Fifty years ago, in October 1963, a small group of Mantorville residents incorporated the Mantorville Restoration Association (MRA) as a non-profit with a mission to preserve and restore local historic sites and buildings and to educate people about the history of Mantorville, Dodge County, and Minnesota. The MRA has been instrumental in maintaining downtown Mantorville's character as an attractive and authentic historic community. It continues to focus on preservation and educating the area's children, adults and tourists, about local history.
The MRA's first acquisition was a circa 1860 home on Mantorville's Main street. The building (which served as the first courthouse offices for Dodge County) was restored and furnished to represent an upper-middle class house in the Victorian era, and has been open to the public since that time.
In 1974, the MRA worked with the City of Mantorville and the State Historic Preservation Office to have Mantorville's historic downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Soon after, the City passed an ordinance recognizing the MRA as a preservation advisor for city planning decisions within the historic district.
In 1987, the MRA rescued and restored a unique, circa 1870, three-story Log House scheduled for demolition. It now provides a glimpse of a southern Minnesota settler's home, and exhibits information about beer and barrel making, and the town's former Mantorville/Ginsburg Brewery.
Next, the MRA acquired and restored a circa 1860 limestone Carriage House within the city's Historic District, which now houses a display of agricultural artifacts.
In 2000, the City granted the limestone 1918 Mantorville Opera House to the MRA. It serves as a venue for the Mantorville Theater Company and other cultural and civic events.
Recently, the MRA acquired Mantorville's pre-1880s limestone Normal School building (once on the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota's "Ten Most Endangered" list.)
Additionally, the MRA (working with the City of Mantorville) saved an 1870's single-story Greek Revival-style home scheduled for demolition by relocating it within the Historic District. Its exterior was restored; the interior is now undergoing rehabilitation.
Over the years, the MRA has raised funds through bake sales, ice cream socials, the annual Mulligan Stew, auctions, and charitable gambling activities. One of our more visible fundraising activities is our annual Marigold Days festival, with this being the event's 48th year.
In addition to historic preservation, the MRA funds scholarships in both Kasson-Mantorville and Triton schools, and also contributes to activities for our area youths.
To honor the foresight, vision, and hard work of our founders and the half-century of sustained efforts by others that followed, we are excited to announce our Fifty Year Celebration. It will be held on Thursday, October 17 with tours of the Restoration House from 4:00-5:30pm. A reception will be held from 5:30-8pm at the Hubbell House, with a short program at 7:00pm.
The Mantorville Restoration Association welcomes all members and volunteers, past and present, as well as everyone who shares an interest in the continued preservation of Historic Mantorville, to attend this event.