I am a sucker for old fashioned General Stores. I love the variety, the sense of community, the quirks, and the layouts. In Minnesota, we're blessed to have two General Stores preserved and operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. I blogged about the one at Forestville here at HHH last summer. You can read about this SE MN gem here: http://www.hhhistory.com/2017/07/minnesota-historical-sites-forestville.html
The other General Store Museum is located near the charming Germanic town New Ulm, in south-central Minnesota. While Forestville is depicted in the year 1899, The Harkin Store is depicted earlier, in the 1870s.
|The Harkin Store - Author's photo|
As with Forestville, the Harkin St
Before that time, however, the Harkin Store was the center of commercial and social aspects of West Newton. Riverboats docked nearby, bringing goods and people. The mail was delivered and sorted at the store. The owners, Alexander and Janet Harkin, prospered.
|Modern River Boat - Author's photo|
But while the railroad bypassed West Newton, the Rocky Mountain Locust did not. They came in swarms...and they stayed for four years. The store and the area around entered an economic depression from which the store and town never really recovered. Though the store limped along for years afterwards, it was eventually closed, sealed up with everything inside. For thirty-seven years, the contents remained untouched.
In 1977, the Minnesota Historical Society took over the site, restoring and renewing the building and contents. The Harkin Store is now operated by the MNHS through the Nicollette County Historical Society.
When you visit the Harkin Store, you can expect to see an authentic General Store, restored to its 1870's appearance, with authentic wares on the shelves. Knowledgeable guides will show you through the store, tell you the stories of the area, and grow your appreciation for this historical gem.
|Minnesota Historical Site Map|
While you're in the area, plan to visit Fort Ridgely a few miles to the northwest, and the Brown County Historical Society in New Ulm to the south.
Have you visited a restored General Store? Are there any in your state?
You can visit her online at www.ericavetsch.com and on Facebook at Erica Vetsch Author