J.V. Bailey House open for tours during fair
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. — If the response for the first tour is any indication, tours of the J.V. Bailey House are going to become a perennial tradition at the Minnesota State Fair.
People were lined up out the door waiting to be the first to tour the yellow house on the fairgrounds.
"There’s been a lot of curiosity about what’s in the big yellow house," said Lindsay Dickson, annual giving manager for the Minnesota State Fair Foundation.
The Foundation decided to offer guided tours of the house daily at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. during the 2010 state fair to satiate that curiosity.
The house is one of three on the grounds and was a private residence until 2004. The greenhouse superintendent and his family lived in the house, which is connected to the greenhouses via an underground entrance, Dickson said.
In 2006, the Bailey family from Newport honored the founder of the Bailey Family Nurseries, J.V. Bailey, by providing a gift to restore the house. John Vincent Bailey did not live in the house, but he did serve as horticulture superintendent and as a member of the Agricultural Society Board in the 1920s and 1930s. He was president of the Ag Society in 1933-34 and was a pioneer in the Minnesota nursery industry.
The house was built in 1911 and at one time housed members of the State Ag Society board of managers during the fair. In 1916, it became the residence of the greenhouse superintendent.
The greenhouses are still used and most of the plants seen on the grounds originate in the state fair greenhouses, Dickson said.
Now, the second floor is office space for the Minnesota State Fair Foundation. The main floor hosts donor receptions, exhibits and now, tours.
This year, the Fabulous Fair Alphabet is on display in one room and photographs from past state fairs are on display in another. In the library, there are past state fair annual reports and the only original piece of furniture in the house. Atop the original desk sits a computer open to a website that invites state fair visitors to share their state fair stories.
The Minnesota State Fair Foundation has four full-time staff members, Dickson said. The Foundation raises funds to improve the buildings and grounds of the 320 acre state fairgrounds. They also raise funds to improve educational experiences for fairgoers, including the Moo Booth, which was revamped last year.
Another recent project was installing 5,000 energy efficient light bulbs on the grandstand marquee.
This year, 60 new benches were installed around the grounds through donor support, Dickson said. The History Walking Tour of the fairgrounds and the Fabulous Fair Alphabet also received Foundation support.
"Connecting old with new is what we like to do at the fair," Dickson said.