12. Most recently, Elliott serverd as the director and CEO of the Minnesota Historical Society, retiring in 2018.
"He had just retired, and I got his number and called him," Anderson said. "I asked, if I sent him some information, would he thinkg about this.
Anderson then asked the City of Lindsborg and the Mcpherson County COmmissioners if each entity would pay for half of the air fare and consulataton fee for Elliott to be involved with the museum and mill. Both agreed, and in May of 2019, Elliott visited Lindsborg.
"I met him at the airport in Wichita," Anderson said. Quote the first place I took him was to Coronado heights. He said, I quote I can't believe I didn't know anything about this town quote quote
Over the next two days, Elliot met with over 90 people in various lindbergh groups comma including artists associations...., including artists associations, ad hoc and the historical association. He met with the mcpherson county commissioners and looked at the mill itself. He returned to minnesota, and wrote a report, presenting the public report at the J period O period sundstrom conference at the J. O. Sundstrom Conference Center in June of 2019.
The report is located on the city of Lynchburg website.
quote i was struck by the Quote I was struck by the willingness, and other often enthusiasm, of the participants to talk about the museum and its future. No, quote Elliott wrote in the report.
There was an underlying There was an underlying quote there was an underlying desire to see the site thrive, but at times in an air of resignation that change would be difficult. Many participants, though though comma we're excited to be inv.... though, we're excited to be invited to approach this challenge as one of envisioning what the site should be and might become, with the understanding that a long term plan could be developed to work towards that vision, rather than tweaking the existing plant in program. Quote
The report include includes elliotts constructive criticism, as well as his reasoning for offering constructive criticism. Elliott Elliott recognized the community sweat that went in to keeping the mill working, and acknowledged the significant county record records housed an an organized in the basement of the museum.
Elliott also validated the value of the Swedish pavilion and heritage center, but said that neither have that neither have withstood the test of time, and another generational investment is needed to render the site appealing to today's audiences and to leverage the lindbergh brand. new paragraph the 13
The 13 page document gives a critique and casts a vision of what the property is and has the potential for. new paragraph quote he said the paradigm you have down
Quote he said the paradigm you have down there is 50 years old and museums don't do this anymore, quote Anderson said
Quote you need to bring this you need to bring this up to date. What is happening in museums today, people don't want to go and see a museum with stuff on a shelf period they want . They want to know, what is the story? Quote new paragraph according to anderson ....
According to Anderson the lindbergh old mill and Swedish heritage museum incorporated will start to look at the 15 acres that comprise the property, and figure out a way to get lindberg folks engaged again.
quote there's great opportunities he Quote there's great opportunities here, so that's what this committee committee is going to do, quote Anderson said. Quote it is not owned by the city it is owned by this new entity. There are some good people on the committee to get us off to get us off the ground.
Lindbergh old museum and Swedish heritage museum incorporated period initial board members include . Initial board members include kirsten bruce, britt COLLE, anna holquist HULTQUIST ericsson and jim towels TO E W S period chairing the Ericsson and Jim towels Toews. Chairing the committee is less spurling SPERLING.
quote the old male museum and all of Quote the old male museum and all of the area out there has always been a very special place for me, even when I lived in McPherson, quote Sperling said. quote when the opportunity came up that i could be a part of Quote when the opportunity came up that I could be a part of growing that area, and ensuring the cultural history of the smoky valley continues to be val.... the smoky valley continues to be valued, that motivated me to get off the farm. Quote
Spurling, who has lived in lindbergh for over 35 years, chairs the board with over 35 years starting and managing non for profit businesses. not-for-profit businesses.
Quote the main focus of a not-for-profit business is the mission and the purpose, quote Sperling said quote they really fulfill a community need, and is not is not interested in share holder profits, but community profits. Quote
The lindbergh old mill and Swedish heritage museum incorporated has met 4 or five times incorporated has met four or five times according to spurling, preparing for the transition of the property. He said there are four or five major components in those early meetings, including creating the knot for for profit and completing paperwork and securing adequate funding to continue operations.
What I do know quote what i do know comma we will c quote what I do know, we will continue to have funding through the physical year fiscal year, and some funding for next year, quote sperling said. We quote we feel confident that we will continue to have financing comma with fundraising and financing, with fundraising and writing grants, and establish a good operation without interruption period quote ne.... without interruption. Quote
The future of the lindbergh old mill and Swedish heritage museum incorporated, involves expanding the board and strategic planning with the public. quote in early fall comma we want to.... Quote in early fall, we want to complete the transition, get everything up and running for the new company and coordinate the recruitment of board members with the strategic planning process, quote Sperling said period according new paragraph accor..... According to
According to spurling, the current board members have begun to seek a facilitator that can put together a plan with a mission and vision that everyone can support period new paragraph comma we want t.....
, we want to select someone who has a museum background and a community background, and knows the emerging trends for that segment, quote spurling said
We want to certainly have a process that includes a great deal of community input. we will make every effort for (the strategic planning process) to be inclusive. I elieve there are a number of people who have interst in the museum, the roller mill and the Swedish Pavilion."
The board intends to continue museum operation and recognizes the value of. the 2 buildings on site listed in th.... The two buildings on site listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Smokey Valley Roller Mill and the 1904 Swedish Pavilion, built for exhibit exhibit at the 1904 World's Fair in Saint Louis. comma missouri period new paragraph quote we were not , Missouri.
Quote, We were not going to shut the place down, quote, Spurling said. Our quote, Our goal is to continue operations. until we have that strategic plan and move forward and Until we have that strategic plan and move forward in a methodical way. I think it is important that people know, especially the people who have supported the museum and donated artifacts, that we are going to continue to operate that museum and improve it as well.
According to Sperling. The Lindbergh old mill. And Swedish Heritage Museum Incorporated Board. understand that the smoky valley reg.... Understand that the Smoky Valley region has always been committed to preserving their cultural heritage and wants to do their best to provide people with an opportunity to participate in that process.
Quote. There is a great opportunity for the community to take ownership. Of that area, quote, Sperling said. Quote. I think the possibilities are limitless. we really just need to have an open We really just need to have an open mind and create that energy to have a vision for what the future could look like. Quote.