Crow Wing County Board: Board agrees to renovate county museum, library

Commencement of the restoration of the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Research Library in Brainerd could begin as early as September and finish by December.

The exterior of the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum
The exterior of the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Research Library in Brainerd, as it appeared in January 2018. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch file photo
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch file photo

Commencement of the restoration of the Crow Wing County Historical Society Museum and Research Library in Brainerd could begin as early as September and finish by December.

The museum and library housed in the former Crow Wing County Jail and sheriff's residence is steeped in history, but the building has seen better days, so it was awarded a $224,557 grant in December from the Minnesota Historical Society for much-needed repairs.

"We went through the process of bidding on contractors," County Facilities Coordinator Rachel Breun told the county board of commissioners at its meeting Tuesday, July 10.

The county was selected to receive a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage grant for its "Preserving History: Crow Wing County Historical Museum and Research Library" project.

Conditions of the grant include "historic bricks shall be salvaged and reused whenever possible" and "repointing mortar must match the color, texture, strength, composition, joint width and joint profile of historic masonry" to ensure architectural and historical integrity of the property.


The renovation will restore and update the more than 100-year-old museum. The three-story building adjacent to the Crow Wing County Historic Courthouse is owned and maintained by the county.

Commissioner Rosemary Franzen made the motion at the meeting for the county to enter into a work agreement with Baratto Brothers Construction Inc. in Crosslake. Commissioner Doug Houge seconded the motion, and it was passed unanimously by the board.

The county board agreed to basically, as a financial donation or commitment to the historical society, allow the historical society to use the building at no charge.

The grant for the renovation project was financed in part with funds provided by the state of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society.

"We're to the point now where Baratto Brothers has been selected as the contractor to do the project. This document is just getting them under contract for it," Breun said.

Exterior work will include repairs to the roof, concrete and mortar repairs to the steps and brick, and fixing the drainage system. Windows will be replaced with double-hung windows to bring back the original look of the building.

Interior work will consist of updating building code compliance and Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, and renovating three bathrooms and an attic walkway. The largest part of work inside will be upgrading the existing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system.

Breun said of the written agreement between the county and Baratto Brothers: "Once this is under contract, they can get their subcontractors in place, and at this point, we're looking at starting probably beginning of September, and it will be done before year's end."


In January, the board approved a capital improvement budget amendment for a total project cost of $416,592 to make necessary structural repairs to the historical building per the specification designed by the architect; "substantial completion" of the work will be by Nov. 16.

The remaining cost will be matched from a Crow Wing County Capital Improvement Fund, which is funded by levy, county program aid, lease payments and tax-forfeited settlement dollars.

The museum and library is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was housed in the courthouse basement in 1933 before relocating to its current site at 320 Laurel St. in 1983.

In other business, the county board:

Approved the hiring of Meliene Fontaine-Laska, human resource director, and Christan Veith, sheriff's office correctional officer.

Approved the promotion of Jordan Larson, highway department senior staff engineer.

Accepted the departure of Amber Laffin and Allison Langenwalter, community services probation agents, and Susan Klooster, community services senior technical/administrative specialist.

Approved final payment for $2.65 million to RL Larson Excavating Inc. of St. Cloud for work that went over budget by $94,132.02, attributed to poor soil conditions for a half-mile of the project in Crosby.


Approved final payment for $110,876 to Kamco Inc. for crack-sealing maintenance for the county.

Approved out-of-state travel request by Community Services Director Kara Terry to attend the Casey Family Regional Meeting Aug. 16 in Atlanta with airfare, meals and lodging to be paid by Casey Family Programs.

Accepted donations from Crow Wing Power to the Crow Wing Mounted Patrol in the amount of $500 and from AARP to TRIAD State Conference in the amount of $1,000.

Approved the lawful gambling application for ​an exempt permit for the Crow Wing County Fair Association from July 31- Aug. 4 county fairgrounds, and for the Legionville School Safety Patrol Training Center Inc. from Sept. 6-8 and Sept. 14-15 at the Legionville School Safety Patrol Center, Unorganized Territory.

Supported the premises gambling permit application of the Northern Lakes Youth Hockey Association Inc. at Whitefish Golf Club.

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write mostly features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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