The Andrew Volstead House Museum had a great article in the last week's Advocate Tribune about the foundation repairs, stop by and watch the interesting restoration work. As a board member of the Granite Falls Historical Society as well as Chamber Director, I'm excited to see our National Historic Landmark get needed repairs so it can become the focus of heritage tourism in Granite Falls. As defined by The National Trust for Historic Preservation, “Cultural heritage tourism is traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes cultural, historic, and natural resources.” As chamber director, this is one of my goals for Granite Falls.
Restoring the entire interior to a house museum will be just as important as these repairs to the foundation. As a tour guide, it was frustrating to show the dining room and kitchen surrounded by office desks and school materials. The dining room and kitchen of the Volstead House are two of the more interesting rooms with its built in buffet and butler's pantry, all in original condition. The museum has the china from the Volstead's collection plus the cook stove from his Kenyon boyhood home, these items can now be shown in their proper context in the home.
Once the carpet is removed and floors refinished, furniture from that era will be placed in those rooms along with family items. Volstead's original furnishings remain a mystery, if anyone knows of furniture or other possessions which belonged to that family, please contact the historical society or chamber office at 320-564-4039.
Andrew Volstead was born on Halloween. For the past few years the Granite Falls Historical Society has decorated the porch and front yard and invited trick or treaters to visit. Plans are to do this again this year. The celebration of his birthday coinciding with a fun holiday will be expanded upon this year with a retail event that weekend.
This will be a great opportunity to celebrate history in a fun way as well as a retail opportunity during the holiday shopping season. Creating a heritage tourism destination around the story of one man or historical event isn't a new idea. Sauk Centre does it with Sinclair Lewis, US presidential hometowns do it, sites of battlefields and other historic events do it. We have a national story and important historic house in a great location right next to downtown! Prohibition Story plaques are in place in downtown locations with the corresponding Prohibition Story Walking Tour guides available at the chamber office. We have the Fagen Fighter's WWII Museum and the Yellow Medicine County Historical Society Museum as additional historic destinations. Creating a heritage tourism destination would bring business and visitors to Granite Falls!