Q: As I understand it, Pioneer Village is a collection of old buildings that got moved to one site. How did that come about, anyway?
A: In 1958, the Nobles County Historical Society purchased a schoolhouse that had been closed since 1944. The building was moved to the county fairgrounds, where it became an attraction during county fair time.
In 1968, the Society felt the school was only a part of the history of the county, and that other buildings could be acquired to further show evidence of our historical past. Two and one-half acres were purchased, and the schoolhouse became the first building in the Pioneer Village. There are now 36 buildings available for viewing.
Q: Jake Cuperus, you’re the one who’s kind of the caretaker of the Village. How did this opportunity come about?
A: I was looking for a part-time job to go along with farming and answered a Facebook ad. It has been a good fit. My young kids also like being out here, and they help give ideas on what we could do better and to make things a little more kid-friendly.
Q; Jake, what’s your favorite building out here?
A: For me, it’s the transportation building. For the kids, maybe it’s the train depot. The schoolhouse is also often interesting for kids. They find it hard to believe that everyone was together in one room.
Q: Are you often busy, and could you use more help?
A: We had been fully booked with a wedding every weekend through the summer until COVID, but about three-quarters of those have now been canceled, which is a huge loss of income for the site. But we're still open for visitors --— we’re here 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Sundays are now buck days, and everyone gets in for $1.
We can really use some more volunteers. As long as you’re able-bodied, we’d welcome you, and it’s also a great way for families to spend time together while helping out.
Q: People can also come out in groups and work on painting buildings and other projects, right?
A: Absolutely. For painting projects, we’ll even supply the paint.
The Armory building is obviously a huge project for the Historical Society, but people think that because of that, we’re abandoning Pioneer Village. That’s not the case. We want this to continue to be a place where people enjoy learning about our past for years to come.