The Washington County Historical Society has been looking for a new home, and it may have found one in an unoccupied building on Greeley Street in Stillwater.
Executive Director Brent Peterson said the society hopes to sign a purchase agreement in the next couple of weeks. He said the society and the building's owner are still negotiating the price, but it will be "much less" than the $4.5 million it was seeking last fall when it was looking to buy in the Stillwater Business Park.
Regardless, any new building will take a considerable amount of money. The society will hold a fundraiser featuring the More-Tishans Saturday at the Withrow Ballroom in Hugo.
"They are happy to help the Washington County Historical Society meet its goal," said Peterson, who secured the Stillwater-based garage band that was inducted into Mid-America Music Hall of Fame in 2008.
Saturday's event is the society's first fundraiser in which it will direct all proceeds toward a facility fund. The society also is planning a 1930s gangster-themed dinner for the fall with ideas for other benefits in the works, Peterson said.
For 77 years, the society has amassed a vast collection of 100,000 pieces of furniture, photographs, clothing, newspapers, signs and other artifacts on display and in storage at its three sites: The Warden's House Museum in Stillwater, and the Hay Lake School and Erickson Log Home in Scandia.
But it's quickly running out of room and needs more space if it is to continue its mission of telling the stories of people and events in the 31 cities and townships that make up Washington County.
A larger building also will allow the society to host traveling exhibits, Peterson said.
"We want to bring those exhibits in for the public of Washington County," he said. "There are some great ones."
The More-Tishans were great, too. Now considered one of the top Twin Cities groups of all time, four Stillwater high school students formed the 1960s band that was known throughout the area for their music and for driving a black hearse to their gigs. All six members of the group -- including both past and present members at that time -- were on stage for the ensemble's last concert in August 1968 at the National Guard Armory in Stillwater.
Two of the of band's remaining living members, Chris Nelson and Hugh Kraemer, along with special guests, will play during the event at the Withrow Ballroom.
Peterson said the purchase agreement is only the next step in securing a permanent home for the society. Once the purchase agreement is signed, the society will need to get a special-use permit from the city of Stillwater to move forward.
The society turned its attention to acquiring the building on Greeley Street after its first choice went off the market. Though smaller, the building on Greeley is big enough "to meet our needs for now and for decades into the future," Peterson said.
Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039, Twitter: @timstrib