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Swedish Pavilion Closed to Public Pending Completion Of Critical Structural Stabilization Repairs

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By Adam Pracht, Lindsborg Old Mill & Swedish Heritage Museum

 

LINDSBORG, Kan. — The Board of Directors of the Lindsborg Old Mill & Swedish Heritage Museum voted on Thursday, March 14 to close the museum’s 1904 World’s Fair Swedish Pavilion to the public until structural stabilization repairs can be completed.

A recent structural engineer’s assessment of the National Register of Historic Places building determined that the pavilion is leaning westward by up to two degrees – representing severe “racking” that’s visible even to untrained observers. If unaddressed, the structural issues threaten a catastrophic collapse of the historic treasure, should the wrong set of windy weather conditions occur.

Given this small – but very real – risk of a dangerous structural collapse, the museum’s board voted unanimously to close the building to the public to ensure safety until Phase 1 of the stabilization repair plan can be completed at an estimated cost of about $181,000. Phase 1 permanently addresses the safety concern of the east to west racking observed in the engineer’s report.

A later Phase 2 of the full project will further shore up the structure of the Pavilion in the north to south direction. However, the timeline, architectural drawings, and cost of this second phase have yet to be determined. Completion of Phase 1 raises the level of safety so much that the board is comfortable with reopening the Pavilion after this first stage of work is completed.

The museum is waiting for responses on several grant applications to pay for the work before the repairs can be started. The hope is that contractors can begin the work in August 2024 if grant decisions are made in the museum’s favor. Otherwise, alternate sources of funding will need to be pursued for the Pavilion to be repaired and reopened.

The public closure started effective Friday, March 15, and the likely timeline for repair will mean that it will be closed to the public during the museum’s annual Millfest for Kids on Friday, May 3; Millfest on Saturday, May 4; and Midsummer’s Festival on Saturday, June 15. The portions of these events that would have normally been held inside the Pavilion will be moved outside instead.

As one of the few buildings remaining from the 1904 Fair, the Swedish Pavilion is an entirely unique piece of American and Swedish-American history. It is the only example of renowned Swedish architect G. Ferdinand Boberg left in the U. S., and the last remaining of his international exposition buildings in the world.

Beyond its importance as a relic of Americana, the Pavilion has an important place in the Smoky Valley community’s history, as a beloved attraction in Lindsborg for more than 100 years. First on Bethany College’s campus (starting immediately after the fair in 1904), it was moved to the grounds of the museum in 1969. Also of note, Birger Sandzén – internationally renowned Swedish landscape painter of the post-impressionism movement – taught as a professor in the Swedish Pavilion for most of his 52-year career at Bethany College.

It also serves at the venue or backdrop today for major community events, including Svensk Hyllningsfest, Midsummer’s Festival, and Heritage Christmas.

As it works to ensure the building’s future, the museum also welcomes and invites anyone who wants to help contribute to the structural preservation of the Swedish Pavilion to consider a donation. This may be done in person at the museum – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday – by credit or debit card over the phone at 785-227-3595; or online via PayPal atwww.paypal.com/paypalme/lindsborgoldmill and indicating in the memo area that the donation is for Swedish Pavilion preservation.

The Lindsborg Old Mill & Swedish Heritage Museum celebrates and preserves the pioneering spirit of the Smoky Valley by educating, entertaining, and building community across generations so that history comes to life. With special emphasis on the period from 1870 to 1910, the museum includes two buildings on the National Registry of Historical Places and extensive archives and artifact collections. The museum seeks to honor the rich story of Lindsborg and its people.

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The Lindsborg Old Mill & Swedish Heritage Museum celebrates and preserves the pioneering spirit of the Smoky Valley by educating, entertaining, and building community across generations so that history comes to life. With special emphasis on the period from 1870 to 1910, the museum includes two buildings on the National Registry of Historical Places and extensive archives and artifact collections. The museum seeks to honor the rich story of Lindsborg and its people.

Learn more about the museum at www.oldmillmuseum.org.