Presidents Message

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Dear Members,


I am writing today to provide an important update regarding our participation in the Heritage Partnership Grant – a nine month-long exploration to identify ways to partner with five historical societies around Lake Minnetonka.


Potential Partners

The Minnetonka Historical Society was originally invited to join the partnership grant application process by the Wayzata Historical Society in late 2019.  In addition to Wayzata and Minnetonka Historical Societies, potential partners included Excelsior & Lake Minnetonka Historical Society; Deephaven Historical Society; Westonka Historical Society; and, the Museum of Lake Minnetonka (Steamboat Minnehaha).



The Heritage Grant project was generously funded by the Minnesota Historical Society to consider an array of partnership options.  The options the group set out to consider included everything from simple collaboration to formal consolidation/merger and every option in between.  The impetus of the project was to provide sustainability of history-focused organizations in the coming years.  A few key considerations included shared challenges such as volunteer fatigue, lack of new volunteers and new member recruitment.  


The Heritage Grant allowed the group of six organizations to hire a consultant, Arts Consulting Group (ACG), to research and develop partnership models with participating organizations.  ACG brought a wide range of experience in nonprofit partnership models along with a depth of knowledge about data collection and analysis to the discussion.


The Process

The project was undertaken in four phases beginning in December 2019 to the present day.  Phase one included the creation of a comprehensive profile of each of the six potential partner organizations. Phase two focused on collecting member and community feedback about the possibility of collaboration to consolidation. In this phase, the grant partners conducted membership-wide surveys, individual key stakeholder interviews, community Town Halls and a benchmarking survey of similar partnerships.  Phase three work turned toward understanding how the research and information-gathering results translated into potential financial and operational partnership models.  Phase four was dedicated to the organizations considering each model and making a choice about future participation.



After hearing from our members and a long, deliberative process with potential partners, the Minnetonka Historical Society board decided that the Minnetonka Historical Society will remain an independent 501c3 organization with a keen interest in future collaborative efforts with other history societies for the purpose of advancing historic preservation and community education.  We have already begun to collaborate by co-sponsoring and participating with other societies in an education event – the history “Pastport Program” to draw visitors to local sites during Lake Minnetonka History Month in July.  Also, we have had several guest speakers from other societies during our fall “History Matters” education series and, recently met with the Hopkins Historical Society to share information and begin discussions on possible collaboration. 


While we have decided to remain an independent organization, we are excited about future collaborations to ensure vibrant preservation efforts and educational offerings in our communities.  We thank you for your continued support of the Minnetonka Historical Society, your feedback during our exploration of partnership ideas and, of course, welcome questions, comments and ideas from our members. 




 Jan Cook

President of the Minnetonka Historical Society

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Page 2

MHS Receives Research and Writing Grant from MNHS

We at MHS have been approved for a Minnesota Historical Society Grant for Research and Writing. Last Wednesday Oct 6th. we had a great turnout of about 40 people to my presentation about Dana Frear's life and his struggles to publish his manuscript, including illustrated excerpts. It was entitled:
"Minnetonka’s Rich History as Written by its First Historian, Dana Frear"
And I really appreciate the nice introduction that Lisa gave me. She says we apparently made about $100 !
We had lots of good comments and questions during the presentation, and they seemed pleased when I announced our acceptence of the proposal from Curt Brown, the history writer for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune who has written over 350 MN History articles for the Sunday Newspaper's Obituary page, and 6 books about MN History.

*This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society. (See logo below)

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                         Mystery Photo

Do you know that Minnetonka's Groveland Cemetery holds the first soldier who died in battle to be buried in Hennepin County? Who was he and at what battle was he wounded. (Answers on the last page.) 



Lisa's Pastport article

Greetings Members and Friends,


                                       FALL UPDATE OF COLLECTIONS GRANT TO BE WRITTEN

Here is the short CollectiveAccess update for the newsletter. (Note - we got a good response from the email and Facebook post call for volunteers, so I do not want to put a call for volunteers in this newsletter. I noted something about that at the end of my article. Thanks!):


CollectiveAccess Update


Last fall, the Minnetonka Historical Society was awarded a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant of $9,325 to transition to a new collections database, CollectiveAccess. Project work started in January, and we are now nearing the end of it. All of the data from our previous database has been successfully transferred to the new database, and we have started cataloging items in our collection in the new database. MHS board members and volunteers will take part in a half-day training in November so we can learn all the ins and outs of our new system. 


We are excited about all of the ways this new database will benefit our community. It will enable us to organize and digitize our collection, and thus make better use of it when answering your research questions, developing programs and presentations, and sharing the rich history of Minnetonka! The new database has also made it possible for us to share our collection on Just click on "Minnetonka Historical Society" and you can see some of the wonderful and interesting items in our collection! We will be continually adding to it, so check back often! (And while you are there, you can also check out the many other participating historical societies. is a wealth of local history!) 


We are not actively seeking collections volunteers at this time, thanks to the great response from our recent call for volunteers. However, opportunities may arise in the future for ongoing collections volunteer work or single day "catalog-a-thons," so keep an eye on our website and Facebook page if you are interested!

*This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

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Halloween Spooktacular


 Adults with Disabilities-Project SOAR / Let's Have Fun -

 Project SOAR Fall 2021


Costumes on with a mask to match its time to celebrate Halloween!  Enter our Costume Contest, make a monstrous craft and dance the night away with our DJ Ray of Sunshine!

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  • Ages 12 and under recommended

  • Spooky scavenger hunt

  • Live performers

  • Crafts

  • Fire department inflatable slide

  • Fire pits

  • Burwell House tours

  • Food vendors


Mystery Photo answer

Captain Dudley P Chase of the 2nd US Sharpshooters was wounded at the Battle of Antietam and then went back to fight at the Battle of Chancellorsville where he was mortally wounded in the arm and died a week later in Washington DC. His death left 6 orphan children back in Minneapolis in 1863, one of whom was Clara Chase Frear, the mother of Dana Frear who wrote the long manuscript about the history of Minnetonka that we hope to get published finally in the next year or so. He received a new, legible gravestone in 2014.


Minnetonka Historical Society Board

Jan Cook - President -
Lisa Fowler - Vice President -
Jim Whisler - Treasurer -
Stephanie Herrick - Secretary -
Bill Jepson - Millwheel, Website -
Rick Kruger - Social Media -
Ian Baxter - Technology -
Wendy Houldsworth - Museum, Antiques Appraisal

MHS CALENDAR Spring Summer 2021

Deadline to complete the Lake Minnetonka / Arts Consulting Group survey - April 8

Town Hall Meeting Saturday, April 17 - 10 am to noon

Town Hall Meeting Monday, April 19 - 6 pm to 8 pm

Historic Burwell House Tours: Still cancelled
until further notice due to the pandemic.

1. - Spooktacular 2019
The first annual Spooktacular was held at the Historic Burwell House in Minnetonka on October 29th 2019. 
It was a huge success with 1200 people attending; lots of children in costumes playing games, making arts and crafts, 
touring the house, and roasting marshmallows. Of course it had to be cancelled this year because of the pandemic. 
But perhaps if everything goes well it will be able to be held again next October?
Click here for a gallery of photographs of this fun event!


Spooktacular Gallery 2019

Spooktacular video 2019