Book to highlight county businesses

ABOVE: Martin County Historical Society Executive Director, Lenny Tvedten, right, and museum curator, Jim Marushin, left, hold up a picture showing the former Redwood Restaurant and old Poppe’s building in Fairmont. The two are gathering information on past and current Martin County businesses for Tvedten’s newest book.

FAIRMONT– While Martin County Historical Society’s Executive Director Lenny Tvedten knows a lot about the history of the county, he’s seeking help from those who have more specific information about the history of businesses in the county for his third book.

Tvedten pointed out that his latest project is in line with the Martin County Historical Society’s mission statement, which is to preserve and share the history of Martin County by acquiring, conserving, appropriately displaying and making it accessible for viewing, research and educational purposes.

While Tvedten has some information on area businesses, he wants more from anyone who was associated with the business or had some direct contact with it. He’s also seeking photos, both historic and current.

In order to make the process as easy as possible for those who wish to participate, Tvedten and museum curator Jim Marushin created a simple questionnaire of about eight questions that people can fill out.

The questions ask about any past location of the business, the person behind starting the business and any interesting or unique stories about the business or the people who worked there.

The questionnaire method was used for Tvedten’s last book on Martin County veterans that came out at the end of 2021. Both Tvedten and Marushin were surprised and pleased with the response they received for that.

“I gave them a questionnaire to follow and they filled it out, returned to me and I put it in story form,” Tvedten said.

For this book, Tvedten is looking for the evolution of a business. He explained that it can be any business currently in operation and any business that was in operation throughout the county.

“Going back to the 50s and 60s, Nelson Ice Cream Company and Crystal Bottling Company, places like that,” Tvedten said of two former businesses.

He said it’s also open to professional organizations like attorney and dental offices, as well as non-profit organizations.

Tvedten knows they’re not going to get information on all of the many, many past and present businesses in the county, but he’d like to try.

“I’m looking for whatever anyone can provide,” he said.

Tvedten said there are some businesses he has information on, including the Sentinel, Fairmont Ford and the hospital because he’s done research on them.

“I think it’d be fair to include those because we have documentation,” Tvedten said.

For everything else, he’s relying on the help and knowledge of the public.

As for getting the word out, Tvedten plans to put word of his project in area newspapers and on the Martin County Historical Society’s website at fairmont.org/mchs. He said the Fairmont Area Chamber of Commerce will also send out a notice of it to businesses.

“I don’t know where it’s going to lead. It could become an enormous project which would be good,” Tvedten said with a laugh.

He plans to start working as soon as information comes rolling in. He said the larger the response, the longer it will take to put the book together.

“It’d be nice to get inundated with information,” Tvedten said.

Ideally he’d like a larger book than his last book on area veterans, which was 160 pages, but he said it’s all dependent on what information and photos people provide.

Speaking to the importance of documenting the history of businesses in the county, Tvedten said, “If it isn’t documented, it’s gone. It’s lost. It’s important that these businesses that served the county in many ways be remembered and documented for what they’ve done.”

Anyone with information on area businesses can go to the mchs website or email Tvedten at edirectormchs@gmail.com or call 507-235-5178.


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