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Stumpp Exhibition Hall to be removed

By Staff | Oct 5, 2012

For the first time in decades instead of moving a building onto the Prairie Village Museum grounds, the historical society board of directors has made the difficult decision to remove one.

Commonly known as the Germans from Russia House officially titled Stumpp Exhibition Hall the building has shown signs of decay for many years. This spring the Geographical Center Historical Society board, which operates the museum, closed the building to the public as a possible health hazard.

A small section of rotten floor was removed and repaired this spring, but rot and mold beneath the floorboards proved to be pervasive and the historical society board has voted to permanently close the building. “The board is open to replacing the Germans from Russia House with a new or used building, but we have no plans to do so at this time,” said board president Randy Myers.

Germans from Russia will still be represented in the museum. Using items taken from the house, museum staff members have created a new Germans from Russia exhibit in the museum’s main exhibition hall. The exhibit tells the story of how Germans came to live in Russia and how they later immigrated to the United States, many settlers in Pierce and surrounding counties.

“The new exhibit includes all of the old family photos from the house, a few household items, maps, and new interpretive information,” said executive director Cathy Jelsing. “We know it’s not the same as having the house, but we think people who see the exhibit will find it an appealing introduction to the area’s German-Russian heritage.” All of the objects, furnishings, books, and photos that were not used in the exhibit have been placed in storage.

Members of the Heart of America Chapter of the Germans from Russia Heritage Society moved the three-room house, donated by Walt and Elizabeth Miltenberger, to Prairie Village Museum in the fall of 1975.

Named Stumpp Exhibition Hall in honor of Germans from Russia scholar Dr. Karl Stumpp, the house was furnished to look like a typical turn-of-the-century home. It also housed Stumpp’s books on Germans from Russia, chapter memorabilia, and photos. Stumpp visited the hall July 12, 1978.

Among local chapter members was Judge Ray Friederich, who helped found and in 1971 was elected the first president of the North Dakota Historical Society of Germans from Russia. The society changed its name to Germans from Russia Heritage Society in 1979.

Prairie Village Museum is open by appointment for group tours until the end of September. Individuals who want to see the new Germans from Russia exhibit may arrange to view it by calling the museum at 776-6414.

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