Old Mill Museum Awarded Funding

The Old Mill Museum in Lindsborg will benefit from over $100,000 in new funding thank to a couple of recent grants.

Officials say the funding is specifically for urgent building repairs.

First, $20,000 has been awarded from the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation in San Francisco, which will be used to repair the splintering front porch of the historic 1904 World’s Fair Swedish Pavilion!

Second, $87,350 has been awarded from the Kansas Historical Society’s Heritage Trust Fund, which will go to exterior repairs on the 1898 Smoky Valley Roller Mills. The museum was one of just seven projects selected for funding out of 36 applications to the fund.

Heritage Trust Funs $87,350 Grant:

The Heritage Trust Fund (HTF) announced on Saturday, February 4 that Lindsborg Old Mill & Swedish Heritage Museum is receiving a grant of $87,350 to fund critical restoration to the historic 1898 Smoky Valley Roller Mills.

Lenora Lynam, Executive Director of the Museum, said the grant comes at the perfect time.

“With 2023 marking the 125th anniversary of the construction of the mill, this is a wonderful recognition of the Old Mill’s historical value,” Lynam said. “These funds provide essential support and will allow us to make important repairs to preserve this treasure on the Smoky Hill River.”

The state program under the Kansas Historical Society provides matching grants to help preserve historic locations in the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places or the Register of Historic Kansas Places.

The grant for the Old Mill was one of just seven selected in the 2023 annual awards, out of 36 proposals. HTF has proposed $637,796 in grant funding across the seven recipient projects, in the highly competitive process.

The HTF reimburses expenses for projects that preserve or restore historic properties. Qualifying expenses include professional fees and construction costs. Individual grant awards may not exceed $100,000 and must be matched at 20% by the grant recipient. For the museum, this match has already been secured as of early November 2022, with $20,000 of grants awarded through the McPherson County Community Foundation.

“I think the community foundation grants were really important in us being able to secure the Heritage Trust Fund grants named last weekend,” Lynam said. “It demonstrated to the HTF decision committee just how much local support is behind the museum, and their belief in our mission and ability to succeed in it.”

Together, the HTF grant and community fund grants will cover more than $100,000 in estimated repairs to the roller mills. The work includes repair to the mill’s upper exterior walls and the stone framing – called a “lintel” – along the top of the mill’s windows and one of its doors. After this work is completed, any necessary repainting of the words “1898 Smoky Valley Roller Mills” on the top of the building’s front face will also be covered by the grant funds.

“This is a great day for the mill,” Lynam said. “We can’t thank the trust fund enough for this vote of support and confidence in our work.”

Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation $20,000 Grant:

During the museum’s last community volunteer day in October, Kim Colby was trying to help paint the porch of the Swedish Pavilion at the Lindsborg Old Mill and Swedish Heritage Museum.

He couldn’t.

It wasn’t for lack of trying, but as Colby tried to apply a fresh coat of paint, the boards turned to splinters beneath his brush.

“The porch is totally gone as far as decay,” he said later on in January 2023. “Even if you paint the top part, it’s pretty much a waste of money until you get in the foundation boards because of the rot there.”

Fortunately, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation of San Francisco, Calif., has announced a new $20,000 grant to the museum, earmarked for a full repair of the badly deteriorating porch on the 119-year-old building.

Barbro Sachs-Osher, chair of the foundation, said that on the occasions she has visited Lindsborg, it felt like visiting Sweden itself, with a Dala horse around every corner. She said the museum had an important role in keeping Swedish traditions alive in the region, which is why they selected it for the grant.

“There is a Swedish legacy in Kansas and in Lindsborg in particular,” she said. “Without history, we are nowhere and this is an important legacy in the Midwest. When we were there, we were deeply touched by how you keep the Swedish history and legacy up to date in keeping the Swedish history of Lindsborg.”

Colby said it was great to know that the porch will be repaired with the grant. The next time he volunteers to paint on the pavilion, it should be to porch boards that are again strong, solid, and safer.

“I think it’s wonderful that there’s grants that cover this kind of thing and keep it in shape,” he said. “You’d hate to have to tear it down because you can’t afford to keep it up in good condition.”

Colby has lived in Lindsborg for six year and in Assaria before that. He has seen that Lindsborg cherishes and preserves its past, particularly at the museum and its many buildings.

“I’ve always really enjoyed it and liked it,” he said, “And I like the idea of keeping up the history.”

About the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation

Established in 1996, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation provides support “to nonprofit organizations that benefit Swedish education, culture, and arts.” Sachs-Osher and her husband, Bernard, created the foundation. She is the Consul General for Sweden in San Francisco and is the former owner and publisher of “Vestkusten” – one of the few U.S.-based Swedish-American newspapers. She also founded the Swedish Women’s Educational Association chapter in San Francisco.

About the Swedish Pavilion

Designed by Ferdinand Boberg, one of Sweden’s premier architects at the turn of the century, the Swedish Pavilion is the only one of Boberg’s international exposition buildings in existence today. It is the only example of his work in the United States. It is also one of very few international buildings remaining from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

At the close of the Fair, the Swedish Pavilion was purchased by W.W. Thomas, U.S. Minister to Sweden and Norway, and presented to Bethany College in Lindsborg as a memorial to his friend Carl Swensson who had died very suddenly in February 1904. It served as a classroom for domestic sciences, library, museum and home to the art department for more than 60 years under Swedish-born artist Birger Sandzen. In 1969 the Swedish Pavilion was moved from Bethany College to the museum. The building was entered onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.