By Kerry Drager
In an attempt to breathe new life into the downtown area, the Long Prairie Museum and the Christie House have been working on events to help draw a crowd and reveal the historic significance of the area.
One of those events was the first ever Ghost Walk and was held this past July. The event took guests through a portion of The Christie House and the Long Prairie Museum before exploring the architectural glory of historic downtown. All this was done while telling of the area’s long, rich history while putting on a fun paranormal spin.
During a previous investigation of the Christie House before the Ghost Walk, medium, author and historian Adrian Lee was greeted by the home’s maid. He gathered information about the history of the home that only one other individual knew about and was able to share that information with guests during the event. They also participated in an active investigation and guests were able to witness several paranormal activities.
Volunteer and Historical Society member Lorna Hunter helped put together the event and has a strong passion in the preservation of Long Prairie’s past.
“We get a stipend from the city that has been used up every year to replace things for the Christie House. After we’ve done some repairs, all the money is gone, and there is no money for additional work and upkeep,” said Hunter.
The Ghost Walk was successful this year, bringing in 120 guests and volunteers. This was a great outcome because it brought people back into the heart of the city, which was ultimately the goal of the event.
“It was absolutely much more than what we expected,” said Hunter. “I would have been ecstatic with just 50, and the outcome we got was just jaw-dropping.”
Aside from raising awareness of the city’s history and providing additional funds for the museum and the Christie House, events like the Ghost Walk also help to fill in the blanks left in history. Hunter and other members of the Historical Society hope that by offering these gatherings, people with additional information and pieces of history from the area can be found.
“The Delight Shop was a popular hangout for kids from the 1940s until 1967. The malt shop’s owner’s son came to the Ghost Walk. They donated items from the shop to the museum and gave us information about the business that we didn’t have before.”
Discovering the area’s history shows how Central Minnesota has an important, interconnected history. Some of the businesses that are downtown were built with brick manufactured in Browerville. The Christie family was related to the Lindbergh family of Little Falls. Area history also tells of how local businesses were vital to the growth and happiness of the community.
Meyer Blacksmith was the leading blacksmith in the city. This business owner helped bring daytime electricity to all the residents within the city. At the time, electricity was only available during the daylight hours on Monday afternoons for just three or four hours. This was so those who owned electric irons could finish their laundry from washday.
It is Hunter’s dream to re-establish a healthy business and community relationship in the area.
“Businesses don’t want to reinvest in downtown. So we are using the history to try and bring people back into town.”
Technology is being used to help preserve the history by establishing a Facebook page where the online community can come forward with any additional information they may have.
An attempt is also being made to raise funds for a downtown history project that will purchase brass plaques for the oldest buildings in town with original photos of the buildings currently available.
An “app” is being produced that will provide the full history and photographs of each building so people can take self-guided tours through downtown.
The area’s next historic tour is on Saturday, Oct. 18. It will present the results of a recent paranormal investigation as they tour the Christie House after dark.
Volunteers like Hunter know the importance of these efforts to preserve local history, and she is finding that there is still much to discover.