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Dodge County debates preserving historic site

Dodge County held a meeting to discuss plans to put money towards the treatment of Wasioja Seminary Ruins, or not.

Posted: Mar 13, 2018 9:48 PM
Updated: Mar 14, 2018 8:07 AM

Wasioja, Minn. - A couple years ago, Dodge County received a grant to evaluate Wasioja Seminary Ruins. Historical and architectural firm MacDonald and Mack Architects evaluated the structure and found that the ruins should be stabilized to prevent more decay. On Tuesday, the Dodge County Board of Commissioners held a meeting. One of the topics was discussion of whether the county wants to continue to preserve the site or not.

According to the Dodge County website, Wasioja Seminary was established as a college in 1857. Prior to the Civil War, the school had 300 students. When the war broke out, many students and members of faculty formed the Company C of the 2nd Minnesota. By 1868, the Seminary was struggling, and it was passed along to different groups and renamed several times before permanently closing in 1894. A fire damaged the building in 1905, leaving the ruins visible today.

As stated on the website, since the fire, "just one modest effort at stabilization has occurred. In 1994, a security fence was erected, window headers reinforced, and some stabilization of the walls conducted. Remarkably, due to this effort and some good luck, each of the four walls is still erect. However, without significant treatment, the ruins are in danger of further deterioration."

Wasioja resident Dori Greene says that maintaining hisoric structures is valuable because it is important to preserve what we have.

A further evaluation would be needed to determine how to stabilize the structure. The further evaluation and design plan would cost around $50,000, and the construction would cost an additional approximate $600,000. Dodge County's grant writing consultant estimates the county could obtain $525,000 to $575,000 in grant money. The county would need to fund around $50,000-$100,000 in local money.

The ruins are maintained by the Dodge County Highway and Parks Department, with guidance from the Dodge County Historical Society and assistance from the Friends of Wasioja.

The ruins were named a State Historic District in 1971, and added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1975.

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