By Kari Brady
The town of Paynesville has a great history resource in its backyard. The Paynesville Historical Museum is a place where the past is preserved and shared with our community and others.
The Paynesville Historical Society was established on Oct. 23, 1969. The Minnesota State Historical Society and the Paynesville Lions Club helped greatly to contribute to the Paynesville Historical Society organization.
The first officers of the historical society were: Bertha Zniewski, president; Arnold Kost, vice president; C.C. Tolman, secretary; and John McLaughlin, treasurer.
The current officers are Paul Bugbee, president; Connie Williams, secretary; Doris Dodds, treasurer; and Bertha Zniewski, curator.
The first Paynesville museum was located next to the city hall. On Sept. 26, 1971, the grand opening of the museum was held in the old Methodist Church. The building renovation costs were provided for by the generous donations from the people of Paynesville and its organizations.
The first floor of the museum contained exhibits such as: woodworking, Indian artifacts, children's toys, a blacksmith shop, Appelgren center, and a religious center.
On June 15, 1971, Dr. Myre donated the former John Baitinger home. The house was built during the 1880s and located behind the museum. It became the pioneer house to the museum with medical and dental exhibits. The Baitinger House was later sold.
In 1996, the Paynesville Historical Museum moved to its present location, 251 Ampe Drive along Highway 23 East.
The main building displays the first 100 years of Paynesville history. The second connecting building is presently under construction. It will offer displays of the third 50 years of Paynesville along with the communications exhibits. The third building that makes up the Paynesville museum is the old Brown Country school once located on the Rice Lake Road. The school house was built in 1892 and closed in 1967. The Brown School then moved to Paynesville in 1985.
Now, 30 years later, the Paynesville Historical Museum is still working to collect, preserve, and share history.
If anyone has questions about the museum, call Bertha Zniewski, 320-243-4433.