Preserving local history: Clarks Grove Area Heritage Museum announces summer opportunities, open house

May 7—By Ayanna Eckblad

The Clarks Grove Area Heritage Museum will host an open house Saturday to help the community familiarize themselves with resources the museum has to offer.

The event will be from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the museum building at 103 N. Independence Ave. This will take the place of their regular monthly Thursday meeting.

"We're trying to get the news out there," said Clarks Grove Area Heritage Society secretary and treasurer Kathy Jensen. She is also the Clarks Grove city clerk and explained that many people do not realize that the city has a museum.

"They come to see their roots, and then they find out there's a museum here," she said. A new sign was recently added to the south side of the building.

Jensen said one goal for this new sign is to draw more attention to the museum from people who did not know of its existence.

According to Jensen, the museum began in 1994 with a few local citizens who wanted a way to preserve the town's past.

"We always wanted a museum, but we could never afford one," she said.

The Clarks Grove Heritage Society was able to build a brick and mortar building through fundraisers and financial help from the city about eight years ago. They moved into the new building in 2015.

Since then, the Clarks Grove Area Heritage Society has focused on collecting donated items and displaying them for visitors to see. Jensen said that one of the main components of preserving items at the museum is maintaining a low level of humidity and an even temperature in the building in order to prevent moisture damage. She said that the building has served the museum's needs very well in that regard. It has also been an excellent place to display the museum's inventory for visitors to see. Some of these items include old photographs, books, antique telephones, kitchen supplies and other equipment. The museum also displays a photograph of John Mead Clark, the man after whom the city is named.

"We've had people from all over," Jensen said. Although visitors are mainly from the southern Minnesota and northern Iowa area, the museum has had visitors from all over the United States and even from South Korea.

One thing that Jensen said she wishes the town had is an increased number of young people who are interested in the history of the town. She said she hopes the open house will be a good introduction to area youth who are interested in things like genealogy and learning about times gone by.

The Clarks Grove Area Heritage Society typically holds meetings on the second Thursdays of the month from April to October. For these meetings they try to bring in people from the area who have interesting skills. Meeting attendees also enjoy refreshments. Last summer they had music in the park as well as a demonstration of a machine that knits stockings.

The Clarks Grove Heritage Museum accepts donations and also has a membership program that receives newsletters.

Currently museum members are deciding what the building's summer hours will be. Those interested in seeing the museum outside of Saturday's open house may contact Jensen at 507-256-4329 or museum volunteer Everett Jensen at 507-383-1158.