Museum hearing

Hearing today on bill that would fund relocation of museum to Burlington

Submitted Photo The site in Burlington where the historical society plans to relocate its pioneer village museum.

A bill has been introduced in the state Legislature that would provide $2 million, or as much as is needed, to the Ward County Historical Society to relocate its Pioneer Village museum off the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.

Ward County Historical Society President David Leite said in an email that historical society members plan to attend a hearing on Senate Bill 2146 at 9:45 a.m. today, Thursday, at the North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck.

Leite said the bill was introduced by Sen. Oley Larsen, R-Minot, and Sen. Merrill Piepkorn, D-Fargo, and Rep. Lisa Meier, R-Bismarck, and Rep. Karen Rohr, R-Mandan. It is attached to the appropriation for the State Historical Society budget, but is separate.

The local historical society plans to move the museum to the south side of Burlington on the U.S. 2 and 52 Bypass. Burlington, located eight miles west of Minot, is the former county seat. However, money is needed for the move.

The historical society lost a long-running legal battle last year over the pioneer village’s location on the fairgrounds. The State Fair had served an eviction notice on the historical society and the historical society claimed it had the right to keep the village on the fairgrounds under the terms of a 1966 agreement. A district court judge ruled largely in favor of the State Fair Association in August and the historical society decided against an appeal. Leite said the historical society wants to focus on a new beginning for the museum in Burlington.

File Photo The Ward County Historical Society museum is pictured in this file photo.

It plans to add a new visitors center in the new location. The visitors center would house a gift shop, accessible bathrooms, automotive museum, and other museum displays, Leite said in a written statement.

“We also hope to put up other buildings to house our antique farm machinery, a place to show old movies, hold plays and other events, and a soda fountain,” said board member Dan Caswell in the statement. “The new and much larger location affords the possibility for many changes that were not possible where we were before.”

The land in Burlington was donated by the DeSour Valley Economic Development Corp.

“We are going through the process of surveying the land and completing paperwork details needed for the final transfer of the property,” Leite said in the statement. “The EDC and the people of Burlington have been very supportive and are working hard to make this move possible. The site is located on the South side of H(ighway) 2 & 52 near the new Dollar General store. Now that we have a place to move to, the next hurdle is actually getting enough funds to complete the move. The buildings still have to be prepared, moved, put on foundations, utilities installed, a road built, and finally completing landscaping.”

The historical society had previously said it hopes to relocate 12 historically significant buildings to the new site in Burlington, at a cost of about $2 million.

Leite said many other donors have already come forward. An anonymous donor recently contributed $10,000. Max Zurcher, a longtime historical society member, volunteer and veterans advocate, has donated $1,000.

Many other residents and people with local contacts have been donating various amounts of money to the relocation through the Day of Giving, a Facebook fundraiser and the rummage sales that have been held at the Pioneer Village,” said Leite in the statement. “The Dakota Cruisers Car Club, Town and Country Credit Union, State Farm Insurance and ADM have all made recent donations.

“Besides cash, there have been numerous donations of time and equipment. Main & Holmes Electric have generously donated the use of two semi trailers for storing and transporting Museum items. The trailers were hauled in by Mark Zadaraka with his semi. A moving van was also loaned through the generosity of Ray Neshem. Many people have helped in the preparation and packing of antiques into these trailers with still more to go. In addition, David LeBrun of Souris River Designs is donating the use of heavy equipment for preparing the new Village site, and Clint Beeter, of Northern Auction Service, is helping move our farm equipment with the use of a flatbed truck. Caswell is donating the use of a large trailer as well as a forklift and Bobcat in our moving effort. According to Caswell, ‘The support of the community has been amazing. We sincerely thank those that have helped so far with their generosity.’

The family of Stanley and Arlene Saugstad donated 12 acres of commercial property located east of Minot, adjacent to Highway 52, according to Leite. The site is not appropriate for the relocation of the Pioneer Village, but the sale of the land will still help the museum become established in Burlington.

The Saugstads’ son, Craig, told the society that his parents would want to support the cause. The Saugstads were active members of the Ward County Historical Society board and were officers of the historical society. They were also supporters of other beneficial causes in the Minot area.

Stanley Saugstad’s grandparents, Nels and Karen, settled east of Minot in 1902. Stanley Saugstad was an educator, an appraiser, and served seven terms on the North Dakota House of Representatives, including as Speaker of the House. Arlene Saugstad began her career as an educator and was at one time the editor of the Ward County Independent newspaper. She later wrote a monthly column for the Minot Daily News about the local art scene. She was active in the Minot community throughout her 101 years.

“The Historical Society is grateful to the family, and are honored to carry on the family’s legacy,: said Leite in the statement.

The Society is looking for individuals and businesses with donations of money, time and equipment. More information can be found on the historical society’s website at, 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.

Leite also said more information will be forthcoming at a later date about the final agreement between the historical society and the State Fair Association for the relocation of the museum.