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Dunn County sells ‘Empire in Pine’ museum to Town of Dunn

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Board has approved selling the Empire in Pine Museum in Downsville to the Town of Dunn for $1.

The resolution for the sale authorizes the sale of the real estate, the buildings and the grounds but not the contents of the museum, said Nick Lange, Dunn County corporation counsel, at the Dunn County Board’s January 21 meeting.

The Town of Dunn would like to purchase the museum, and in the past, Dunn County has sold other facilities to local units of government for “local interest” reasons, said David Schaefer, county board supervisor from Menomonie and chair of the facilities committee.

The people in Downsville and in the rural areas of the Town of Dunn want the museum and want to maintain the museum, said Donald Heit, chair of the Town of Dunn.

Several county board members wondered what the Town of Dunn intended to do with the museum.

The Empire in Pine Museum will remain a museum, Heit said.

The Town of Dunn has received $10,000 that was given to the township for the museum, he said.

Heit told the county board that he has met with the Dunn County Historical Society about sharing the contents of the museum with the Town of Dunn but that he has yet received an answer as to whether that is possible.

According to a letter dated January 22 included in the county board packet, the Dunn County Historical Society transferred the title to the Empire in Pine Museum to Dunn County in June of 1973, along with all of the artifacts.

The letter stresses that the sale of the museum included the land and buildings but did not include any of the exhibits, artifacts or personal property associated with the museum buildings.

“All such items, to the extent that Dunn County has possessory or ownership interest, are hereby returned to the Historical Society without any condition and without further claim on the part of Dunn County,” the letter reads.

If the Dunn County Historical Society removes all of exhibits and artifacts from the Empire in Pine Museum, the Town of Dunn “will fill it back up” with other historical items, Heit said.

The Town of Dunn Board will be in charge of the museum and is working on a resolution for operating the museum, he said.

In the last few years, Dunn County has paid for handicapped accessibility for the museum and for new bathrooms, a new roof, windows and a fire escape, Schaefer said.

Heating and air conditioning were discussed for the museum, but there is no money in Dunn County’s budget this year for heating and air conditioning, he said.

“Maybe the Town of Dunn can do those,” Schaefer said.

“This has been discussed for many years,” said David Bartlett, county board supervisor from Boyceville and the former chair of the facilities committee.

People in the Town of Dunn have worked on getting donations and giving donations for the museum, Bartlett said.

“It’s important to the community. It’s a good thing,” he said.

The Dunn County Board unanimously approved the resolution to sell the Empire in Pine Museum to the Town of Dunn for $1.