By Kremena Spengler
NEW ULM - Several decades ago, the Lind House, once home to the 14th governor of Minnesota John Lind, had fallen into extreme disrepair.
Staff photo by Kremena Spengler
Trudy Beranek, executive director of the Lind House Association, talks about the Lind House in the library on Wednesday.
Two local women, Harriet Eckstein and Ginny Burnett, realized it was too important historically, architecturally and politically to be abandoned to fate.
In 1983, they recruited about 300 people to form the non-profit Lind House Association.
Tours of the house were offered to raise money; and they had bake sales, steak fries, ice cream socials and silent auctions.
If you go
What: "House-warming party" for the John Lind Family; fund raiser for Lind House
Where: Lind House, corner of Center and State Streets, New Ulm
When: 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday
Cost: $20, includes appetizers and one drink
After two years of fund raising, the Lind House Association bought the house from State Bank (now Frandsen Bank) for $45,000 and began a 10-year renovation project.
Many dedicated volunteers worked long hours stripping the walls of seven layers of wallpaper, stripping painted woodwork, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.
The Lind House is one of only three former Minnesota governors' homes open to the public. The other two are the Henry Sibley House Museum and the Alexander Ramsey House. The Lind House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
The house is in the Queen Anne style, which is characterized by turrets, wrap-around porches, bay windows and a variety of building materials.
The maintenance and upkeep of the beautifully functional landmark is a continuous, never-ending process, Beranek said Wednesday. The wood porch has had to be replaced at least twice; the grand staircase received some updates last fall. With an estimated 75,000 visitors attending events in the house since 1990, the restroom facilities are currently in need of renovation.
To help fund projects, the Lind House Association raises money in several ways: through memberships, rent, grants and fund-raisers. Three of the rooms on the second floor are rented out as offices to the United Way of Brown County. The house can be booked for social occasions, at a rate of $185 per event (association members pay a reduced fee of $135). Some 50-60 events take place every year, attended on average by 60-70 people, estimates Beranek.
A standard membership in the Lind House Association is $30; a membership in the 1887 Society is $125 and includes one free house rental a year Monday through Thursday; a membership in the Governor's Circle is $250 and includes two free house rentals a year Monday through Thursday.
Over the past seven years, funds have been raised through Cocktails with the Governor (or Cocktails at the Governor's), a reception that has been headlined by John Lind's great-grandson, bearing a striking resemblance to his famous ancestor; by most living former Minnesota governors; and by former members of the U.S. Congress.
To mark the 125th anniversary of the Lind family taking occupancy of the house (they moved in in 1888, after having the house built the previous year), the Lind House Association is changing the format for the Cocktails event this year. It is billed as a "housewarming party." The President of the Lind House Association Jay Tambornino will dress up as John Lind, another board member as Mrs. Lind, and various board members as historic characters from New Ulm.
The cost for the event, open to the public, is $20 and it includes a spread of appetizers in the dining room and a beverage (a full bar is available for purchase).
The event is 4:30 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 3. Tickets are available for sale at the Chamber of Commerce; by calling Beranek at 507-354-8802 or e-mailing her email@example.com or at the door.