Shifting Gears for 50 Years

Shifting Gears for 50 Years

For the first time since 2007 the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society will not be having the White Bear Area Historic House Tour this fall. The tradition which began in the 1970s as a collaboration between the historical society and the White Bear Lake Women’s Club as a part of Manitou Days was revived by the WBLAHS in 2007.  The community building event served as an opportunity to raise funds, hear stories of our community through homes that are interesting due to their architecture, former inhabitants, location or other features and bring people to the area. With the challenges presented by COVID-19 it was decided that the Historic House Tour 2020 would be canceled.

When one door closes another opens. September 25, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the incorporation of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society as an organization. With the Historic House Tour scheduled for Sunday, September 27th we contemplated several ideas to commemorate this important milestone, but continued to struggle with balancing it and the effort required by the tour. With the cancellation of the tour event this year, a newly envisioned anniversary celebration has taken shape. Much like the rest of the world, we have had to rethink and re-envision how we do things and particularly how we can continue to connect our community to its past. As a historian, shifting to new and everchanging technology is not my strongest skillset, but I am inspired by looking back to those who had the foresight in 1970 to formally create an organized charged with preserving the history of this special place and those who took the leap in 2001 to hire the first paid staff to allow the WBLAHS to grow and adapt to the changing times. As we celebrate the past 50 years and launch the WBLAHS on the path for the next 50 years we must continue to adapt and reimagine what it possible.

Over the weekend of September 25-27 the WBLAHS will present “50 for 50 – Celebrating 50 Years of the WBLAHS” a 50 hour virtual “event” featuring an online segment each hour that showcases  an aspect of our community’s rich history and inspires viewers to support the important work of the WBLAHS with a goal of raising $50,000 for 50 Years. The online segments will include live and pre-recorded sections on local favorites such as Wildwood Amusement Park, White Bear’s Notorious Gangsters, The Johnson Boat Works Story, Cass Gilbert’s White Bear Cottages, White Bear’s Hockey History and much more including an interactive happy hour and live trivia segment on Saturday night.

In 2020 we have launched our first efforts into virtual programming and have been inspired by the opportunity to reach audiences that would have previously been limited by geography, scheduling conflicts and other obstacles that disappear when a program is available online. Admittedly, the format is not perfect and we would never rely solely upon it for connecting with our members and supporters, but during these unusual times it is a wonderful opportunity to connect in a new way. We hope you will join us!

Congratulations Graduates of 2020

Congratulations Graduates of 2020

Much has been said and done to honor the graduates of 2020. Their senior year has been very different than many of them expected and their resilience is something that should not be taken lightly. They join other classes who suffered unimaginable challenges when their school careers began.

The class of 1918 found themselves graduating into a war like none that had been seen before. Graduating classes from the 1940s and 1960s encountered similar uncertainty as draft boards issued orders and futures were unclear. For each generation and each graduating class there are different circumstances and different trials to overcome. Often these experiences make the individuals stronger and ultimately the community more robust.

The White Bear Lake Area Historical Society is honored to have been invited to make a donation to the White Bear Lake Area High School graduating class of 2020. Each graduate has been provided a copy of Looking Back at White Bear Lake:  A Pictorial History of the White Bear Lake Area by Cynthia E. Vadnais. We hope this gift provides them with the opportunity to have a better understanding of the history of this area and the importance of the unique stories of each member of this community.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020! We salute you as you make your mark on history and can’t wait to see what you do next!

White Bear’s Civil War Monument

White Bear’s Civil War Monument

Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was originally called, was celebrated on May 30th of each year for more than a century. In 1971 the observed holiday was officially set as the last Monday in May. The origins of the holiday on a national scale can be complex, but the residents of White Bear have traditionally commemorated the occasion in one way or another since the late nineteenth century.

In 1912 the White Bear Soldiers’ Monument Association was formed and petitioned the Village Council of White Bear to request permission to “locate and erect a soldiers’ monument in the parkway in Clark Avenue between First and Second Streets”. Contributions from the White Bear Chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic (G. A. R.), a veterans organization organized in 1885, and private citizens made the monument a reality.

Throughout 1912 and the first portion of 1913 there was much discussion on the where along Clark Avenue the monument should be positioned. The Soldiers’ Monument Association was required by the Village Council to enlist support for the project from a majority of the property owners along Clark Avenue. This was successfully completed with the notable exception of one property owner, Mr. T. L. Bourquin, who objected to the location and recommended the monument be erected in a public park. His concern was that “by placing a Soldier’s [sic] Monument in the center of the boulevard thereby, interfering with the view of the lake from the depot and giving the large traveling public an impression of a graveyard to gaze at while waiting for their respective trains.”

At the White Bear Village Council meeting on December 3, 1912, unanimous approval was granted to place the monument at Clark Avenue between First and Second Streets. The monument was erected at that location and dedicated on May 30, 1913. During the reconstruction of Clark Avenue in 2004 the monument was moved to its current position one hundred feet to the north of its original location thus allowing it to be more visible to the public.

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

Based on the guidelines from Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health to help slow the Spread of COVID-19, our office at the White Bear Lake Armory will be closed through April 3rd. Also All March programs have been canceled. Please stay tuned for news about April events. Please feel free to contact us at651-407-5327 or office@whitebearhistory.org 

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but we want everyone to stay healthy!