Following the explosion, we were able to recover a number of Minnehaha's artifacts from the school. Some of these items will be integrated into the reimagined Upper School, others will be displayed in our Archive House. Here are some of the items that were recovered:
1912 Minnehaha Academy Sign
This Minnehaha Academy sign block was placed over the main entrance of the school’s first 1912 building and remained there until it was removed in 2017 following the explosion on Aug. 2. This sign is an original testament to God’s faithfulness, as well as the dedication of the founders and commitment of the community.
When the 1912 and 1922 buildings were constructed, cornerstones were laid as foundational remembrances of a time when members of the Minnehaha community stepped out in faith to build a place where students could learn in a Christian community. Their work has enriched students and their families for generations. The cornerstones from a century ago will be placed in the reimagined Upper School. It will be a way for us to acknowledge how the work that began many years ago still carries on today, and will carry on years from now.
At the north end of the school’s first 1912 building was a staircase that continued from the basement up to the third floor. The cement stair treads on that staircase were used by all students for 105 years. Many of these stair treads were removed following the explosion and will be used in the entry area of the new Upper School in a patio format, so they may continue to be walked on by Minnehaha Academy students.
Over the years many senior classes have presented a class gift to the school; the class of 1921, along with the Quiver (the school newspaper at the time), gifted this safe in which to keep Minnehaha Academy’s most valuable documents. It was in continuous use from that time on. At the time of the explosion, this safe held the school’s original abstract documents and was located near the blast’s center. It was unclear at first if the floor was stable enough to support its removal, but heroic efforts ensued to pull it out. Options are being explored to use this original safe to display other Minnehaha Academy relics.
Archival materials that had once hung in the Anderson conference room were also recovered, including a commemorative piece which had been given to Minnehaha Academy’s President Wilbur Westerdahl by the T.W. Anderson school in Quito, Ecuador, when he visited there in 1975. Theodore W. Anderson was MA’s first president and went on to become the president of the Covenant denomination.
The piece features beautiful hand coloration and calligraphy, and parts are still readable, but by the time it was brought out, it carried evidence of perforation, water damage, and glass fused to its surface. This important piece of our history reflects the impact of the Aug. 2 explosion.
Thanks to alum Harry Mixer, the Minnehaha Academy archive includes 1939 movie footage of the school and the school bell ringing. One of the original school bells was found still hanging on an interior wall and it was recovered for future display.
Preservation and Archives
In collaboration with Minnehaha Academy’s construction and design partners, great care is being taken to preserve and commemorate our past while creating a new environment that will support our students for the next 100 years. We give thanks to the members of the team who have worked tirelessly to recover these relics.
To learn more about Minnehaha's Archive House, contact Elaine Ekstedt.