Museum has to go by June 15

State Fair agreed to pay $50,000 to historical society if museum is removed in time

Andrea Johnson/MDN The Immanuel Lutheran Church and the Sundre Log Cabin, next to it, are pictured at the Ward County Historical Society’s Pioneer Village Museum. The steeple on the church must be detached before the church can be relocated to a site in Burlington. The log cabin, which was one of the original houses built in Ward County, must be lifted by a crane to be moved to Burlington.

The Ward County Historical Society must remove its Pioneer Village Museum from the fairgrounds to its new location in Burlington by June 15 under an agreement with the North Dakota State Fair Association, historical society board members said Tuesday.

Under the terms of the agreement, the State Fair will give the association a cash settlement of $50,000 if the buildings are removed by that date. If the buildings are still there past June 15, the historical society would be in violation of the contract and would receive no assistance from the State Fair.

The historical society lost a long-running legal battle against the State Fair Association to keep the museum on the fairgrounds and has decided against an appeal.

The DeSour Valley Economic Development Corp. has donated land valued at about $1.5 million, located on the south side of U.S. 2 and 52 near the new Dollar General store in Burlington, to the historical society as the new site of the Pioneer Village.

“It’s a great site,” said historical society president David Leite.

Andrea Johnson/MDN Travel trailers have been packed with museum artifacts in preparation for the move of the Ward County Historical Society’s Pioneer Village to a new location in Burlington.

Leite said the first of the smaller buildings could be moved by March. Museum artifacts and other items have been packed into travel trailers. The use of the travel trailers was donated to the museum. Dan Caswell, a board member, said about 90 percent of the items are packed and ready to be moved. Under the terms of the settlement with the State Fair Association, the State Fair will pay for the cost of removal and reinstallation of fencing or barriers on the current site so the historical society can remove its buildings.

Relocating some of the somewhat fragile historic buildings could prove to be a challenge. An addition will have to be removed from the iconic Samuelson house before it can be moved, and the steeple on the Immanuel Lutheran Church on the grounds will also have to be detached before the building can be moved. The Sundre Log Cabin, one of the original homes built in Ward County, is also fragile. It will have to be lifted with a crane to be moved. Also a challenge is the train depot on the grounds.

Board members noted that the original Imperial Ward County Courthouse is to be relocated to the original county seat in Burlington, its former home, as will pieces from the original postoffice.

“We’re taking a lot of history back to Burlington,” said board member Sandra Sys.

The new site in Burlington has a lot of potential for its planned expansion. The board members said the site once had a brick plant and a coal mine. The museum has donated coal mining artifacts. The historical society also hopes to build a visitors center at the new site.

One building will not be saved. The original Butler building, a steel building where the museum has stored its old cars, sustained rust damage in the 2011 Souris River flood. The historical society does not plan to move the Butler building.

Historical society members board members Leite, Sys, Caswell, Angie Hoover, and Sheldon Albertson said there is now a huge need for donations to help move the 12 significant buildings in the museum to Burlington as well as to pay for infrastructure and operating costs at the new site. For instance, a new road will have to be built to access the site at Burlington.

A bill has been introduced in the state Legislature that would provide $2 million to fund the move. Senate Bill 2146 would allocate $2 million, or however much of that sum is necessary, to the State Historical Society so it could award a grant to the Ward County Historical Society to relocate the museum. The bill, introduced by Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, Sen. Merrill Piepkorn, D-Fargo, Rep. Lisa Meier, R-Bismarck, and Rep. Karen Rohr, R-Mandan, was heard in committee, passed unanimously by committee members, and referred to appropriations.

If the bill is not approved, the historical society could find itself in trouble in its attempts to relocate the buildings.

In addition to the donated land in Burlington, the historical society has received other donations. The Saugstad family donated 12 acres of commercial property located east of Minot, adjacent to Highway 52, that can be sold to pay for some of the needs of the museum.

Board members said they are reaching out to area businesses to seek donations and are also applying for grants, though donations to the Roosevelt Park Zoo and to a children’s museum means that grant funding sources are limited at the moment.

A fundraiser, including a silent auction, is planned for April 12 at the Sleep Inn. Sleep Inn has agreed to donate the room.

An architectural firm in Fargo has also agreed to create a site plan for free.

The museum will also be working with business students from Minot State, who will help come up with a marketing plan and other assistance.

More information can be found on the historical society’s website at wardcountyhistoricalsociety.com, on Facebook @WardCountyHistoricalSociety, or by calling the historical society at 839-0785. Donations can be made through the “Pioneer Village Relocation Campaign” at Town and Country Credit Union, 615 South Broadway, Minot, ND 58701 or directly to the Ward County Historical Society at PO Box 994 Minot, N.D. 58702. Donations are tax deductible as the historical society is a 501(c) (3) Organization.


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