Moose Lake Historical Society receives grant to develop oral history of hospitalRecently, the Moose Lake Historical Society (MLHS) was notified that it was the recipient of a $7,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society to record an oral history of the Moose Lake State Hospital.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Dozens of organizations across the state continue to build Minnesota’s cultural and historic legacy with grant funds for history and historic preservation projects of enduring value. Most recently, the Moose Lake Historical Society (MLHS) was notified that it was the recipient of a $7,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society to record an oral history of the Moose Lake State Hospital.
“We plan to gather an oral history from employees, or possibly their family members, from the former Moose Lake Hospital,” said Natalie Thorp, executive director of the MLHS. “We’re interested in things such as what a typical day for a patient might have looked like and what and how things were done back then.”
Thorp said the MLHS hopes to begin interviewing for the history project as soon as possible, and they have an 18-month timeline to complete it. She said the Society hopes to eventually wrap all of the information gathered into a book.
The Moose Lake State Hospital, the fourth hospital for the mentally ill in Minnesota, was built as a public works administration project in 1936-1938, according to the website, Placeology.
“Massive brick buildings [at the facility] created a rather somber interpretation of the Colonial Revival style which was certainly affected by the Depression,” the site details.
The hospital was designed to be an independent community, with administration, medical center, receiving wards for men and women, kitchen, bakery, laundry, powerhouse and sewage disposal units, four dormitories for patients, a nurses’ home, and a superintendent’s residence.
In 1959, when the Sandstone State Hospital closed, its alcoholic program was transferred to Moose Lake. By 1961, treatment of alcoholism was a specialization of Moose Lake. In 1966 a program for adolescents was begun, in which some of the participants attended public school and gained high school credits. Also in 1966 all of the hospital’s medical/surgical wards were closed. In 1972 the hospital began a long term chemical dependency program and in 1984 implemented a collaborative inpatient/outpatient chemical dependency program in conjunction with the Northland Mental Health Center in Grand Rapids.
With the closing of the Rochester State Hospital in 1982, Moose Lake received 50 patients and began development of a specialized geriatric (psycho-geriatric) program.
By the 1980s the hospital had four active programs serving either all of or parts of 13 surrounding counties. The four programs included mental retardation service, chemical dependency service; mental illness service, which served all 13 counties except Ramsey and Washington; and psycho-geriatric service, which provided service statewide.
This most recent grant to the MLHS is the second such grant it has received. The first was to fund research on survivors of the 1918 Fire.
Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants are made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed by Minnesota voters on Nov. 4, 2008. The amendment supports efforts to preserve Minnesota land, water and legacy, including state history and cultural heritage.
“In this latest round of grants, there is an important emphasis on continuing education for local history professionals. Ensuring these professionals are armed with the latest skills, knowledge and technology helps their communities successfully preserve Minnesota’s history and heritage on a local level,” said David Grabitske, manager of outreach services for the Minnesota Historical Society. “We also see a strong drive for documentation of historic events, people and communities in the recent and distant past, from an exhibit about the I-35W bridge just five years after the collapse to the search for information about St. Louis County’s lost Burntside River community.”
The Society received a 2011 legislative appropriation to award a total of $10.5 million in Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants during the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. The grants provide an unprecedented opportunity for non-profit and educational organizations, government units and tribal organizations to preserve and share the state’s history and cultural heritage.
Grants are available for history and historic preservation projects in three tiers: Small or Structured Grants of $7,000 or less, Mid-Size Grants between $7,001 and $50,000, and Large Grants of more than $50,001. For more information on the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grants program, including application deadlines, visit www.mnhs.org/legacygrants.
For more information about other Legacy-funded history projects, visit http://legacy.mnhs.org.