In the center of Henning, Minnesota, on the edge of Otter Tail lakes country, Henning Landmark Center invites visitors to explore new arts opportunities, to share experiences and celebrate local history, and provide a welcoming space to gather in this beautifully restored “arts and crafts” style home.
Jamie Wilson loves quilting, especially when she’s attending a quilting retreat at Henning Landmark Center.
Three times a year she joins other quilting enthusiasts at the large brick house for quilting and fellowship.
It’s the perfect spot to gather, she said. The group sets up their sewing machines in the spacious meeting rooms, they prepare their meals at the center’s kitchen, and they sleep in comfortable bedrooms on the second floor.
Her enthusiasm over the Henning Landmark Center is shared by her fellow quilters who’ve named their group the “Quiltlanders.”
Quilting is one of numerous activities and events taking place at the Landmark throughout the year. Groups like Sons of Norway, Henning Lions, and Henning CHAT meet there. Bridal showers, baby showers, class and family reunions are hosted at the stoic historic site. There are art exhibits and workshops, piano lessons and a book club utilizing the house.
The facility has always been an active part of the community, ever since its construction, said Henning Landmark Center Director Daniel Broten.
The original house was built in 1914 by Dr. A. J. Lewis as residence and clinic. In 1948, additional clinic space was added. In later years the clinic was served by doctors Charles Lewis, Jay Kevern and Jon Wigert. Many visitors to the Landmark have told Broten they were born at the clinic or had various procedures done there. It’s been fun for many to visit the basement museum where, among town memorabilia, are the clinic’s birth records where they can check for their name.
The clinic remained in operation until the 1990s, when a new clinic building was constructed. The brick house became a residence and was eventually used for storage until a few residents saw an opportunity for the community.
Around 2005, Clarice Espeland and daughter Cyndi had a vision to refurbish the structure and provide a center for community activities. With funding from the Art & Clarice Espeland Family Foundation, former Henning Mayor David Holmgren convinced Dr. Jon Wigert to make the property available to the community. Renovations began in 2006, and in 2009, the Henning Landmark Center opened as a nonprofit cultural center focused on the arts.
Sharon Thalmann served as the center’s first director and under her guidance began the first arts workshops and developed a retreat center on the second floor. Families were asked to sponsor the furnishing of individual bedrooms.
“She has a great design sense,” said Broten. “She was responsible for the decisions of the entire facility’s paint colors, wallpaper, furnishing and design.”
Thalmann’s design touch included using old screen doors from the house for headboards in one of the five bedrooms on the second floor. The second floor has bed space for 10 and also has two large bathrooms.
Through her work on the renovations, Thalmann helped create a welcoming and warm atmosphere.
During this time, Broten connected with the Henning Landmark Center during his visits to the community. His mother grew up in Henning, and as a child, Broten spent summers on his grandparents’ farm. While working as a photographer in the Chicago area, Broten often returned to the area for visits, and in 1998, he had an opportunity to purchase the old family farm.
He “cross commuted” to Chicago until 2015 when he moved to Henning and became the center’s second director.
“I haven’t regretted it,” he said. “It’s a big change of pace, but it’s only a four-minute commute to the center from the farm – and there are no stoplights.”
Thanks to the Lake Region Arts Council and the Minnesota Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund, the Henning Landmark Center has been able to provide many arts workshops and residencies and recently purchased a kiln which will be used in ceramics workshops. The center offers both an adult and kids’ arts camp, lectures and entertainment, a monthly book club, and event space.
Arts activities have included glass blowing, blacksmithing, wood carving and turning, ceramics, painting, creative writing, and basket weaving, among others. The gallery provides exhibit space for a variety of art.
“We offer opportunities to the community that normally might not be available in this area,” he said.
Terry Oscarson serves on the Henning Landmark Center board and was an art teacher for 20 of her 42 years of teaching. She’s appreciated the workshop art presenters coming into the Henning School to show their craft and teach students about their art forms. It’s been a great benefit for the community, she said.
Oscarson was instrumental in getting A Magical Medora Christmas musical to perform in Henning three years ago, and they have returned each year since. The cast stays at the Henning Landmark Center’s retreat rooms while performing in this area and always will consider it home.
While the LRAC’s grants help fund workshops and special programs, donations and memberships support the center, its maintenance and additional programming. Student memberships are $10, individual memberships are $20, couple’s memberships are $30, and business sponsorships are $100 annually. All donations to the Henning Landmark Center are tax deductible.
This year marks the 10th anniversary for the Henning Landmark Center and a special reception is planned for the June 12 annual meeting. All are welcome to attend. Other highlights include a corn and brat feed with live bluegrass music and a silent auction Aug. 23 from 5-8 p.m., and a pie and pumpkin social with the Polka Brothers Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Henning Landmark Center is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is available for use any time by appointment.
For more information, call Daniel Broten at 218-548-5760, like us on Facebook, or visit the website, www.HenningLandmark.org.
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