Open house, cemetery tours highlight Preservation WeekOakwood Cemetery, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places in February, will be featured during Preservation Week activities sponsored by the Red Wing Heritage Preservation Commission.
Oakwood Cemetery, which was named to the National Register of Historic Places in February, will be featured during Preservation Week activities sponsored by the Red Wing Heritage Preservation Commission.
The group plans a free, public open house from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 19 in the historic chapel at the base of the bluff. A program is scheduled at noon.
People are invited to come early and go on a walking tour of the cemetery conducted by Johanna Grothe, collections manager for the Goodhue County Historical Society, at 10 a.m.
Oakwood Cemetery’s history dates to the 1850s, when the land was purchased by the city. The cemetery was platted in 1864.
The distinctive structures that mark the entrance to the cemetery — Betcher Memorial Chapel and the Blodgett memorial arched gateway — were added in the early 1900s. Both are made of Red Wing limestone.
The chapel was a gift to the city from Margaret Betcher in memory of her husband, Charles. It is distinguished by its red tile roof, marble and ash wood interior and Gothic style opalescent stained-glass windows.
Elijah Blodgett donated the gateway in memory of his wife, Sarah. It consists of a main arch that is wide enough to accommodate a carriage plus two smaller arches on either side.
A number of notable people in Minnesota history are buried at Oakwood, including Civil War Gen. Lucius Hubbard, who also was governor in the 1880s; Joseph Hancock, who was Red Wing’s first permanent white settler; and T.B. Sheldon, whose bequest resulted in the Sheldon Theatre being built.
Grothe’s 90-minute tour will include a brief history of the cemetery, symbolism found on headstones, mourning practices of the Victorian era and information about some of the people buried at Oakwood. Participants will walk to about 20 gravesites in the older part of the cemetery.
A $5 fee will be charged for the guided tour, and payment may be made that morning. Reservations are required. To reserve a spot, call the History Center at 651-388-6024. If there is sufficient demand, a second tour will be held at 1 p.m.
The tour will begin at the cemetery office. People can park on the side streets nearby or park below the cemetery and walk or share rides to the top.
The story of the cemetery and its structures will be told at noon by Daniel Hoisington of Hoisington Preservation Consultants, who prepared the documents nominating Oakwood for the National Register.
It is the only active city-owned cemetery in Minnesota to be named to the National Register. It is not common for cemeteries to achieve the designation. Oakwood’s distinctions include its park-like landscaping.
The historical society will provide displays and maps inside the chapel, including information on the Red Wing Pottery grave markers that can be found in the cemetery. Refreshments will be served.
If you go…
What: Oakwood Cemetery open house/tour
Who: Red Wing Heritage Preservation Commission and Goodhue County Historical Society
When: May 19, 10 a.m. tour, 11:30-1:30 p.m. open house
Where: End of East Avenue
Cost: $5 fee for cemetery tour
Tour reservations: 651-388-6024
The impact of Eisenhower Bridge work on Red Wing’s historic downtown will be the topic of a Preservation Week presentation scheduled for May 24 in the Indigo Room, on the upper floor of the Indigo Building, 325 Main St.
The program, which is free and open to the public, is the second of two local events planned by the Red Wing Heritage Preservation Commission in observance of National Preservation Month.
It will begin with a 6:30 p.m. social hour, followed by the commission’s presentation of its annual Preservation Awards of Merit at 7:00 p.m., followed by the bridge project educational program.
Sue Granger of Gemini Research will describe a two-phase survey being done of the historic structures in downtown Red Wing, East Red Wing and other areas in the vicinity of the Eisenhower Bridge.
Granger completed the first phase last year under contract to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The Minnesota and Wisconsin transportation departments are proposing to either reconstruct or replace the Eisenhower Bridge and possibly an adjacent approach bridge.
Before embarking on the project, the National Historic Preservation Act requires a survey of historic structures.
Granger’s report will focus on how they could be affected by the bridge project.
Gemini Research, located in Morris, Minn., provides cultural resources consulting, historical research and historic preservation services to governments, private clients and the general public.
A highly regarded firm, Gemini was presented with Minnesota Preservation Awards in 2001 and 2007 by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota for its work. The National Barn Alliance and the Society of Architectural Historians also have honored the firm.
Red Wing’s Preservation Awards of Merit are presented each year to individuals, institutions and businesses that have been involved in exceptional historic preservation projects.
When selecting structures for the honor, the commission considers age, architecture, historic significance and building materials as well as how well the preservation or restoration work was done without violating the architectural integrity of the structure’s exterior.
The commission also will report on the annual sixth-grade Historical Scavenger Hunt. A sheet with images of 12 architectural elements that can be found on buildings in downtown Red Wing was distributed to Twin Bluff Middle School sixth-graders studying Minnesota and Red Wing history.
The social studies students have an opportunity to win prizes as well as extra credit for going out independently and locating the features.
The Heritage Preservation Commission has sponsored the scavenger hunt for several years as a means of introducing a new generation to a segment of local heritage and helping them recognize what has been accomplished by preservation efforts locally. There will be no general public scavenger hunt this year.