Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Wondering about the Wanamingo Town Hall April 8, 2016

Wanamingo Town Hall, 112 view one


WOOD-FRAME TOWN HALLS aged by time hold a sense of history that always leaves me wondering.

The Wanamingo Town Hall, which I recently photographed in the ghost town of Aspelund in Goodhue County, is no exception. I thought a simple internet search would yield answers. It didn’t.


Wanamingo Town Hall, 113 view two


So I am left to wonder about this simple structure built during the Civil War and the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. Was this originally a schoolhouse as town halls often were? Is it still used for township activities? For 4-H meetings? As a polling place? I found a photo of a new pole shed style town hall online indicating this historic building is no longer used by township government.

I also learned some history of the area from the book, Minnesota Geographic Names—Their Origins and Historic Significance, written by Warren Upham and published by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1920. Wanamingo, the author writes, “settled in 1854, organized in 1858, is almost wholly occupied by prosperous Norwegian farmers” (page 209).

Today Wanamingo Township remains agriculture-based. And you can still see the strong Norwegian heritage in family surnames, in country churches, in business names and more. Is the area still occupied by primarily prosperous Norwegian farmers? That I can’t answer.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “Wondering about the Wanamingo Town Hall”

  1. Wyonne Long Says:

    Dear Audrey!
    Having your interesting ‘tidbits’ appear in my pc is such a blessing!! The value of small towns, rural areas and the wonderful people living there is emphasized –
    which is too easily overlooked. Of course, living outside MN and the USA makes your articles even more valuable!!

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Glad the building is still standing but I do wonder as you do what it is used for now.

  3. You might find more information from a librarian or a historian. I know you will let your readers know if you figure out the mystery as to what the building was used for. Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

  4. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Looks like a school but it’s missing a front entry. You will have to let us know if you find out anymore info.

  5. Janelle Parry Says:

    It still looks in such good shape for it’s age,it must be kept up by someone or a historical group. I am wishing we could see the inside. A mystery but also a worry if there is no group using it. It is a marvelous example of things I miss seeing in the rural areas. Thank you. For all your sharing!

  6. Dan Says:

    I just stumbled across your blog and love it, it’s given me plenty of ideas for day trips now. I was wondering, what camera are you using for these photos?

    • Welcome to the readership of Minnesota Prairie Roots, Dan. I’m happy to have you here enjoying my stories and photos.

      I shoot with a Canon EOS 20D DSLR. It’s a fairly old camera. I think the key to good photography is not so much the camera as the ability to frame and capture photos with the eye of an artist. I try to convey a strong sense of place in overall images and then also focus on details. I try to tell a story with my photos. My perspectives are many. I sometimes set my camera on the floor/ground and simply aim up and click. I get down on my knees. I hold my camera above my head and shoot down. I think outside the box when I use my camera.

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