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A comeback for Lake Park Area Historical Society


The Lake Park Area Historical Society came into existence during the late 1970s in preparation for Lake Park's Centennial celebration.

Since then, the board has dwindled and the two properties it manages weren't open this summer.

But now a core group of people is working to help the historical society regroup, reorganize and reopen.

Aaron Wittnebel, who worked at the historical society when he was in high school and is now serving as interim secretary, said this summer the historical museums didn't open and the board heard complaints.

"There are a lot of families that have donated not only money, but artifacts for display," he said. "When people are coming in for the summer, there are a lot of reunions happening during the summer, class reunions are happening during the summer ... That's a prime time for the museum to be open, so it was a shame it wasn't open."

It's been up to the board in the past to supervise those running the tours, grounds, etc., but with the age of board members, that era had ended.

"The past couple years, there hasn't been somebody young enough to be the supervisor for the summer youth that works there, so we haven't employed anybody," he said.

Originally, there was one museum site, the Lake Park Hotel, but it was torn down in the 1980s to build a retirement center. From there, the museum moved to the Julia Amdal house on First Street, which she had left to the historical society in her will.

Since then, a rural schoolhouse (District 9) was obtained and moved to town to serve as a piece of history for tours as well.

High school students would take care of the properties -- one doing maintenance and one giving tours and planning events. They were paid through Minnesota Rural CEP, and the interim board is hoping to provide that employment again.

The interim board is also looking for a college intern to work for a semester to gain experience and help out the historical society.

Wittnebel said that after a couple deaths on the board and a move to assisted living, the younger generations are trying to bring the board back.

"The younger members that have participated over the years are kind of coming together to serve as an interim board and restart some of the programming," he said.

Now, looking for new members, volunteers and participants, the Lake Park Area Historical Society will hold an organizational meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Lake Park City Center.

The interim board has determined four areas needing assistance -- photography archiving and preservation; programming for summer 2011; museum operations (artifact records, property, buildings and grounds); and special events.

"We are also looking for new members who would like to take on leadership roles, either sitting on the board or by chairing special committees," he said.

The Lake Park Area Historical Society incorporates Cormorant, Cuba, Atlanta, Audubon, Walworth townships, Rollag, Dale (a ghost town now) and Audubon history with Lake Park history.

"We're just looking for basically two hours a month to work on these committees," he said of the older members.