Jamestown fortunate to have museum
Whether you've been there dozens of times or never once, getting a beautiful work of architecture such as the Stutsman County Memorial Museum set up to accommodate wheelchairs makes good business and common sense. Thus, as the old saying goes, ev...
Whether you've been there dozens of times or never once, getting a beautiful work of architecture such as the Stutsman County Memorial Museum set up to accommodate wheelchairs makes good business and common sense. Thus, as the old saying goes, everyone gets the brass ring with this deal.
The museum, which was built by the George Lutz family, holds artifacts from this area and provides research data unavailable in most libraries or other sites where only the written recordings of a location might be found.
Everyone knows a great book gives the reader new visions into the genius of its writer. So too, does the occasional private or public historic reserve where large items can be housed for general viewing.
Nearly every small to large city has sites where local history is kept neatly documented and stored so researchers of coming generations can do personal research. Some towns have rooms or additions (sometimes just a tin building under lock and key) where the historic group of that town keeps its own artifacts.
Unless there are historic preservationists who make a stink when some old structure is about to get the axe, it's highly likely that the history of an entire group of people will be lost forever.
Oral history is only as good as the tellers if they are true to the stories told to them. That's a good source, but should not be the only source (unless artifacts are not available).
Fortunate for Jamestown and this area of North Dakota, the Lutz mansion still stands and inside its walls are historic works that were part of the original structure as well as items brought in by area residents who've donated or loaned their treasures to be housed there for everyone to see.
Each of the historic buildings located downtown in the Renaissance area has its own story to tell. If those collective histories are housed in one place where visitors can stop in to do their own research, visitors can learn about the people who founded the town, led it through rough times and who might still be able to tell about some event they are researching.
For newcomers to Jamestown, that's very important.
Anyone who has bought a home here that was among the centennial homes or built soon thereafter probably has an interest in finding out about his or her own place. It's unlikely original owners or neighbors are even still alive so you can ask. When the Antique Attic was still in town there were local collectors who were present on occasion so you could ask questions about some things. But when it closed, a vital resource vanished.
Thank goodness that's not the case with the Lutz mansion. Jackie Hyra, in her story about the mansion in the July 6 edition of The Jamestown Sun, quoted Leah Mitchell, the museum's director, describing her favorite piece of work in the building: "A cork and bark picture just inside the front door ... it's reminiscent of the border in the dining room ... the Black Forest area (of Germany)."
Anyone not able to enter the building would never see what she was talking about. With the new lifts coming, a visitor unable to leave a wheelchair would have to see a video of everything because he would not be able to go in.
With the new people lifts (that will function similar to an elevator), people who are in wheelchairs or unable to scale the many steps that take you through the mansion, will be able to go in and actually see for themselves.
Among the many items of interest are small models of former buildings made by Miles Jenswold. He built a miniature railway station and a two-storied gazebo that once stood downtown where the Civic Center stands and near Schuberts, respectively.
There are items from settlers in the area and artifacts from Native Americans who were here prior to settlers arriving. The museum gives a relatively balanced picture of what life was like back in the early years of Jamestown.
For the pure artists out there, who want to learn about fine crafts and lovely art pieces, plan to extend your visit to allow you to make notes on living and dining room furniture, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, bedroom furniture, lamps and lighting, clothing and the wonderful utility pieces used daily in making meals, cutting hair, sewing and tending animals.
There are also photographs that alone are worth the time to stop and visit. If you own an older home here in town, it's likely your place is among the many included in early photographs of the city and county.
Admission is by donation and the building is open weekdays through September.
If anyone has art-related activities to include in this column, write: "Art Voices," c/o Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.