Wells Museum expanding
The Wells Historical Society, after successfully restoring Wells’ Depot Museum, is hoping to expand their museum by restoring the 117-year-old Lunchroom, just east of the Depot Museum.
This last month, the Wells Historical Society was the recipient of a $10,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund to hire an architectural consultant to help repurpose the historic building.
Built in 1903 by private owners, the same year as the depot, this little spot once served rail travelers as well as the local residents. Later on, in the 1950’s it was owned by Wells resident Edith Sauke. It was then a private home for a number of years until it changed hands again and became a pet grooming business before the Wells Historical Society purchased it.
The society already saved the depot from demolition in 2005 and turned it into a quaint little history museum that highlighted the importance of the railroad which ignited the growth of the city of Wells. Now, the Wells Historical Society wants to save the Lunchroom and use it for additional museum displays and storage.
A Conditional Assessment Report, or CAR, of the building has been completed and given the OK to move into its design phase. The report?is a requirement for the Wells Historical Society in order to apply to the Minnesota Historical Society for a Small Cities Legacy Grant.
“We were very fortunate to have great support from the community, and from the Wells Economic Development Authority,” shares Wells Historical Society president Carmen Meyer. “We are truly grateful for everything our community has done to back up the efforts we have made at the Depot and the efforts they continue to make as we take on the project of redesigning the Lunchroom.”
As the redesign is in progress currently, Meyer says their restoration architect is hoping to begin restoration in the middle of 2020. The Wells Historical Society president says she is unsure whether or not the Lunchroom would be open by the end of this year, but every day, the group gets closer and closer to their goal.
The grant will help ensure the restoration complies with the National Register of Historic Places requirements.
Though the Lunchroom may not be turning into an actual eatery again any time soon, it will still house the ever-growing collection of historical items and display pieces the Wells Historical Society has gathered since its reignition in 2004.
“Our collection has increased dramatically,” says Meyer. “We are eager to use the Lunchroom as extra space to house our collection and to potentially host special events in the future.”
“We are very excited that this project is moving forward and we are looking ahead to complete the design phase,” says Wells Depot Museum director, Betsy Hermanson. “And eventually to the actual restoration of this lunchroom building that is so important to the community of Wells.”