Brainerd History Week: Community hugs building on its 100th birthday
The building once home to the Crow Wing County Sheriff and inmates in the county jail celebrated its 100th birthday Friday. As part of an open house, the building was rededicated and people stretched halfway around the exterior to give it a "birt...
The building once home to the Crow Wing County Sheriff and inmates in the county jail celebrated its 100th birthday Friday.
As part of an open house, the building was rededicated and people stretched halfway around the exterior to give it a "birthday hug." The event recognizing the anniversary was part of Brainerd History Week.
Erected in 1917, the building was home to five county sheriffs through 1962. The sheriff's wife traditionally cooked all the meals and completed all the laundry for the inmates. In 1983, the Crow Wing County Historical Society began using the building for its museum, which is now known as the Crow Wing County Historic Museum.
Inside, Bob Jenkins portrayed the first county sheriff to live in the home-Sheriff Claus A. Theorin. He explained to those in attendance his wife preferred to call the inmates residents, and was hesitant about cooking their meals until she learned the family's own food would be included in the county's budget.
Historical society executive director Pam Nelson and board chairman Don Samuelson stood on steps of the Historical Society building with county Commissioner Paul Thiede as part of a short program. Nelson noted the historical society enjoys a great relationship with Crow Wing County, which owns the building and leases it to the group for $1 each year.
Nelson said on the building's birthday, the group intended to pay its rent for another century.
"The people of Crow Wing County owe a big debt of gratitude," Samuelson said, for the preservation of the building by the county board and its continued use as a museum.
Thiede presented a large cardboard key to the jail in exchange for the $100 rent check before Brainerd History Week organizer Carl Faust and Nelson led the group to form a chain around the building. The group extended halfway-not quite as many as Faust hoped for, but enough to give it a good birthday squeeze.
The museum has three floors of exhibits, including displays on the lumber industry, the railroads and home life. Visitors can venture into their own histories using the museum's research library, look through hundreds of historical photocopies, maps and books. They may also page through newspapers going back to the late 1800s, including the Brainerd Dispatch dating back to 1881.