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Historic Dayton House mourns loss of benefactor

WORTHINGTON -- The passing of Bruce B. Dayton is notable to many in Worthington as Dayton was a primary force in the 2002-04 renovation and restoration of the Historic Dayton House, which was built in 1890 for Dayton's grandparents.

WORTHINGTON - The passing of Bruce B. Dayton is notable to many in Worthington as Dayton was a primary force in the 2002-04 renovation and restoration of the Historic Dayton House, which was built in 1890 for Dayton’s grandparents.
“As a patriarch of the Dayton family, Bruce Dayton was instrumental in raising the funds from the Target Foundation and from other members of the Dayton family that made the House’s turn-around possible,” said Mike Woll, who chaired the board of the Historic Dayton House for its first eight years.
The late Red Windschill initiated contact with Dayton in 2001 at the behest of Historic Worthington Inc. Dayton became keenly interested in the effort to save the first Minnesota home of his grandparents, George and Emma Dayton, from the wrecking ball.
“It [the house] was on the verge of being condemned and was simply being used as a low-rent boarding house,” recalled Woll.
“But Bruce Dayton had a ‘do it right’ approach to life, and he brought that attitude to the local project,” Woll continued.
“What a legacy he has left for us here in Worthington with the Historic Dayton House; it’s a real gift to our community.”
Janice Spoelstra, manager of the Historic Dayton House, said the Dayton family connection resonates with many guests at the facility.
“When I give house tours to people from around Minnesota, they are always very interested in the link between Gov. Mark Dayton and the house,” said Spoelstra.
“I tell them that Bruce and his wife Ruth were instrumental in restoring the house to its former glory, and they love hearing the history of the Dayton family and how George Draper Dayton got his start in Minnesota right here in Worthington.”
Woll said becoming acquainted with Dayton, whose wife Ruth Stricker Dayton grew up in Windom, was a “tremendous privilege and an honor.”
“Bruce Dayton had a kindness and humanity about him, along with an intense determination,” said Woll. 
“His ability to wisely but gently guide people and projects was evident in his efforts here.”
That the Historic Dayton House is only a small footnote in the lengthy list of organizations Dayton significantly supported over the years is not surprising to Woll; he points out that Dayton’s grandparents had donated $5 million of their own money by 1938, and their descendants maintained that model of generosity.
“Bruce Dayton has helped leave Worthington a wonderful legacy with the Historic Dayton House,” agreed Spoelstra.
“People enjoy coming to the house and learning how the Dayton family’s story unfolds with the history of Minnesota; they’re very impressed with what we have here.”

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