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Westonka Historical Society reopens March 6 with three new exhibits, including a new room devoted a century of Mound Westonka schools history. (Elizabeth Hustad/Laker Pioneer)

The Westonka Historical Society is reopening Saturday, March 6 after being closed since last March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and when it reopens there will be three new exhibits to peruse: one on early Native American history, one on education in the area and one on early life around Lake Minnetonka.

The museum will resume its regular hours, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. One change is that visitors will follow a one-way walk-through of exhibits.

Though WHS has been closed since last year, the society’s inventory project has kept on, perhaps a little slower than pre-pandemic but no less beneficial.

Volunteers uncovered items that have been in storage for want of space to display them, and going through everything in that upper level chamber—plus a donation of electric-lit cabinets and the acquisition last spring of two more rooms at the Centennial Building—was the spark of inspiration.

“We’re really tickled!” said Pam Myers. Myers, a long-serving volunteer with WHS, has herself been busy: it was she who led the interviews for the collaboration with Lake Minnetonka Cable Commission for the video project, Westonka Memories, last fall.

Its volunteers not idle during this time, three new exhibits will be on display when the museum reopens March 6.

“We have 100 years of history here,” says Myers unlocking the door to one of the newly acquired rooms.

What used to be empty space is now host to an extensive exhibit of school memorabilia from the first high school class of 1918 and history of the two dozen one-room schoolhouses that also served kids from neighboring areas. “We ran buses as far north as Medina, as far west almost to Delano, as far south to Victoria and as far east as Stubbs Bay,” says  Myers.

Folding seats of dark wood—two of the original 1,500 from the 1938 auditorium that was where Mound Marketplace is now—stand against one wall. Opposite is a case of Westonka memorabilia that go back decades, to when the White Hawks were the Mohawks: ‘60s homecoming pins, pennants and a bullhorn, a jacket that boasts “State Wrestling Champ” in neat cursive, a 1956 “freshman beanie...up to a coffee mug that marks the 2002 groundbreaking on the athletic fields and Educational Services Building.

“We just didn’t have it in a location to display it as delightfully as we can now,” says Myers of the expanded collection.

The other new exhibit given its own room is devoted to early family life, with donations of a commode, 1850s booklet on the “Country Kitchen” and a “Rigid” ironing board (made in Spring Park, says Myers).

Downstairs in the main area, WHS has also revamped its display on early Native American history, which goes back to the prehistoric burial mounds whence Mound got its name. That will be visitors’ first stop on their one-way tour through the museum.

Also new is taking home a piece of true Westonka history.

Myers folds back the white fabric that protects what’s in the case beneath from the sun above. “Well-used, well-loved” Tonka Trucks, circa mid-century, that will be available for purchase.

Westonka Historical Society is located at the Centennial Building in Mound, 5341 Maywood Rd. Hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free with donations encouraged.

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