• Community Partners Help HCOC Fund Critical Repairs to Historic George Stoppel Barn

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    June 14, 2019

    The History Center of Olmsted County (HCOC) is pleased to receive funding from the Mechanical History Roundtable (MHRT) and the Carl and Verna Schmidt Foundation to help make critical repairs to the 1873 George Stoppel barn located just north of the History Center. The 50’ x 70’ structure looks out onto West Circle Drive, providing motorists with a glimpse of 19th century agriculture, an increasingly rare sight.

    The financial support will help pay to stabilize and restore the stone foundation and walls, especially at northeast corner where time and water are taking a toll. James Robinson, a mason and barn preservationist from Pepin, Wisconsin, will begin the work this summer. Though generous, the funding from the MHRT and the Schmidt Foundation won’t cover the total required for stabilization. Robinson estimated his work will cost $20,000.

    According to retiring executive director, Patricia Carlson, the work has been needed for some time but “this has been a particularly hard winter for all of our buildings, especially the barn.” The George Stoppel farmstead, including the barn, a stone house and outbuildings, were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. The History Center acquired the property and buildings in 1976.

    George Stoppel, a German immigrant, began farming wheat here in the 1850s but diversified into other crops, as well as raising chickens, hogs, sheep, and beef and dairy cattle. The barn reflects Stoppel’s growing and evolving agricultural operation and a reporter at the time observed that it was “one of the best and largest in the county.”

    “The George Stoppel farmstead, but especially the barn, embody Olmsted County’s roots as an agricultural settlement,” said Wayne Gannaway, the new executive director for the HCOC. “That’s why our partnership with the MHRT is so important to our mission—preserving that legacy of agriculture. Their support, as well as that of the Schmidt Foundation and other donors is so gratifying and essential.”

    “The Mechanical History Roundtable is excited to be partnering with the History Center of Olmsted County to preserve the George Stoppel Barn. The MHRT is donating money to assist in restoring the structure of the barn for future generations to enjoy. The George Stoppel Barn is an important structure to preserve for telling the story of Olmsted County,” said Ken Mueller, MHRT, President and History Center of Olmsted County volunteer. Each year the MHRT organizes “Days of Yesteryear,” a 2-day showcase of vintage machinery, demonstrations and food. This year it’s held on August 10-11.

    The Mechanical History Roundtable is a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to the 
    preservation of antique equipment and rural lifestyles in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Affiliated with and located on the grounds of the History Center of Olmsted County, the MHRT farm a few acres the old way, operate a sawmill, woodshop, tinsmith, and blacksmith shop, and maintain a collection of various mechanical devices and farm equipment.

    The History Center of Olmsted County campus consists of 54 acres in southwest Rochester that incorporates two historic farmsteads, historic buildings, and the History Center museum. The History Center museum houses the exhibit gallery, gift shop, the Willson Library, and the Wickland Archives.

    The History Center of Olmsted County also operates public tours and special events at the historic Mayowood Mansion. Mayowood was built in 1911 by Dr. Charles H. Mayo, who lived there until 1939. Now, this 38-room historic house is home to an extensive decorative arts collection, gorgeous gardens, and antique furnishings from the French, Spanish, German, and American cultures. Ownership of the Mayowood Mansion was transferred to Mayo Clinic in 2013. Mayo Clinic is currently performing renovations on the mansion and grounds, but the mansion is still open to the public on scheduled tour days.

    The History Center museum is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (closed on major holidays). Admission costs are as follows: adults (12 & up) - $5.00; children (2-12) - $2.00; children under 2 and Members – FREE!

    Mayowood Mansion tours for the 2019 season are March 20 - October 26 and operate weekly on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Admission is as follows: adults (12 & up) - $17.00; children (2 - 12) - $5.00; children under 2 – FREE! Purchase tickets at the Mayowood Mansion approximately 10-20 minutes prior to your selected tour time. Tours are conducted by an educated tour guide and last about 60 minutes. Christmas tours are offered every November and December. Group tours are available upon request.

    More information on the History Center or Mayowood Mansion can be found at www.olmstedhistory.com or by calling 507-282-9447.

    Wayne Gannaway, Executive Director
    (507) 282-9447