The Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum in Burr Oak, Iowa is excited to announce the non-profit’s newest acquisition. In December of 2018 the former “Burr Oak Mercantile” building was gifted to the museum by the family of Robert M. Brimacomb. The board and staff are excited at the potential this building brings the museum and are eager to start fundraising to begin the restoration process.
Although the former mercantile was built in 1908, years after the Ingalls family lived in Burr Oak (1876-1877), the building gives the museum an opportunity to spread out. Offices and the museum’s gift shop are currently housed in the old Burr Oak Savings Bank, which has limited space. The goal is to restore the mercantile building for use as the visitor’s center/gift shop and offices and use the bank building as a Burr Oak History Center.
With the acquisition of the Mercantile, the museum now owns four properties in Burr Oak consisting of the Master’s Hotel (the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder in 1876), the former Burr Oak Savings Bank, and the Advent Christian Church (located at the gates of the Burr Oak Cemetery). Both the Master’s Hotel & the former Burr Oak Savings Bank are on the National Registry of Historical places.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum welcomes on average 6,000 guests (May-October) from all 50 states and many different countries, having a significant impact on local tourism.
“We are thankful to the Robert M. Brimacomb family for gifting this beautiful building and we’re extremely eager to begin the restoration process. The building has always been an asset to Burr Oak and we think the community will be excited to see it restored and in use again after sitting empty for years” Dawn Maroushek, Laura Ingalls Wilder Board President, stated. “Part of this process for us will also include learning more about the history of the building. We’d love to hear people’s stories, whether they once shopped there or just remember being in there as a kid.”
The museum’s goal in restoration is to have a portion of it set up as an old mercantile, representing the time it was built. This will give visitors a chance to visualize the early 1900’s in addition to their museum tour where they will experience what life was like for Laura in Burr Oak during the late 1800’s.
The museum is a non-profit organization with limited funds and hope the community, citizens of Winneshiek County and museum guests will help in funding the restoration process. What ways can people help? Direct donations to the museum designated for this project, donating to the museum’s Annual Campaign, becoming a member of the museum, supporting their annual fundraising events (Spaghetti Supper/Auction, Laura Days). All donations to the museum are tax deductible.
For more information on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & Museum, please visit their website at www.lauraingallswilder.us.