These mannequins wearing historic clothing are standing next to the “Cadillac” of buggies, all of which will be on display in the new museum during the Houston County Fair.
These mannequins wearing historic clothing are standing next to the “Cadillac” of buggies, all of which will be on display in the new museum during the Houston County Fair.
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A pair of mannequins dressed in genuine 19th century finery stood beside an upscale buggy last week in the Houston County Historical Society's new museum complex, ready to greet fair-goers.

"This was the Cadillac of buggies," society member Roger Johnson said. "It had leather fenders, kerosene lamps and two benches."

Johnson is one of the volunteers who were busy preparing a slew of temporary displays for the Houston County Fair, which runs Aug. 14 to 18 in Caledonia.

Against the far wall, a special exhibit outlined the original survey of the county in the mid-1800s, courtesy of the Houston County Surveyor's Office, the Minnesota Society of Professional Surveyors (MSPS) and the Minnesota Historical Society.

Featuring actual historic markers and equipment, it will remain in the spacious main hall through December.

In a corner, a complete historic dental office is set up... not for the faint of heart. Nearby, an optometrist's office is envisioned. Nearer the entrance, a kid's corner is going up, complete with interactive displays.

A set of Native American artifacts adorns a case nearby, along with documentation and photographs. That exhibit is being prepared by members Paul and Joanne Wiste.

Janice Doering helped to set up (among other things) a fascinating array of irons. She is also the go-to person for signs and posters.

Other collections and souvenirs were tentatively tabbed for an adjoining glass case. The entry hall had several items on display, including a "made in Houston County" cabinet with a wide array of items, from soda pop to cameras and slide projectors, cigars and barrels, bats to butter and Cargill Flour.

Society president Shirley Johnson said that the new museum building will open at 12 noon on Thursday, Aug. 15. The facility will also be open on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to the main building, several other historic society structures will be open for fair attendees to enjoy. Those include the Mayville Town Hall (featuring a Civil War display) and new photographs in the Daley School and Presbyterian Church.

Permanent displays will likely take about another year and a half to complete, Johnson said.

That will include an extremely ambitious "timeline" of the county in the entry hall, encompassing natural and human history beginning with the last ice age.

When those are complete, the museum will hold a grand opening celebration.