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W’bago museum sparks interest

By Staff | May 18, 2009

Scearcy and Boler

The new Winnebago Museum has a lot of rocks, and they were all on display last Tuesday during an open house.

The museum has a room devoted to archeological artifacts, and the staff was celebrating Minnesota Archeology Week by showing off the many displays they have.

Members of the Winnebago Museum Board of Directors have assembled a large amount of archeological items, including many Indian artifacts from the Winnebago area.

But that is not all they have in their new building on Winnebago’s Main Street, the former Meter Man facility.

There is a genealogy room where volunteers have assembled local history books and are busy archiving hundreds of obituaries. The death notices are scanned into a computer data base for future searching.

Plus, there is the large room where visitors first enter. It already has many items of Winnebago’s past, and more items will eventually be displayed as well.

One of the items hard to miss is a large piece of the floor from the Winnebago High School gym which contains the school’s Indian mascot.

The item drawing the most interest on Tuesday, however, was the large book of photos and news clippings from Winnebago’s past.

Two of the visitors who paged through the book were Ardys Scearcy and LaVerna Boler. They found something interesting on nearly every page.

“There is my father’s store,” Scearcy pointed out. “This is a picture of it after it burned.”

Her father, Dr. Einer Thoreson, owned a jewelry store and eye clinic on the corner where the Winnebago Chamber of Commerce office is now located. Scearcy says the bottom of the building was saved, but the top was removed due to fire damage.

The pair noted that the upstairs housed the telephone company at the time of the fire, and that Esther Wright, the telephone operator, was the last person to leave the building. She was too busy answering the phone to escape the fire until the last minute.

The building today looks a lot like it did before the fire.

“My father had a large clock in the big window to the right of the door,” Scearcy says. “That window is still there.”

Boler pointed to a picture of the Elms Hotel.

“My brother built that, and ran it,” she says. Boler says she has “only” lived in Winnebago for 66 years, having moved here after marrying a local boy.

She also saw a picture of the Colonial Inn, a large structure that was located where the parking lot of Crowntonka is now.

The two ladies also looked at a picture of the Florence Hotel, which burned down on Christmas Eve 1926.

“I remember going there for Sunday dinner,” Scearcy says, “although I guess I was only four years old when it burned down.”

She next noted a picture of her old Methodist Church. It also burned down.

“My, we have had a lot of fires in Winnebago, haven’t we,” she commented.

And thanks to the Winnebago Museum, all of the history of the town is on display, and can bring back memories to everyone who stops in and takes a look around.