The mid-19th-century chimney of the Arcola Mill with ruins of a 20th-century summer cottage, as seen from the west. Photographed in May 2018.

The Minnesota Historical Society last week announced it will grant Arcola Mills Historic Foundation $10,000 for an assessment of conditions at the site.

The property is what remains of the former community of Arcola, founded by brothers John and Martin Mower in the 19th century. The pair built the house and sawmill in 1847.  Prosperous for a time, the surrounding village had a store, schoolhouse, houses for mill employees and carpentry and blacksmith shops. Arcola faded with the end of the lumber boom, and by the mid 1930s, the property stood abandoned. 

As the Arcola Mills Historic Foundation tells it, Dr. Henry Van Meier and his newly wed wife, Katharine, were hunting for ferns when they came upon the site. They fell in love with the property, purchasing the riverfront home and surrounding acreage for a summer getaway. They used it until Henry’s death in 1979, bringing several cast off buildings in as cottages to host friends and artists.

The home and remnants of the mill were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. 

The site is now a nonprofit event and education center, though parts of the property have become dilapidated. The Arcola Mills Historic Foundation will use the Minnesota Historical Society grant to hire an architect to conduct a condition assessment.

The award was announced last week with 41 other Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Small Grants. Made possible by Legacy Amendment funding approved by Minnesota voters in 2004, the grants are intended to help nonprofit, educational, government and tribal organizations preserve and share Minnesota history. This year’s awards were approved June 6.

free - parking is $5 per vehicle. Concerts take place between 2 and 6 p.m. Free tours of the park exhibit between sets. In the event of rain, Franconia has a large tent set up to shelter guests. All events are family and dog friendly. Please pick-up after your furry friend.

2 p.m. Barbaro

Barbaro is an award-winning, progressive bluegrass band that plays music for films about cooking. Spicy instrumentals, savory harmonies, and to-the-point songwriting create a dynamic and captivating set for audiences of all ages and musical tastes. 2019 is a year of exciting momentum for Barbaro. Following the release of their self-titled EP, Barbaro joined the lineup of premier Midwest music festivals like Blue Ox, Boats & Bluegrass, and MBOTMA. Barbaro took home first place at the John Hartford Memorial Festival Band Contest and won Best Americana-Roots Band at the Minnesota Stage Fair. They look forward to releasing a full-length album in 2019.

4 p.m. Scottie Miller Band

Singer-songwriter, pianist Scottie Miller has been inducted in to the Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame for both Contributions to Blues Music and Heritage (for his instructional book Rock Keyboards published by Hal Leonard), and in 2018 as Blues Performer (their highest honor). He founded the Scottie Miller Band in 2000 and has just released his tenth CD. He has also been the touring keyboardist for three-time Grammy nominated singer Ruthie Foster (Blue Corn Records) since 2008. He is featured on her Blues Music Award winning CD/DVD "Live At Antone’s”, and recently performed to a sold-out audience at Carnegie Hall in NYC. Scottie met Ruthie while on tour as the keyboardist for Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame legend Bo Diddley. Scottie’s original brand of music is steeped in blues, and covers a wide pallet of styles including Barrelhouse Piano Blues, rock, funk, soul, jazz, classical, Americana and singer-songwriter. 

Music@Franconia is made possible, in part, by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the East Central Regional Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Thank you!

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