Historic Fort Snelling Revitalization

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MNHS Funding May 2018

Minnesota Historical Society Thanks Governor Dayton for Historic Fort Snelling Support, Legislature for Funding

For immediate release

Release dated: 
May 21, 2018
Media contacts: 

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

Minnesota Historical Society Thanks Governor Dayton for Historic Fort Snelling Support, Legislature for Funding

Dollars support Historic Fort Snelling revitalization and preservation of statewide historic sites

The Minnesota Legislature passed the capital budget bill last night, which includes $15 million for the revitalization of Historic Fort Snelling and $8 million for statewide historic sites asset preservation. The governor—who recommended $30 million for Historic Fort Snelling—has not yet signed the bill.  

MNHS thanks the governor and legislators, educators, veterans, community partners, MNHS members and private citizens statewide for their continued support of the Historic Fort Snelling revitalization project.

The amount appropriated for Historic Fort Snelling this year is half of the $30 million needed from the state for the full revitalization. The next step is to revise the schedule for this complex project after consulting with project managers, architects, contractors and community partners.

“Historic Fort Snelling is our state’s first National Historic Landmark, and its revitalization is crucial in sharing the full military history and historical significance of the area, and the stories of the many peoples throughout time who have a connection with this important place,” said D. Stephen Elliott, director and CEO of MNHS. “As I retire from the Minnesota Historical Society, I join the many Minnesotans who are gratified that the revitalization is moving forward to enable today’s schoolchildren and future generations to learn from our past in the place where so much of our history happened.”

“We are already developing new interpretive programs at Historic Fort Snelling, some of which visitors can experience this summer,” said Melanie Adams, director of guest experience and educational services. “With the state’s investment, we can focus on rehabilitating the buildings, which will allow us to expand this work even further, welcome more visitors and engage with more students.”

The goal is to complete the $46.5 million project in its entirety, which calls for additional state funding. The $46.5 million includes $4.5 million for predesign and design appropriated by the legislature in 2015 and 2017, a commitment by MNHS to raise $12 million in private funding, and the $15 million allocated this session. MNHS will continue to advocate for the remaining $15 million in state funding.

Once fully funded, the revitalization plan will include the rehabilitation of a historic cavalry barracks and an ordnance building to create a new visitor center and orientation area; the removal of the current visitor center; landscaping and wayfinding; and new exhibits and programs developed in partnership with community partners.

This summer, visitors can explore Historic Fort Snelling starting with the popular Memorial Day Weekend program, May 26-28, and then daily, Tuesday through Sunday, starting June 9. Find out more at www.mnhs.org/fortsnelling.

The $8 million asset preservation appropriation supports preservation and rehabilitation at MNHS historic sites and museums statewide, as well as necessary fire and security upgrades.  MNHS cares for 154 buildings statewide, of which nearly half are more than a century old.

About Minnesota Historical Society
The Minnesota Historical Society is a nonprofit 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.

Lead Release

Deadline Nears for State to Support a Revitalized Historic Fort Snelling

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 31, 2018
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

Deadline Nears for State to Support a Revitalized Historic Fort Snelling

Remaining $30 million is needed in time for fort’s bicentennial in 2020

The Minnesota Historical Society is asking the state legislature to support a $30 million capital budget request to fund a much-needed revitalization and renovation of Historic Fort Snelling in time for its bicentennial in 2020. Governor Dayton has included this request in this year’s capital budget recommendations and has done so since 2015. MNHS is grateful for his support.

The $30 million request continues the investment Minnesota has already made in this historic icon. The legislature awarded $4 million for design in 2017 and $500,000 for predesign in 2015. The funding to date, along with $12 million in private funds raised by MNHS, has kept the revitalization project on schedule. However, completing the project is contingent on receiving the remaining state support in this year’s bonding bill.

Schematic design concepts developed this winter show the possibilities for the revitalization. Beginning with the removal of the current failing visitor center, new visitor reception center and orientation spaces will be created within a 1905 cavalry barracks and an 1880 ordnance building and will include a 4,000-square-foot exhibit space and expanded flex spaces that can be used as classrooms or as meeting rooms for community partners. In addition, the grounds will be landscaped to provide opportunities for outside learning and for reflection and commemoration.

“Time is of the essence. The current visitor center has serious, chronic maintenance issues. Our plan is to use vacant historic buildings on site to introduce visitors to the many historical narratives of the fort and the surrounding Bdote area,” says MNHS Director and CEO Stephen Elliott. “With the approaching bicentennial of the fort in 2020, this project provides the opportunity to revitalize Minnesota’s first National Historic Landmark, the site of its oldest buildings, and expand the stories told there–stories of major significance in American history that happened here in Minnesota.”

A major component of the project has been the creation of a Dakota Community Council (DCC), made up of Dakota members from Minnesota and surrounding states. Through a formal partnership, the DCC and MNHS are developing programs that share the long history of the Dakota in the area. Historic Fort Snelling lies at Bdote, a sacred place for the Dakota and a site of Native American history that dates back as far as 10,000 years.

In addition, program developers are working to broaden daily and seasonal offerings, so that visitors can explore not only the 1820s U.S. military fort, but will also learn about veterans and their families from the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Vietnam and the Gulf War. In addition, daily programs will feature stories of enslaved and free African Americans and Buffalo Soldiers, and Japanese American soldiers who served in military intelligence in World War II.

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 an 1820s Army outpost to protect U.S. interests in the fur trade, 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.

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: 
January 31, 2018
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: the yearning for freedom and the defense of freedom; the protection of human rights; and the recognition of sovereignty and the struggle for power. 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 known as Bdote. It is a sacred place, and for some, it is a place of creation. Later, the fort was the site of a 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 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 in the 1850s.
  • 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 whose families had been forcibly relocated from the West Coast, trained at Fort Snelling to gather intelligence that helped end the war. Many made Minnesota home.
  • Veterans - The fort has served as a place of homecoming, service and healing for hundreds of thousands of American veterans, from the first hospital in Minnesota created inside the fort walls in 1820 to today’s VA and  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: 
January 31, 2018
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

Fort Snelling and the surrounding area, known as Bdote by the Dakota, have been a hub of human activity for 10,000 years. The vision for Historic Fort Snelling is to inspire a better future by providing a place to learn, share and connect to all of the complex stories that shape history in Minnesota.

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 when it was first built. Moving forward, MNHS is working in partnership with community groups to develop a new interpretive plan that will guide program choices for the future. Stakeholders include the Dakota Community Council and other Native American groups, veterans, African Americans, Japanese Americans, educators and more.

In 2018, visitors will be invited to help test new exhibits and programs that showcase the diversity of stories related to this unique place. The public will be able to engage with both costumed and non-costumed staff through guided tours, demonstrations, temporary exhibits, performances and conversations. This feedback will help inform program decisions for 2020.

Fort Snelling means many things to many people. From the homeland of the Dakota long before the fort existed, to the memories of World War II veterans who mustered out there, this place holds meaning and memories that are at once stirring, powerful and complex. 

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

Renderings

Historic Fort Snelling Renderings

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 31, 2018
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

Design renderings provide a look at what a revitalized Historic Fort Snelling might look like once construction is complete. These renderings are drafts and do not necessarily reflect final design decisions.

rendering showing a revitalized Historic Fort Snelling
Aerial rendering of buildings 22 (ordnance) and 18 (historic cavalry barrack) by Leo A Daly

Images

Historic Fort Snelling Images

For immediate release

Release dated: 
January 31, 2018
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

These images may be used for editorial purposes in magazines, newspapers, broadcast and online to promote Historic Fort Snelling.

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: 
January 31, 2018
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.

Melanie Adams, PhD, senior director, guest experience & educational services 
Minnesota Historical Society

Melanie Adams

Since 2016, Melanie Adams has overseen the programs and operations of MNHS’ network of historic sites and museums. She has more than 25 years of experience in educational and historical institutions working to develop engaging experiences that reflect history’s continued relevance. Adams is a board member of the American Association of State and Local History and former president of the Association of Midwest Museums.

Joe Horse Capture, director, Native American Initiatives
Minnesota Historical Society

Joe Horse Capture

Joe Horse Capture joined MNHS in 2016 as director of the Native American Initiatives department. During this time, MNHS entered into a formal partnership with the Dakota Community Council to ensure that Dakota people, history, perspectives and homelands are honored and sustained at Historic Fort Snelling. Horse Capture is a member of the A’aninin tribe of Montana and has worked as a curator at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

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.

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