The Danish Vikings Days Committee is proud to announce that the Daneville Heritage Museum has been selected to receive the 2018 “Friends of Viborg” award. This year’s theme is “Keeping Danish History Alive for Every American Generation.” The Friends of Viborg Award was established in 2003 to honor an individual, family, or organization that has made a significant difference in the Viborg community.
“With Viborg celebrating 125 years, we are emphasizing our town’s history during the 2018 Danish Days celebration,” said Danish Day’s Co-Chair Kayla Nielsen. “The Daneville Heritage Museum has helped collect and keep the history of Viborg and our Danish Heritage. Especially with the spectacular new addition to the museum building this year, it is an appropriate year to recognize the Daneville Heritage Museum as the 2018 Friend of Viborg.”
Recently the Daneville Heritage Museum has received much attention with the completion of their recent addition. The success of the Daneville Heritage Association goes much deeper and is the result of many who have played an important role in the establishment and growth of the museum.
Throughout Viborg’s 125-year history, several groups have expressed an interest in forming a society for the preservation of genealogical and historical information about Viborg. It was following the turn of the 21st century that several residents again met to discuss the establishment of a museum.
The Lockwood family, Phyllis, son David and daughter Rhonda, made a generous offer of a building to house the museum. The building was constructed in 1933 as Gross Hatchery. In 1937 there was an addition to the west end of the building. It later was home to the Viborg Veterinary Clinic of Dr. Ron Lockwood. When the clinic moved, the building was used for storage for the Lockwood’s other business, Pump N’ Stuff.
The building was donated in 2002 with final papers signed in 2003. Palmer Peterson, Michael Lohan and others commenced remodeling and cleaning out the building. They opened their doors early 2004.
On November 4, 2002, the Daneville Heritage Association, Incorporated, was issued a certificate of authority by the State of South Dakota as a nonprofit corporation. Initial members of the DHA Board of Directors were: President – Melanie Parsons; Vice-President – Alphie “Toots” Peterson; Secretary – John L. Overby; Treasurer – Lester Lauritzen; and Director-At-Large – Wayne F. Petersen.
The first major addition to the museum was the donation of the Daneville Township District 46 schoolhouse in 2006 by Warren and Mary Ann Nelson. The country schoolhouse had been constructed in 1926 and was located one mile west and a mile and a half south of Viborg along the tracks of the Great Northern Railroad. The school closed following the 1957-58 school year and the district absorbed into the Viborg School District. The structure was moved into Viborg in March of 2007. It was placed on a new foundation and is located on the corner of State Street and Blaine Avenue, just north and across the street from the first museum building. Following a major face lift, both inside and outside, the building opened to the public later that year.
Emma V. Selken Sorensen donated a school bell for the restored tower. Emma V., Toots, and Lester were major donors for the land acquisition, moving expenses, and renovations. The main floor now looks almost exactly as former students remember. On occasion, Viborg-Hurley students have taken the opportunity to experience “old school.”
The next major addition occurred in 2009 and consisted of a 2-story add-on to the west end of the main building which extended the structure back to the edge of the alley. The main floor of this addition provided space for the chapel, an art gallery, the museum library and a vintage clothing and sewing skills display area. The over $80,000 project was a donation from Toots Peterson and opened in April of 2010.
The most recent addition was provided from the generosity, fondness for genealogy research and love of Viborg by the late Lester Lauritzen. Lester passed away on June 8th, 2016. He left his entire estate to the Daneville Heritage Association. Lester was one of the original organizers of the Daneville Heritage Association and at times served as treasurer and secretary.
Over the past 17 years the museum has received countless artifacts, photographs, and monetary gifts. Additionally, there are countless volunteer hours that have led to the success of the museum.
The current board of directors are: Chairman – Doug Mellegard; Vice-Chairman – Bob Christensen; Treasurer – Alan Ward; Director-at-Large – Roberta Rasmussen; Director-at-Large – Palmer Peterson. Jennifer Hanson is the current association secretary, Kelly Oberbroekling and Brasky Bookkeeping serve as financial records keeper and advisor, Shirley Simonsen is the custodian, Richard Skola is the office manager and historian and USD Student Ophelia May is currently computerizing museum record and creating a website.
In conjunction with Danish Days (July 18th – 22nd) there will be an open house at the museum on Thursday from 10 am – 4 pm. A dedication service for the newest of the three buildings on the campus of the Daneville Heritage Museum will be held during the afternoon. Also during Danish Days, the museum will be presented with the “Friends of Viborg Award” at Glood Park on Friday, July 20th at 8:15 pm and a reception will be held at the museum from 1 – 3 pm on Saturday.