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Historic Forestville gets historic endowment

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A variety of fun and activities was held Thursday at the Historic Forestville's 1899 Independence Day.

FORESTVILLE — Thanks to some generous friends in the Twin Cities and in the local area, Historic Forestville now has an endowment fund of $194,326.50.

Interest generated by that endowment "can be used for anything and everything," said Sandy Scheevel, site manager. "There are no strings attached."

It could be used for operations, food or special clothing for the staff that dresses as if they lived in 1899. A plaque honoring donors was dedicated in the site's big Fourth of July celebration.

Historic Forestville is inside Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park along the Root River south of Wykoff. It's built around the old Meighen Store, which looks like a general store from that period. It also has a barn, stable, garden and attached house, where park workers still bake and cook with wood.

Like many historic sites, Forestville has struggled with funding, Scheevel said. She has to fill in for other staff at times doing routine jobs instead of focusing more on management and programs, she said.


Then Richard DeLeo, who lived in the Twin Cities but loved Forestville, died and left a challenge - he would donate $1 for every $2 raised and it would be part of an endowment fund.

Scheevel said DeLeo was a school teacher who has a passion for history. "He loved this place — he just loved it," she said.

She said she has wanted to develop new programs but funding just wasn't there. And there are so many routine things needed, including clothing and roof repairs. "It's like your house with lots of kids," she said. "There are lots of needs."

When fundraising was done, 131 donors contributed $129,551, said Karen Humphrey, senior major gift officer with the Minnesota Historical Society. The match was $64.775.50, she said.

Of the donors, three from the Twin Cities gave about $71,000, but the rest was from smaller donations, some as little as $5, she said.

In the Twin Cities, DeLeo also has challenge grants for the Alexander Ramsey House and Henry Hastings Sibley House but there, there were fewer donors who gave more each, she said.

Having many smaller donors for Forestville bodes well for the site because it shows it has a "wide range of support," Humphrey said. That "really means a lot."

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