From left, Spring Valley Historical Society director Julie Mlinar and society board members Linda Rentschler and Don Rose stand on the front steps of the Methodist Church Museum on Courtland Street. The society has been chosen as a recipient of a grant to use to re-roof the museum. (Tribune photo by Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy)
From left, Spring Valley Historical Society director Julie Mlinar and society board members Linda Rentschler and Don Rose stand on the front steps of the Methodist Church Museum on Courtland Street. The society has been chosen as a recipient of a grant to use to re-roof the museum. (Tribune photo by Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy)

Spring Valley Historical Society director Julie Mlinar is ecstatic that the society has been chosen as a grant recipient so that the long-awaited roof repairs can be done on the historic Methodist Church Museum on Courtland Street.

The grant the society will be receiving for the roof replacement is for $58,800 from the Minnesota Historical Society, through the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Program. Mlinar noted, "Along with some donations that had come in earlier, this will complete the money needed to replace the roof of the Methodist Church Museum as long as prices of supplies have not skyrocketed."

She explained how the funds became available to the society, which tends to the maintenance of the church building, which was constructed over a century ago with contributions from its parishioners, including the Wilder family into which author Laura Ingalls Wilder married.

Mlinar said, "The grant process began last fall, and the committee met in December to recommend the funding. With the help of extensive information from TD Fetterly Building Co., we were able to acquire the grant."

She shared that the roof and materials had to meet strict historically accurate specifications to replicate the original wood shingles, and a certain metal for all metal used in finishing the project also is needed.

"Hopefully, we will be able to start in April or May. This hinges on when we receive the grant agreement and order supplies. The roof has shown wear for a few years now and developed a few holes that we repaired last fall. The purpose of doing it now is to prevent damage that could occur if we wait a year or two," she said.

The director is pleased to be able to make the repairs before that further damage does occur. "The money was available now, so it worked out well. We were very blessed to have been chosen, as there was a huge number of applications for the funding. Though it's a huge relief to have raised the money needed, we can hardly sit back and relax. There's always more to do and never enough money to do it all."

Additional funding for museum maintenance has come from local foundations and trust funds. Mlinar added, "We also received at the end of last year a grant from the Arlin Falck Foundation for $ 6,450 for some brick and sill replacement that will also be done this spring. The Osterud Winter Trust Fund has also given money toward these projects."

The historical society's fundraising continues even though the society is a grant recipient, and Mlinar plans to do that fundraising through community outreach and involvement.

"We will continue to raise funds for the everyday running of the museums through our ice cream social in June and the Christmas tours and teas in December." Mlinar noted that conducting upkeep on the building is a constant because of its age -124 years.

"The museum is not the only asset the town of Spring Valley has, but it definitely is one that is in the forefront with tourists and those passing through and also a special place for those who have grown up here or have relatives who lived in the community.

Mlinar concluded, "It's our job to keep the museums and history of this area alive for many generations to learn about and enjoy."

The Methodist Church Museum and the Washburn-Zittleman House Museum are open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For more information on upcoming events or to volunteer, call 507-346-7659 or e-mail Mlinar at wilder inspringvalley@hotmail.com.