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A message from our new
Minnetonka Historical Society

President, Jan Cook


Hello to all MHS Members,


I hope this newsletter finds you and your families well and safe and looking forward to the holidays.

I would like thank Bill Jepson, for his 22 years on the board, including 12 years as president.  He helped bring MHS into the digital age, was instrumental in obtaining a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society, obtaining the tools to catalog our collection, and has spearheaded many other important MHS projects.  Fortunately, Bill will continue to serve as a board member, helping to preserve Minnetonka's past. 


Although we have had to cancel several events and fundraisers due to the pandemic, the Board is working on several projects that will increase our presence in the community and position our Society for long term sustainability. We intend to keep all of you informed, so look for frequent communications and announcements from me and other members of the Board. 

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of us listed below. 

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Minnetonka Historical Society.

Jan Cook, President MHS  

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Burwell House Wedding photos

Kathy Smith was married to Dave Carlson on July 10, 1976 on the Burwell House porch. Her parents, Bill and Dolores Smith bought the house from Louise Burwell in 1959 and lived in it with their six children until 1971.


Typically, MHS would hold an in-person annual meeting, however, given the pandemic, it was not possible.  Instead, we held the meeting virtually on September 8.  

During the meeting, our revised bylaws were approved by the attending members.  This project was very important to the Society, as the bylaws had not been changed in over 18 years, and were considered outdated.  

In addition, a new board and officers were elected, including: ​


Jan Cook, President  

  • Jan has been on the MHS Board since 2013 and previously served as Secretary. She also volunteers as a Burwell House tour guide, and enjoys traveling, gardening and spending time with her family and one-year old granddaughter. 

Lisa Fowler, Vice President

  • Lisa is a retired health care professional who joined the Board of Directors one year ago.  She has lived in Minnetonka for over 20 years and is a volunteer at the Burwell House.  She is also a history buff. 

Jim Whisler, Treasurer

  • Jim has been on the MHS Board since 2007. Jim is a retired Partner at Deloitte with a lifelong interest in history. He likes family time with his wife and 3 grown children, tennis, fishing and finding artifacts with a metal detector.

Stephanie Herrick, Secretary

  • Stephanie has been on the MHS Board since 2019. She is the Director of Collections and is currently working on a grant to upgrade MHS's collections database. She lives in Minnetonka with her husband and three-year old son.

Wendy Houldsworth, Board Member

  • Wendy has been on the MHS board 2018. She has always been interested in Colonial and Victorian history. Wendy has been collecting since age 20, and maintains an extensive antique and collectible collection. She also has a dog walking business, and enjoys volunteering at the Arboretum and at the Burwell House.  

Bill Jepson, Board Member

  • Bill has been on the MHS board since 1998, and has served as President since 2008. He currently serves as editor of the MHS website and newsletter. Bill is a retired history teacher at Eden Prairie and Hopkins High Schools, and enjoys spending time with his wife, three sons and two-year old grandson. 

Rick Kruger, Board Member

  • Rick is new to the board of the MHS having just joined in the spring of 2020.  He has a diverse set of interests from woodworking to photography to history.

Ian Baxter, Board Member​

  • Ian is our newest board member, and is a student at St. Olaf College, majoring in economics. Ian brings a wealth of technology knowledge, and will be helping to build our presence in Social Media.  

We also honored past board members: 

Barb and Phyllis Mattill

Florence Bogle

Lorena Hooyman

Dorothy Welch

Lorraine Kretchman

Petey Ellis

We thank them for their many years of service to MHS and the Minnetonka community!

Burwell House Wedding photos continued

With Kathy and Dave Carlson are the bridesmaid Sandy Smith, the best man Steve Shields, and the Episcopal Minister. We were delighted to receive these photographs from Kathy last summer as they are a precious record of the only wedding at the Burwell House. 

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Her father Bill Smith was a talented artist who painted this Holiday greeting card of the Burwell house in winter.

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Minnetonka Historical Society's 

Heritage Partnership Grant Participation

About one year ago, the Minnetonka Historical Society (MHS) was contacted by Aaron Person, board president of the  Wayzata Historical Society, to see if we would be interested in joining other Lake Minnetonka-area history societies in exploring opportunities to collaborate.

As a result, the MHS board of directors voted to participate in a Heritage Partnership Grant application with five other historical societies including 1) Deephaven Historical Society; 2) Excelsior Lake Minnetonka Historical Society; 3) Museum of Lake Minnetonka; 4) Wayzata Historical Society; and 5) Westonka Historical Society.

Fast forward to today, the six societies received a Heritage Partnership Grant from the Minnesota Historical Society to fund the engagement of a consultant to evaluate the range of alliance opportunities.  The role of the consultant will be to review and recommend options along the strategic alignment spectrum – from collaboration to shared services to consolidation.  Each organization will make an independent determination of how best to proceed.  

A central part of the consultant’s work will be to collect data and stakeholder opinions about increased collaboration. Given COVID, methods of gathering community feedback will be written, by phone and/or virtual meetings to ensure public safety.  The project will last about 8 months.

We will keep members apprised of our progress along the way. 

If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Fowler, MHS vice president at   

   MHS Calendar: Fall Winter 2020

In-person activities are postponed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 Pandemic this year.

Minnetonka Historical Society Board

Jan Cook - President -
Lisa Fowler - Vice President - l

Jim Whisler - Treasurer - 
Stephanie Herrick
- Secretary -

Bill Jepson - Millwheel, Website -

Rick Kruger - Social Media -

Ian Baxter - Technology -

Wendy Houldsworth - Museum, Antiques Appraisal 


New Bustle Dress will be on display at the Burwell House

This summer the Minnetonka Historical Society has assessed an exciting new acquisition from Pati Kortum who lives near the Burwell House. A beautiful 19th century Bustle Dress in very fine condition, it is blue and black with fine embroidery and has a pair of umbrellas to go along with it.  It has been in Pati's family for many years and we appreciate her generosity in donating it to the Society so that it will be on display in the Historic House for years to come.

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