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Nobles County Historical Society plans week-long celebration for Heritage Center grand opening

“From the get-go, it was envisioned as a community building,” said Beth Rickers, Nobles County Historical Society executive director. “I thought it needed to be a big community splash.”

The Nobles County Heritage Center, formerly the historic armory in Worthington, is shown here in an undated photo. The building was dedicated in 1923.
The Nobles County Heritage Center, formerly the historic armory in Worthington, is shown here in an undated photo. The building was dedicated in 1923.
Submitted photo
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WORTHINGTON — After years of renovation and restoration, the Nobles County Heritage Center — formerly known as the Armory — is ready for a celebration, and its grand opening and 100-year gala is set for 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at 225 Ninth St., in Worthington.

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The free event is open to the public and will feature drinks and hor d’oeuvres, a silent auction and a photo booth, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:15 p.m. Live music will be provided by the 14-person Minnesota National Guard “Red Bull” Band, Boots N Brass, as well as Night Coffee, a group that plays jazz and swing tunes.

Participants are encouraged, but not required, to wear the attire of the roaring 1920s in honor of the Armory’s 100th anniversary. It was dedicated in 1923.

While the building’s extreme makeover isn’t completely done, the majority of the restoration is finished, including the spacious gym/community gathering space on the main floor, currently occupied by museum exhibits.

“From the get-go, it was envisioned as a community building,” said Beth Rickers, Nobles County Historical Society executive director. “I thought it needed to be a big community splash.”

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As such, the gala will be the culmination of a week-long series of events at the Heritage Center, all free of charge and all open to the public.

The events were chosen to appeal to different people and to showcase the Heritage Center, Rickers said, showing them what it has meant to the community in the past and what it continues to mean now.

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For example, at one point, the Armory’s big draw was its modern restrooms that could be used by “farmers’ ladies” when they came to town.

“That was a big selling point,” Rickers said. “There was a big community aspect to it at the time.”

Monday’s two presentations will be from Doug Ohman, a popular Minnesota historian and speaker whose work can be seen on Pioneer Public Television. On Tuesday, local historians Al Langseth and Harris Darling will speak about Native American settlements in the area.

“We just think that it’s a good way to show that there’s some local experts too,” Rickers said.

Barb Windschill Sommer, who grew up in the area, has an art history degree and is an oral history expert. She’ll speak on Wednesday about how the New Deal affected the area and the many, many Works Progress Administration projects built in the area, including the band shell, the spillway dam and many sidewalks still in use today.

Musician and Worthington resident Paul Summers will speak about what growing up in Worthington meant to him on Thursday, and he’ll be bringing two Native American dancers with him. A variety of food trucks were invited to attend, with food for purchase from a variety of cultures.

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Refreshments will be available during Friday’s sneak peek at the Heritage Center, an event designed especially for seniors.

“We’re very grateful to the sponsors that have come forward so far,” Rickers said. “We wanted to make it all free, and didn’t want to sell tickets. We wanted everybody to feel like they could come and be part of this.”

Schedule of events

Monday, Nov. 7

  • 1:30 p.m.: “Memories of the Brave — Minnesota Medal of Honor Recipients,” presented by Doug Ohman, of Pioneer Public Television.
  • 6:30 p.m.: “Saluting the Civil War — Minnesota Role,” presented by Doug Ohman.

Tuesday, Nov. 8

  • 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.: “Nobles County’s Native American Residents,” presented by Harris Darling and Al Langseth.

Wednesday, Nov. 9

  • 10 a.m.: “Nobles County and the New Deal,” presented by Barb Windschill Sommer.

Thursday, Nov. 10

  • 5-7 p.m.: local food trucks on site, with a presentation of “Hidden Heritage” beginning at 5:45 p.m. by hometown musician Paul Summers, joined by Native American dancers.

Friday, Nov. 11

  • 1:30-3 p.m.: Sneak peek of the Heritage Center for area seniors, with refreshments available.

Saturday, Nov. 12

  • 4-7 p.m.: Grand Opening Gala, with opening ceremonies at 4:15 p.m.
A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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