Historic Fort Snelling Revitalization

Contact: 

Jessica Kohen, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lory Sutton, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Help create a new era for Historic Fort Snelling, where its many stories will be told in preserved historic buildings amid restored natural beauty.

Vertical Tabs

News Release Design Funding

Minnesota Historical Society Thanks Governor Dayton, Legislature for Funding

For immediate release

Release dated: 
May 26, 2017
Media contacts: 

Lory Sutton, 651-259-3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org or Jessica Kohen, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Minnesota Historical Society Thanks Governor Dayton, Legislature for Funding

Dollars support Historic Fort Snelling revitalization, asset preservation, operations and Legacy funds for history.

The state legislature has passed a Capital Budget or “bonding” bill that includes $4 million for design work, the next step toward construction in the revitalization of Historic Fort Snelling.

“This is a very strong signal of the governor’s and the legislature’s support for this critical investment in our state’s cultural heritage,” said D. Stephen Elliott, MNHS director and CEO. “This commitment will help us move the revitalization of Historic Fort Snelling forward, and we will advocate for the construction funding next year to complete the project in time for the fort's bicentennial in 2020.”  

MNHS is asking for $34 million in state support to complement an additional $12 million in privately raised funds for this ideally-timed opportunity to connect the fort and its stories in meaningful ways with 21st-century Minnesotans and Americans. If the remaining $30 million in support is appropriated in the next legislative session, MNHS will be on track to open the revitalized site in time for its 2020 bicentennial.

The funds are needed to replace an aging and failing visitor center by renovating one historic cavalry barrack and an 1880 ordnance building to create a new visitor center and field trip orientation space; improve wayfinding; create a park-like plaza for commemoration and reflection; and create new exhibits and other amenities inside the visitor center and programs throughout the grounds. Historic Fort Snelling is the state’s first National Historic Landmark.

The bonding bill also included funding for MNHS historic sites asset preservation. In addition, the legislature passed the State Government Finance bill which includes funding for the MNHS general operating budget, and digital preservation and access; and the Legacy Amendment Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund which supports statewide grants and programs for history. MNHS is thankful for the continued level of support from Governor Dayton and the legislature.

Other action at the legislature included a provision in the State Government Finance bill that calls for the Office of the Legislative Auditor to conduct a study of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) due by Jan. 1, 2018. The bill also calls for the transfer of SHPO to the Department of Administration, effective March 1, 2018. While MNHS believes having SHPO housed in MNHS benefits Minnesotans, we respect the decision to move SHPO to the Department of Administration and will continue to work closely with the department on the responsible management of our cultural heritage. MNHS also welcomes the opportunity to provide support to the Legislative Auditor on their study.

These bills have been passed by the legislature and will be presented to Governor Dayton for his signature.

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history. Visit us atwww.mnhs.org.

News Release Design and Programs

Design Work, Program Development Get Underway to Revitalize Historic Fort Snelling

For immediate release

Release dated: 
March 29, 2017
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lory Sutton, Marketing and Communications, 651-259-3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Design Work, Program Development Get Underway to Revitalize Historic Fort Snelling

Project remains on track for 2020 bicentennial while $34 million request goes before the state legislature.

The Minnesota Historical Society is moving forward to ensure that a revitalized Historic Fort Snelling is ready in time for its bicentennial in 2020.

MNHS is continuing to seek $34 million in state support for a much-needed revitalization and renovation of Historic Fort Snelling. Governor Dayton has included this request in his capital budget recommendations since 2015, and MNHS is grateful for his support. MNHS is continuing to build support in the legislature and will advocate for its inclusion in a 2017 bonding bill.

The revitalization project will create a new era for Historic Fort Snelling, where essential stories of thousands of years of history will be told in preserved historic buildings amid restored natural beauty.

“The need is critical,” says MNHS Director and CEO D. Stephen Elliott. “The current visitor center’s chronic, serious maintenance issues, coupled with the site’s confusing navigation, challenges our ability to present programs and serve the public. Historic Fort Snelling is the state’s first National Historic Landmark, home to Minnesota’s oldest structure and residence, and part of the state’s network of historic sites. While maintaining the state’s infrastructure is prudent, ensuring the care of Minnesota’s irreplaceable cultural heritage for future generations is a pressing priority—and getting Fort Snelling in shape for its 2020 bicentennial must be a 2017 funding imperative.”

In order to keep the project moving forward, MNHS is using non-state funds to hire Leo A Daly architects and Mortenson Construction to begin schematic design this summer.

MNHS is committed to developing Historic Fort Snelling’s programs in collaboration with community partners. This winter MNHS invited Dakota people from the MNHS Indian Advisory Committee, other educators and community leaders from the Twin Cities, and reservations outside of Minnesota to form a Dakota Community Council. The Council has met twice in 2017 and will continue to meet through 2020 and beyond. Additional collaborative initiatives are  underway with historians, Ojibwe people, African Americans, Japanese Americans and veterans groups.

These collaborations are part of a new interpretive approach that expands the diverse stories of the people who crossed paths here—from the Dakota, Ojibwe and enslaved people to immigrants, soldiers and fur traders.

Find out more about the project at www.mnhs.org/HFS2020 and join the discussion on social media at #HFS2020.

About Historic Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling is located near the MSP airport at the intersection of Hwys. 5 and 55 overlooking the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Originally a frontier outpost, the fort and surrounding buildings were later used for military training from the Civil War through World War II. Human history in the area dates back at least 10,000 years. Historic Fort Snelling is Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark and a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.  

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.        

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.

News Release Project Funding Request

Minnesota Historical Society Seeks State Investment to Revitalize Historic Fort Snelling

For immediate release

Release dated: 
March 22, 2016
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lory Sutton, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Minnesota Historical Society Seeks State Investment to Revitalize Historic Fort Snelling

$34 million legislative request would create new visitor center, preserve historic structures, make critical site improvements, and tell essential stories of American history told nowhere else

The Minnesota Historical Society is asking the state legislature to support a $34 million capital budget request to fund a much-needed revitalization and renovation of Historic Fort Snelling. The project will create a new era for Historic Fort Snelling, where many essential stories of American History will be told in preserved historic buildings amid restored natural beauty.

Why now? The current visitor center is inadequate. Its subterranean location creates serious, ongoing maintenance issues and is difficult for visitors to find and navigate. In addition, with the approaching bicentennial of the fort in 2020, this project provides the opportunity to expand the site’s many stories–stories of American history told nowhere else.

“This area, a sacred place known as Bdote to the Dakota, is a meaningful place of remembrance for many people,” says MNHS Director and CEO Steve Elliott. “We need to fully share the stories of American Indian people—stories that date back thousands of years—and of veterans and their families, of enslaved and free African Americans and Buffalo soldiers, and of Japanese American soldiers who served in military intelligence in World War II. By doing so, we know that more and more people from Minnesota–and across the globe–will find a connection to this unique place.”

MNHS is developing these stories with community partners and seeking input through public meetings and open houses.

This project revitalization will:

  • Renovate a historic cavalry barrack and ordnance building to create a new visitor center and orientation area
  • Demolish the current failing visitor center and landscape the vacated space
  • Improve the site’s wayfinding
  • Create a park-like plaza for reflection, commemoration and programming
  • Create new exhibits inside the visitor center and new programs experiences in concert with community partners

Find out more about the project at www.mnhs.org/HFS2020 and join the discussion at #HFS2020.

About Historic Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling is located near the MSP airport at the intersections of Hwys. 5 and 55 overlooking the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Originally a frontier outpost, the fort and surrounding buildings were later used for military training from the Civil War through World War II. The area dates back at least 10,000 years. Historic Fort Snelling is Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark and a member of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.  

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.        

The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.

Essential Stories

Historic Fort Snelling Essential Stories

For immediate release

Release dated: 
March 22, 2016
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lory Sutton, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Historic Fort Snelling Essential Stories

The revitalized Historic Fort Snelling will present a broader, more expansive interpretive focus that explores larger themes of our national historic narrative that are still relevant today: conflict and the struggle for power, human rights and the yearning for freedom. These essential stories include:

  • 10,000 years of history - The human history of the Fort Snelling area goes back at least 10,000 years, into the end of the last ice age.
  • Trade - The rivers created a watery highway for trade that played a major part in the site’s history from prehistoric times, through the fur trade era, to today.
  • The Dakota - To the Dakota, the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers is sacred, some see it as a place of creation. Later, the fort was the site of an internment or concentration camp for 1,600 Dakota following the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.
  • U.S. military - The fort represents a site of U.S. military expansion into American Indian lands west of the Mississippi, including Dakota and Ojibwe homelands. Here soldiers mustered throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries to engage in national and global conflicts.
  • Slavery - Dred and Harriet Scott were among the enslaved people who used their residence at Fort Snelling to champion their fight for freedom.
  • Buffalo soldiers - During the 1880s, the fort was garrisoned by the 25th U.S. Infantry, an African American regiment often referred to as the "Buffalo Soldiers." This regiment fought in the Indian Wars west of the Mississippi.
  • Military intelligence - During World War II, Japanese Americans, many of whom had been forcibly relocated to internment camps, trained at Fort Snelling to gather intelligence that helped end the war.
  • Veterans - The fort has served as a place of homecoming and healing for American veterans, from the first hospital in Minnesota created inside the fort walls in 1820 to today’s VA and the National Cemetery.

Find out more about the project at www.mnhs.org/HFS2020 and join the discussion at #HFS2020.

Program Vision

Historic Fort Snelling Program Vision

For immediate release

Release dated: 
March 22, 2016
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lory Sutton, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Historic Fort Snelling Program Vision

The Fort Snelling and surrounding area has been a hub of human activity for at least 10,000 years. Our vision for Historic Fort Snelling is to revitalize the site in order to tell more of the fort’s essential stories from more perspectives–stories of American history told nowhere else.

For nearly 40 years, the interpretation at Historic Fort Snelling has centered on the site’s early military history, using live costumed interpretation to detail life at the fort during the 1820s. The broader history of the Fort Snelling area is referenced in an orientation video, several small exhibits and other interpretation around the site, but the need is clear for Historic Fort Snelling to tell a more inclusive story of the site’s human and natural history.

MNHS is at the beginning of this program development and is actively seeking input from the public around several major themes including: place, confluence, remembrance, healing and community. Six public meetings have been held to date, with more planned. Key stakeholders include Dakota and other American Indians, veterans, African Americans, Japanese Americans, educators and many more.

“Some argue that Historic Fort Snelling is the most important place in the Upper Midwest,” says Dan Spock, Historic Fort Snelling program lead. “The stories that are told here resonate with many different people. As a result, we are planning for the programming to change over time with the active participation of a wide variety of community partners.”

These rich stories will be shared through a dynamic, inclusive visitor experience featuring new exhibits with cutting-edge multimedia technology. Programming will change frequently, and will range from special events and living history to films, temporary exhibits and guided and self-guided experiences that will allow visitors to examine differing perspectives.

Find out more at www.mnhs.org/HFS2020 and join the discussion at #HFS2020.

Renderings

Historic Fort Snelling Renderings

For immediate release

Release dated: 
March 22, 2016
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lory Sutton, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Historic Fort Snelling Renderings

Aerial rendering of buildings 22 and 18
Aerial rendering of buildings 22 (ordnance) and 18 (historic cavalry barrack) by Leo A Daly

Rendering of building 18, new visitor center
Rendering of building 18 (historic cavalry barrack) by Leo A Daly

 

Images

Historic Fort Snelling Images

For immediate release

Release dated: 
March 22, 2016
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lory Sutton, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Historic Fort Snelling Images

Current visitor center

Spout
Water leak from building exterior

Former office destroyed due to water infiltration
Former office destroyed due to water infiltration

Crack
Crack in building exterior

Archaeology lab protected from water by tarps and hoses
Archaeology lab protected from water by tarps and hoses

Historic Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling
Historic Fort Snelling

Calvalry barracks
Buildings 17 & 18 today

Barracks in 1909
Building 18 in 1909, five years after it opened

An educational destination

Educational photos

Spokespeople

Historic Fort Snelling Spokespeople

For immediate release

Release dated: 
March 22, 2016
Media contacts: 

Jessica Kohen, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3148, jessica.kohen@mnhs.org
Lory Sutton, Marketing and Communications, 651­259­3140, lory.sutton@mnhs.org

Historic Fort Snelling Spokespeople

D. Stephen Elliott, director and CEO

D. Stephen Elliott has been the director and chief executive officer of the Minnesota Historical Society since 2011. In his more than 40 years of experience in the field, he has served as president/CEO of the New York State Historical Association, and as vice president of education and chief administration officer for The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He has served on many museum, history, education, and civic boards and is past chair of the American Association for State and Local History.

John Crippen, director of Historic Sites and Museums

John Crippen oversees the Minnesota Historical Society’s network of state historic sites, which includes Historic Fort Snelling. For more than 20 years he has worked in leadership roles within the sites network, including as head of the metro historic sites and director of Mill City Museum.

Dan Spock, director Minnesota History Center

Dan Spock oversees exhibits for the Minnesota Historical Society. Under his leadership, his team has developed a number of community-based exhibits including “We Are Hmong Minnesota,” “The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862” and “Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation,” which opens Spring 2016. Spock leads the program development team for the Historic Fort Snelling revitalization project.

Tom Pfannenstiel, site manager Historic Fort Snelling

Tom Pfannenstiel is the site manager at Historic Fort Snelling. He joined the Minnesota Historical Society in 1998 as district manager of metro historic sites, and has held other positions including preservation construction manager and historic properties manager. Prior to MNHS, Pfannenstiel served as executive director of the Wyandotte County Historical Society and Museum and director of the Smoky Hill Museum both located in Kansas.