Scandia school and museum open Sept. 14

The public is invited to an open house at the Scandia school and Family Farm Museum on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 1 to 4 p.m. Guides from the Elk Township Historical Society will be available to explain exhibits and answer questions.

The oldest building at the Scandia School grounds is the original one-room school, which has been restored to its 1870s appearance. Here one can peruse a century of enrollment records, class pictures and other memorabilia from the 12 one-room schools that once existed in Elk Township.

Later, when more Scandinavian immigrant families arrived, enrollment swelled and the little school room became inadequate to meet the needs of the community. Therefore, another larger classroom was added. So by the late 19th Century, Scandia School had two functioning wooden classrooms attached to one another.

Today this larger room is the Historical Society’s Family Farm Heritage Museum and contains many interesting artifacts from that era. One corner is set up as a typical parlor of a late 19th Century farm, where the family gathered with their guests for conversation and entertainment. An item of interest on display is a horsehair upholstered chair. At that time, fabric woven from the long mane or tail hair of horses was very popular because of it’s great durability, even though it could be fairly prickly in texture. Since hair from the horse’s mane was softer, it produced a more soft and flexible fabric, whereas the horse’s tail hairs, being more stiff, produced a less pliable and more rugged texture. The horse’s breed and management affected the texture of the hair and eventually the quality of fabric woven.

This parlor display also includes a matched set of Victorian furniture upholstered in antique velvet. The floor rugs were hand-made on Scandia farms of a bygone era. Two are linear and were woven on a loom from cotton rags and two, of similar materials, are crocheted into ovals or rounds. Used clothing was not thrown away, instead it was woven into rugs for continued use.

The solid-walnut reed organ was frequently the center of entertainment because group singing was very popular when company came. Guests often stayed overnight because of the poor road conditions and lack of headlights on their buggys. The reed organ shown in the photograph, was manufactured by the Estey Organ Company in Brattleboro, Vt. It was the largest reed organ company in America and manufactured more than 500,000 instruments that were sold world-wide. This instrument once provided musical entertainment in the Johnson homestead on the Schonberg Road in Scandia.

A large pastoral scene of cattle grazing is featured; it hung at one time in one of the oldest houses in Elk Township. Floral decorations were composed of dried flowers such as hydrangeas that “grew on the place” and Everlastings that they gathered in the pastures. Nearby is a brass child’s crib, that belonged to the Lanes, one of Scandia’s oldest families on the Peterson Road.